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November 30, 2023
Elon Musk's X, formerly known as Twitter, is engaged in a pair of lawsuits with Adeia, a relatively new entity with a large portfolio of patents. Adeia's holdings include several patents tied to video streaming, program guides and content recommendation technologies related to Rovi and TiVo.
Those lawsuits surfaced as patent-related talks between the companies broke down.
Adeia spun out of Xperi in October 2022, becoming a separately traded public company focused solely on intellectual property and patents. Xperi, which is also publicly held, is focused on products and services that include TiVo's operating system, software services, streaming devices and set-tops/DVRs.
The trouble got underway in August when Adeia sued X for breach of a patent license agreement (PLA) because X ceased making royalty payments. X's PLA with Adeia covers a handful of patents centered on the resizing of content based on importance, enhancing social media posts with relevant content, content recommendations and managing the impressions of advertising campaigns.
X: Public fee disclosure triggered licensing agreement termination
X, which believes the Adeia patents in question aren't relevant to the services that X provides, terminated its PLA with Adeia via a letter (PDF) dated November 28, 2023. X claims it has the right to scuttle the PLA because Adeia "disclosed substantive terms" of its license agreement with X in violation of the PLA.
X's complaint (PDF), filed on November 28 with a California court, cites a passage in Adeia's lawsuit against X disclosing that the PLA centered on a non-refundable, recurring fee of $3 million over the life of the agreement. X alleges that the public disclosure of those fees established the legal grounds for X to terminate its PLA with Adeia.
Such a "material breach" entitles X to terminate the PLA, X claimed.
X confirmed to the court that it has ceased making royalty payments under the PLA with Adeia.
"Based on the parties' recent communications, X believes the parties have reached an impasse with respect to any future licensing of Adeia's patents," X told the court. "X does not believe there is any reason for it to license Adeia's patents because Adeia's patents, including the Declaratory Judgment Patents, do not cover any of X’s products and services."
"Our position is that this lawsuit is without merit," Adeia told Reuters.
X also believes it faces an "imminent threat" from Adeia as the company boosts its focus on social media technology and streaming, including patent licensing deals with the likes of Google/YouTube, NBCU's Peacock and Paramount Global (including Pluto TV). X amplified that point by citing Light Reading's interview with Adeia CEO Paul Davis in October 2022. In it, Davis noted that Adeia's media-focused business was poised to expand into areas such as streaming and social media amid the ongoing decline of traditional pay TV.
Update: It appears that Adeia has abandoned its X handle amid its cantankerous relationship with the social media company. Adeia's profile on X notes that, as of April 7, 2023, its account will no longer be updated, instead directing visitors to the company's LinkedIn account.
Senior Editor, Light Reading
Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.
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