For the eleventh time Rovi has alleged infringement of one of their patents by Virgin Media and now Rovi’s eleventh patent has been revoked.

The Court of Appeal judgement handed down on 26 November 2015 in Rovi Guides Inc v Virgin Media Ltd & Others [2015] EWCA Civ 1214 upholds a High Court ruling from May 2014 that found Rovi’s patent to be invalid.

Rovi had sued Virgin Media for alleged infringement of their patent relating to enabling a viewer to interact with their television to cause it to display information, e.g. about a “pay-per- view” event.  The way the system does this is to send two signals to the television; one to display a superimposed icon or text on the screen that prompts the viewer to request further information (an “identification signal”) and the other to display the resultant information (an “information signal”).

By the time the case got to appeal, the Court of Appeal were asked to decide over the inventive step of a particular dependent claim.  The heart of this matter lay in the construction of terms in this dependent claim, which included the phrase that the identification signal comprises “data defining an icon or textual matter alerting a viewer to the availability of information or data enabling access to such an icon or textual matter as may be already stored on said computer”, i.e. how the prompt to request more information is displayed on the screen.  

The Court of Appeal, citing Nokia v IPCom, rejected Rovi’s submissions that this definition of the identification signal should be read in light of the patent specification and optional features related to this feature should be translated into requirements in the claim, which as a dependent claim should be interpreted as being distinguished over the claim upon which it depends.  Instead the Court of Appeal construed this phrase to have the meaning given to it by the particular language used, citing Virgin Atlantic v Premium, and thus found the claim to lack inventive step.

Rovi’s patent was therefore revoked in full and they were ordered to pay Virgin Media’s cost, bringing to an end a long saga of Rovi unsuccessfully trying to assert their patents against Virgin Media.