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Comcast, Cox buy Liberate assets for $82 million

Joint venture picks up North American assets of the troubled maker of software for cable set-top boxes.

Set-top software maker Liberate Technologies on Monday said it plans to sell its North American assets to Double C Technologies, a joint venture controlled by Comcast and Cox Communications, for $82 million in cash.

The sale will give Double C control of all of Liberate's assets, mainly patents, intellectual property and some liabilities, in its North American operations. Liberate produces interactive software used in cable set-top boxes.

When the sale completes, Double C will retain about 130 employees in Liberate's Canadian offices in London, Ontario. Liberate will continue its European business.

The deal will not be completed until Liberate dismisses its bankruptcy appeal in California federal courts. Last May, Liberate filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Once considered a hot start-up because of its executive pedigree hailing from Oracle, Liberate has stumbled through hard times following the dot-com bust. The company has weathered internal accounting scandals, executive shake-ups and declining business over the past two years.

In 2002, Liberate suspended then-Chief Operating Officer Donald Fitzpatrick for alleged misrepresentation of its revenue. In 2003, the company's second-largest individual shareholder, David Lockwood, replaced Mitchell Kertzman as CEO and swapped out key executives with his own associates.

Kertzman, now a partner at venture capital firm Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, is a member of the board of directors of CNET Networks, publisher of News.com.