Science & Technology

Amazon Wins Pay-Per-View Patent Fight



A federal appeals court has upheld a ruling in favor of, which "entertainment technology solutions" company Rovi had accused of patent infringement. The ruling seems to be a strike against overly broad patents and abusive patent assertion.

In Rovi's lawsuit, it accused Amazon of infringing on two of its patents: one allowing viewers to search for and select pay-per-view programming on a screen and another creating an electronic TV programming guide. But the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware determined that Rovi was interpreting its patent claims too broadly, and the patents didn't actually apply to what Amazon was doing. 

Rovi appealed to the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which specializes in patent appeals, asking it to broaden the patent claim definitions so it could proceed. The appellate court declined, siding with Amazon.

"It should be noted that this decision relates to only two patents in our extensive portfolio," Samir Armaly, Rovi executive vice president for intellectual property, told Reuters (menacingly?). "We believe that our portfolio is even more relevant to Amazon today and going forward than when the present litigation began in early 2011."

That's some serious patent troll swagger right there!

It might not be entirely fair to describe Rovi as a patent troll—the company does seem to legitimately provide products, and services, not just go after bigger companies with dubious patent infringement claims. But the fact that it thinks it can own the rights to an idea as broad as a TV guide that appears on a screen shows some seriously annoying audacity. The company has previously gone after Netflix and others with similar patent infringement claims. 

For more on the perils of patent litigation gone wild, see here, here, and here