Interactive TV software company Liberate Technologies has agreed to sell the assets of its North American business to a joint venture between Comcast and Cox Communications for $82 million.

Liberate will sell substantially all of the assets, including patents and other intellectual property, of its North American business to Double C Technologies, LLC, a joint venture majority owned and controlled by Comcast Corporation with a minority investment by Cox Communications.

The parties will cross-license technology and intellectual property to one another following the deal, which is worth $82 million in cash to Liberate. The joint venture will offer to employ around 130 Liberate staff, mainly based in Canada, while Liberate will retain its European operation.

“Comcast believes strongly in the future of interactive television and the need for customers to have TV on their terms. This acquisition, along with our earlier investment in Guideworks and our innovative video-on-demand platform, will enable Comcast to move faster toward creating a more interactive television experience,” said Steve Silva of Comcast.

“Purchasing Liberate’s North American assets will give us greater control over the software platform that will help drive new features that distinguish us from other providers as well as position us to be able to deliver new services that will be enabled by OCAP compliant software in the future.”

David Lockwood, the chairman and chief executive of Liberate Technologies said that the acquisition “demonstrates the strategic importance of the technology we have designed and built”.

The deal will not be completed until Liberate dismisses its bankruptcy appeal in California federal courts. Liberate filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May 2004.

It marks the beginning of the end game for Liberate, which positioned itself as a hot start-up company in the interactive television sector, but its fortunes declined after the dot-com boom, culminating with the suspension of its chief operating officer following alleged misrepresentation of revenues.