Light Reading

OpenTV Guns for Netflix

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

OpenTV Corp. is siccing its lawyers on Netflix Inc., claiming Netflix's over-the-top (OTT) video streaming service infringes on seven OpenTV patents.

OpenTV, a subsidiary of Switzerland-based Kudelski Group that makes middleware, advanced advertising systems and other video software products, filed the suit Wednesday with the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

According to court documents obtained by Light Reading Cable, OpenTV alleges that the patents identified in the suit cover several key elements to the Netflix streaming service, including Netflix's use of content delivery network (CDN) messaging, the presentation of interactive programming using HTML and other "scripting languages," user profiles that provide customers with content recommendations, and the operation of Netflix's fast-forward and fast-rewind functions.

OpenTV, whose software is in about 200 million set-tops globally, also calls out Netflix's use of a "next episode" and "more episode" navigation element in its user interface.

OpenTV alleges that Netflix is "willfully" infringing these patents:

  • No. 6,018,768: "Enhanced Video Programming System and Method for Incorporating and Displaying Retrieved Integrated Internet Information Segments"
  • No. 6,233,736: "Media Online Service Access System and Method"
  • No. 7,055,169: "Supporting Common Interactive Television Functionality through Presentation Engine Syntax"
  • No. 7,409,437: "Enhanced Video Programming System and Method for Incorporating and Displaying Retrieved Integrated Internet Information Segments"
  • No. 7,490,346: "Digital Television Application Protocol for Interactive Television"
  • No. 7,949,722: "Enhanced Video Programming System and Method Utilizing User-Profile Information"
  • No. 8,107,786: "Systems and Methods to Modify Playout or Playback"

OpenTV said it filed the suit after it tried and failed to get Netflix to license its technology, noting that it first reached out to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on Dec. 15, 2011. Netflix, which ended the third quarter with 25.1 million U.S. streaming subscribers, was not immediately available for comment.

Why this matters
The suit, if successful, puts Netflix at risk of a permanent injunction, or at least a settlement that could involve license fees. OpenTV's targeting of Netflix might also be just the start, and become a cause of concern for other OTT video services.

And the suit creates yet another distraction for Netflix, which is being pressured by activist investor Carl Icahn.

For more

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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