Patents

Amazon Wins Pay-Per-View Patent Fight

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Rovi/Facebook

A federal appeals court has upheld a ruling in favor of Amazon.com, 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

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  1. No software should be patentable. It is not an invention, it is a creative work. If any IP applies, it’d be copyright. But Copyright is bunk.

    1. Patents don’t protect software. They can protect methods which may or may not be embodied in computer software.

    2. Copyright doesn’t work because it only protects expression, not underlying ideas. So move stuff around, code it slightly differently, and no copyright protection. That’s why it’s mostly patents these days.

      I’m fine with patent protection on a limited basis, but the PTO hands out patents like these like popcorn. That’s how so many patent trolls can do the harm they’re doing, because they have ridiculously overbroad patents that never should’ve been granted in the first place. In many instances, they fail any major test you care to come up with–not nonobvious, not without prior art, not, not, not.

      1. they have ridiculously overbroad patents that never should’ve been granted in the first place.

        Yup. Put Amazon’s one-click patent at the top of that heap.

  2. Finally some good news on the IP front.

    But doesn’t Amazon have some stupid patent on one-click shopping basket or something?

    1. Yeppers. I believe they also hold some questionable business process patents, which, as a rule, are an abomination before God and all of mankind.

  3. Lunchtime derp from Facebook:

    Reading the comments are laughable and border on treason / threats to the commander and chief.

    Twice in 24 hours quotes have been manipulated to stoke fear and fire up threats of violence which ( brace yourselves) proves the points of the anti gun lobby that gun owners are VIOLENT HOTHEADS.

    Don’t take the bait.

    He shared a post on supporting the second amendment.

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