Stellar Startup: Goliath - then and now

Like his Biblical namesake, Ilan Ben David is coming prepared for battle - and, like the original David, he's sure he's going to win.

August 26, 2007 08:37

ILAN BEN DAVID 88 224. (photo credit: Courtesy Photo)

In the old days, Goliath would go out in the field, ranting and raving about how he was the big, bad giant on the block that no one could beat - and how anyone who tried would find themselves in a world of hurt. It took David, armed with nothing more than bravery, perseverance and a slingshot to put him in his place. Modern day Goliaths, however, use a different tactic when they want to push around a David - in this case, Ilan Ben David, CEO of Genoa Technologies (, one of Israel's - and the world's -most innovative developers of TV color enhancement technology. Ben David's Goliaths - in the form of multinational electronics producers Mitsubishi and Samsung - are using technology developed by Genoa without bothering to pay the company licensing fees. And, they think they can get away with it, Ben David says, because the corporate giants don't believe a small, Israeli start-up will be able to stand a long, drawn-out lawsuit, with Genoa folding long before the courts decide the patent infringement case. But that's where these Goliaths are wrong, Ben David says. "We are in this litigation to vigorously protect our intellectual property resources, no matter how long it takes," he says. Just what is so great about Genoa's TV technology that would drive two otherwise responsible members of the electronics industry to bend the rules, according to Ben David? Just arguably the most important new development in color TV since the thing was invented in the 1940s (and itself the subject of another patent fight)! Regular color TVs - including the LCD versions, which, Ben David says, will be found in more and more homes over the next few years as prices come down - can only show a limited range of the "cinema gamut," the real-life colors of the human experience. This is because they utilize only RGB (Red, Green, Blue) display technology. Genoa's ColorPeak technology goes RGB two better, by adding yellow and cyan as enhancements to the broadcast picture. The result? A brighter, warmer, more appealing picture that enhances the TV viewing experience. Even more so, ColorPeak enhances the TV buying experience "When consumers watch TV at home, they're not as aware of how well the color on the screen compares to real-life color of the same scene, because most don't have 'color memory,' meaning they don't remember how clear or sharp scenes are. But they can tell the difference in the store when they go out an buy a TV," Ben David says. Any TV set equipped with Genoa's ColorPeak technology is going to be a clear winner at the store, "because the differences between TVs is very apparent," he adds. How does Genoa do it? Among the innovations ColorPeak utilizes is an enhancement of the yellow band in the color spectrum - a color that RGB only addresses as a blend, equal in weight to other colors. According to Ben David, the human (and animal, for that matter) psyche responds to yellow on a very basic emotional level, with anything tinted with the color emoting a warm feeling. Thus, Genoa's technology not only expands the range of the cinema gamut, it emphasizes the colors that most appeal to people's emotions, making the display they see in the store feel "homier" - thus making it more likely that they will plunk their money down and take the TV home. Because of its "form factors" - the thinness of the screen, as well as its size versatility, with displays as small as two inches and as large as 118 inches, LCD has now become the standard display for TV - as well as almost any other device with displays, such as cell phones and laptops, most of which already sport LCDs. The LCD market has been growing exponentially for the past four years, and by the end of the decade, at least 160 million units will be shipped annually. And maybe more, Ben David says, because with LCDs so versatile, "it's very likely that the replacement factor of LCDs to CRT TVs, which is what the projected sales figures for LCDs is based on, could be much higher," as consumers deploy multiple thin, decorative LCD TVs to replace one or two bulky CRTs, he says. And since, by definition, all LCDs are high-definition ready - the debate nowadays is over broadcast standards - the next battleground is going to be color enhancement, Ben David says. Manufacturers, such as Sony, realize this and are ramping up their sets' color capabilities. But Genoa is thinking beyond TV. With enhanced brightness one benefit of the five-color ColorPeak system, why not deploy it on laptop screens to give users a better, brighter display without consuming extra battery power. "While display technology has moved forward by leaps and bounds, battery technology has remained stagnant, so deploying Genoa's technology could backhandedly 'improve' battery technology as well, without having to develop new batteries," Ben David says. Genoa's five-color multi-primary color display is a powerful technology, and the company is looking to license it "wherever it will improve products," he says. Genoa is even developing its five-color technique for the next evolution of TV displays - RGB LED backlit sets ( And while LCDs are a big business, Ben David hasn't forgotten the first application Genoa's technology was developed for - projection TV, which has a substantial market share in the TV business, especially among businesses and corporations. Unfortunately for Genoa, though, neither have Mitsubishi and Samsung, both of which worked with Genoa when it developed ColorPeak. And thus the lawsuit: Both companies have developed numerous models of projection TVs using Genoa's patented technology, says Ben David - and have decided that they don't have to pay licensing fees for the privilege. With their fleets of full-time lawyers, Ben David says, their main defense technique is likely to be attrition - awaiting the day that Genoa and Ben David can't afford to continue paying lawyers or keeping their business on hold while the case snakes its way through adjudication, appeals and even more appeals. But Ben David says he's prepared. "We didn't launch the suit until we were sure we could handle it from all its aspects, including making sure that we had enough money to pay for lawyers on a long-term basis, if necessary, as well as ensuring that our core business and technology development do not get bogged down over this," he says. Like his Biblical namesake, Ben David is coming prepared for battle - and, like the original David, he's sure he's going to win. [email protected]

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