The Federal Circuit upheld the district court’s damages award of approximately $140 million for Sprint after Time Warner was found to infringe claims of five patents covering technologies related to methods for linking circuit-switched and packet-switched networks within a telecommunications system. Despite the nonprecedential designation, Circuit Judge Haldane Mayer issued a dissenting opinion reflecting his views that the damages award should be vacated and the asserted patent claims found invalid for failing the written description requirement… The Federal Circuit majority also disagreed with Time Warner that the references to the 25 percent rule of thumb in the 2007 Vonage verdict made it inadmissible as evidence to the jury in district court.
John O’Quinn, partner at Kirkland & Ellis and counsel representing Time Warner at the Federal Circuit, argued that the entire verdict should be vacated, not just the damages portion, because the court allowed the jury to use a 2007 verdict granted to Sprint against Vonage on the same asserted patents as evidence to determine the damages award. That verdict involved the use of a 25 percent rule of thumb for determining a royalty rate, a rule that the Federal Circuit has subsequently held to be inappropriate in a landmark ruling in 2011.
TiVo files patent lawsuits, the latest steps TiVo has taken in the hopes of resolving the renewal of a long-term licensing agreement that TiVo has already has already finalized with other major pay-television providers in the United States… TiVo’s recent litigation campaign against Comcast stems back to an unresolved licensing agreement that expired in April 2016 and which TiVo has attempted to renew with the major American pay-TV provider. Rovi first signed licensing agreements with the top pay-TV providers in the U.S., including Comcast, Dish Network, DirecTV and Time Warner, back in 2003 and 2004 with each deal lasting for a period of 12 years. In 2015 and 2016, around the same time that Rovi acquired TiVo for about $1.1 billion, the company began proactively engaging in licensing talks, again striking long-term deals like 10-year agreements with both AT&T and Dish. Of the top 10 pay-TV providers in the United States, Comcast is the last holdout who has not signed a licensing deal with TiVo.
Another regulatory issue other than antitrust thatis likely to surface during review of the AT&T-Time Warner merger is zero rating, or the practice of providing content for free to consumers on a network. The way that the FCC has implemented net neutrality certainly would indicate that zero rating would likely be regulated at some point, even though it would do so to the likely detriment of the American consumer… This June, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler indicated that the investigation into zero rating practices was ongoing. In mid-October, a group of 76 organizations signed another letter urging the FCC to issue rules making zero rating illegal, so the momentum in this area looks like it’s increasing.
The reason why net neutrality came up in the American political discourse in late 2014 has much to do with paid prioritization. Paid prioritization is an agreement in which a broadband service provider negotiates an arrangement with a content provider that results in the content provider being given priority access at congested Internet nodes. The Obama administration came out strongly on the topic of paid prioritization, calling for it to be explicitly banned by the FCC. The White House also called for rules preventing ISPs from blocking content or intentionally throttling any kind of data transmission. By the end of September 2014, the FCC had received 3.7 million public comments on the subject of net neutrality.
Rovi will be looking to add about 1100 patents that TiVo currently owns and strengthen its portfolio of over 10,000. Rovi generates over 27% of its income by licensing it’s IP to prominent cable TV providers. A great chunk of Rovi’s income also comes from litigating against other players infringing on its patents… TiVo has been very active in filling patents on data acquisition and data processing; which would come in handy for Rovi’s media guides to improve on. The average strength of TiVo’s patents in certain domains like recommendations and filtering relevant results could be directly applicable to OTT providers. TiVo also has strong patents in security, data processing and which will be valuable to Rovi in pursuing licensing deals with Amazon, Hulu and Netflix.
It’s great that John Oliver brought the subject of patent trolls, about which IPWatchdog has already produced some considerable coverage, to an audience that topped 1.4 million viewers. But there are a significant number of stakeholders in the ongoing patent debate who are not in favor of the Innovation Act and they’re not, as John Oliver would have you believe, simply lobbyists for trial lawyers. For example, the Innovation Alliance, which is made up of innovator companies, does not support the Innovation Act. Neither do independent inventor groups, independent inventors, innovative startup companies, biotechnology companies or universities. If John Oliver is for helping small business victims of patent trolls while preserving patent rights he should actually be promoting the STRONG Patents Act and not the Innovation Act.