U.K. Court Rules Three Rovi IPG Patents Are Invalid

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A British court found that cable operator Virgin Media infringed three patents for interactive program guides owned by Rovi but also ruled that the patents were invalid.

In January 2008, Gemstar-TV Guide International  -- subsequently acquired by Rovi -- sued Virgin Media for patent infringement.

Rovi said it will appeal the decision, issued by the High Court of Justice in the United Kingdom. In addition, Rovi senior vice president of worldwide patent licensing Samir Armaly added: "We also intend to continue to pursue Virgin and other unlicensed companies for their infringement of our intellectual property, to join the numerous companies who have already taken licenses to our patents issued throughout the world."

The case involved three European patents issued to Rovi predecessor companies: EP0969662 ("A television schedule system," issued to Starsight Telecast); EP1377049 ("User interface for television schedule system," also issued to Starsight); and EP1613066 ("Electronic program guide with digital storage," issued to United Video Properties).

When it filed suit in 2008, Gemstar-TV Guide claimed it had attempted to negotiate a licensing deal for the IPG patents with Virgin Media covering the operator's set-top boxes.

Separately, last week Virgin Media announced a deal with TiVo, which will supply the cable company's next-generation user interface and set-top middleware.

Rovi, which changed its name from Macrovision Solutions earlier this year, retained the IPG business unit of Gemstar-TV Guide and sold the TV Guide Network and other media properties including TV Guide magazine.  Gemstar-TV Guide was notoriously aggressive in pursuing licensing agreements for its IPG patents as well as suing companies for allegedly infringing them.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Rovi claims it owns the rights to more than 4,200 issued or pending patents worldwide.

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