NEW YORK - Viacom Inc sued Cablevision Systems Corp to halt what it called the unauthorized streaming of its programing on devices such as Apple Inc's iPad.
The lawsuit was filed on Thursday in Manhattan federal court, one day after court documents showed that Cablevision's larger rival Time Warner Cable Inc and Viacom are trying to settle a similar dispute, and have put related lawsuits on hold while they try.
Viacom said Cablevision's April 2 launch of Optimum App, a computer application to allow streaming of television programs through a cable modem to iPad tablets, violates its agreement to distribute Viacom programing only on cable TV systems.
The popularity of mobile devices such as iPads has caused friction between content providers and cable companies such as Viacom over whether various means of distribution violate contractual or trademark rights.
Viacom's lawsuit seeks a halt to Cablevision's alleged improper streaming, $2 million for each trademark violation, compensatory and punitive damages, and other remedies.
Jim Maiella, a Cablevision spokesman, said the Optimum App "falls within our existing cable television licensing agreements with programmers, including Viacom."
Cablevision is based in Bethpage, New York, and has about 3.7 million customers, a regulatory filing shows. Time Warner Cable has about 14.5 million customers, another filing shows.
Viacom, whose chief executive is Philippe Dauman and executive chairman is Sumner Redstone, is based in New York. Its channels include MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Black Entertainment Television, Comedy Central and Country Music Television.
Cablevision also owns properties such as the Long Island, New York, newspaper Newsday. Its chief executive, James Dolan, is also executive chairman of Madison Square Garden Co, which controls the New York Rangers hockey team, New York Knicks basketball team and Radio City Music Hall.
In afternoon trading, Cablevision shares were down 84 cents, or 2.4 percent, at $34.52, while Viacom's Class B shares were down 91 cents, or 1.9 percent, at $47.74.
The case is Viacom International Inc et al v. Cablevision Systems Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-04265.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Matthew Lewis, Dave Zimmerman)