ITC Affirms Netflix Win Over Rovi

The U.S. International Trade Commission on Friday (November 1) affirmed an earlier ruling that Netflix’s streaming software did not infringe on Rovi Corp. patents linked to interactive program guide technology, though Rovi has since pledged to keep the fight going in the U.S. District Court.

In the ruling, Lisa R. Barton, acting secretary to the Commission, largely agreed with Administrative Law Judge David P. Shaw’s initial decision in June that Rovi did not infringe four Rovi patents.  In the complaint, filed in May 2012, Rovi had argued that its intellectual property was being violated when Netflix software was used on certain devices made overseas and then imported to the U.S., including TVs made by LG Electronics, Mitsubishi and Vizio, as well as a Vizio tablet, according to Law 360.

“The Commission affirms with modified reasoning the ALJ’s finding that the importation requirement is not met for all of the asserted patents,” Barton wrote. She also affirmed the ALJ’s findings that three Rovi patents were valid, but not infringed, while a fourth is invalid and not infringed.

Rovi, meanwhile, holds that the ITC matter was confined solely to the limited functionality of the Netflix app embedded on certain device models made offshore, rather than the full Netflix offering that  is added to those devices when they are imported and the service is activated.

In response to the Friday’s ruling, Samir Armaly, Rovi’s executive vice president of worldwide intellectual property and licensing, said the ITC found that the Netflix app embedded offshore “had very limited functionality at the time it was imported to the U.S. and therefore what was imported was not infringing.”

Further, he added, “We believe that in the U.S. District Court, where our case continues, the determination of infringement will be based on Netflix’s entire service offering and the full-functionality that is added after devices are imported and the service activated. Given this focus, we anticipate a favorable verdict.”