Minnesota company's chat-with-your-pet technology may produce legal catfight

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Some pet owners will tell you the worst part about a vacation is missing Fido or Fluffy back home.

Well, now there's a product for them. Two, in fact. And a Twin Cities company is marking its territory in what smells like a potential patent infringement case.

Burnsville-based Anser Innovation has been working for years on PetChatz, a wall-mounted system that includes a camera, speaker, microphone, and even a treat dispenser, all of which are operated remotely.

It's a little like setting up a Skype session with your pet, City Pages says. PetChatz illustrates how it works with a video:

The company had been aiming to ship its first orders early this year, but finally did so this week.

Nick Halter of the Business Journal discussed it with FOX 9.

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An interesting twist in the rollout was reported by the Pioneer Press, which says a Silicon Valley company called PetziConnect is selling its own lower-priced alternative to PetChatz.

A PetChatz unit sells for $350 while PetziConnect, which has no screen for the pet to see the owner, sells in the $170 to $190 range, the Pioneer Press says.

Securing the patents for the two-way communication technology at the heart of PetChatz has been a focus for Anser Innovation. The company's founder, Lisa Lavin, tells the Pioneer Press Anser is not pursuing any legal action at the moment, but she promised that "we will be protecting our intellectual property."

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