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Hulu being sued by Rovi for patent infringement

hulu suitHulu gets more bad news this week. The online television service is being sued by Rovi Corp for alleged patent infringement. Rovi claims that Hulu has infringed on three patents related to program guides and search; they are looking to be compensated for their lost revenue.

The complaint, Rovi Corp. V. Hulu LLC, was filed via federal court in Wilmington, Delaware yesterday. Rovi is specifically suing in regards to US patent number(s) 6,396,546; 7,103,906 ; and 7,769,775. According to the company, the patent infringement “presents significant and ongoing damages to Rovi’s business.”

According to Reuters, Rovi was formed when Macrovision Corp. absorbed Gemstar-TV guide a few years ago. Among other things they provide guidance systems for TVs and other entertainment devices. The company is also a big part of Blockbuster’s On Demand and Best Buy’s CinemaNow services. Rovi claims more than a thousand program guide patents and says it licenses its products to big companies like as Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, Comcast, Sony and more.

GigOM believes that threatening litigation is part of the way Rovi enters into discussions for licensing their intellectual property. In the past, Rovi has sued both Toshiba and Virgin media. This year Toshiba agreed to license and use Rovi’s interactive programming guide; however, Virgin manged to shimmy out of the trap due to the patents being invalid. In the beginning of this year the aggressive patent defender sued Amazon’s IMDb over five program guide patents.

Hulu hasn’t commented on the matter. Earlier this week Fox decided to restrict access to their content online, making non-Hulu Plus members wait a week to watch recently aired episodes. Hulu has also recently been put up for sale by its many owners, and though there are good number of potential buyers, no one has made a definite commitment to buy yet.

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