Judge Rules Verizon Claims On Two Patents Are Invalid In ActiveVideo, Cablevision Litigation

A federal judge last week invalidated claims of two Verizon Communications-owned patents, which the telco had accused ActiveVideo Networks -- an interactive TV vendor whose biggest customer is Cablevision Systems -- of infringing.

In May 2010, ActiveVideo sued Verizon alleging the telco's FiOS TV service infringes five of its patents for interactive TV and video-on-demand technologies.

Verizon subsequently countersued, claiming ActiveVideo infringed four of the telco's patents.

In January ActiveVideo sought a ruling invalidating the claims in two of them, and in a May 10 order Judge Raymond A. Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted that request.

The judge invalidated all asserted claims of the two Verizon patents: U.S. Patent No. 5,682,325 ("Level 1 gateway for video tone networks"), which was included in a suit against ActiveVideo; and U.S. Patent No. 6,381,748 ("Apparatus and methods for network access using a set top box and television"), which was included in suits against both ActiveVideo and Cablevision.

"The decision is important to ActiveVideo and to our customers," ActiveVideo president and CEO Jeff Miller said in a statement. "Obviously we're pleased at the elimination of Verizon's claims against our company, but it is equally important that the ruling removes claims by Verizon against our customer, Cablevision."

Verizon did not respond to a request for comment.

ActiveVideo is seeking an injunction barring Verizon from using technologies that allegedly infringe its patents, as well as unspecified damages. The trial is set to begin July 12, 2011; the case docket number is 2:10-CV-00248.

ActiveVideo's suit accuses Verizon FIOS TV of infringing five patents owned and used by ActiveVideo Networks: U.S. Patent No. 6,034,678, "Cable Television System With Remote Interactive Processor"; 5,550,578, "Interactive And Conventional Television Information System"; 6,100,883, "Home Interface Controller for Providing Interactive Cable Television"; 5,526,034, "Interactive Home Information System with Signal Assignment"; and 6,205,582, "Interactive Cable Television System With Frame Server."

On April 7, 2011, Judge Jackson issued a "Markman order," construing the claims of five ActiveVideo patents included in the company's suit against Verizon. "The court's construction essentially tracked ActiveVideo's proposals and provides powerful support for our infringement case against Verizon," Miller said in a statement.

According to Miller, ActiveVideo first contacted Verizon in 2005 "and tried to reach an agreement to deploy our CloudTV solution on the FiOS network. Verizon declined to do business with us and instead has infringed our patents."

San Jose, Calif.-based ActiveVideo was previously known as ICTV, before renaming itself in 2008.