A long-running patent battle between Netflix and Rovi has concluded, with Netflix beating back the entertainment guide company.
Rovi provides digital entertainment guides to cable companies and others and has long used its patents to enforce its dominant position in the market. That strategy has come in for criticism, with Rovi’s patents being viewed as covering the basic idea of an electronic TV Guide. That was especially true when Rovi used its patents to go after Internet companies that wanted to make their own guides and not take Rovi content, like Hulu and Amazon.
In an order published yesterday, US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton invalidated (PDF) five of Rovi’s patents. One of Rovi’s patents was on “categorizing shows using combination categories.” Such combination categories could include things as simple as “sports dramas” or “romantic comedies,” as well as the long Netflix-ian categories we’re becoming used to in the Internet age, like Hamilton’s example of “critically-acclaimed foreign animated movies featuring strong female leads and set in the 1950s.”
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