Published: 11.26 Europe/London, March 29, 2011

The Court of Appeal has rejected an appeal by Gemstar TV-Guide international in response to the patent case brought against Virgin Media.

Gemstar, now owned by Rovi Corporation (the former Macrovision), originally issued proceedings against Virgin Media in January 2008. It has alleged infringements of three patents relating to the various uses of electronic programme guides (EPGs); EP 0969662, EP 1377049 and EP 1613066. The patents related to navigation between screen displays, filtering channel lists into viewers’ favourites and transferring a recorded programme from a set-top box to another device.

In November 2009 the High Court in London, backing Virgin’s arguments ruled the patents were not novel, obvious, or simply unpatentable under English law. The decision means the patents will now be revoked. In his summing up, Lord Justice Laws said: “I think the point is very clear indeed. The Judge was plainly right.”

Broadband TV News understands that patents which previously applied to the new Virgin Media TiVo box have been licensed directly by TiVo.

Scott Dresser, General Counsel at Virgin Media said in a statement: “Today’s judgment comprehensively dismisses Gemstar’s claim, confirming their patents are not valid and bringing an end to over three years of legal dispute. We have vigorously defended our assertion that Gemstar’s claim was unfounded and that they should not have brought this case and the Court agrees emphatically.”

The decision brings into question much of Rovi’s continued patent licensing program in the EPG field. Only today the company announced it had added the Luxembourg-based M7 Group to its list of signatories, joining pay-TV providers that also include KDG, Canal+, BSkyB, Portugal Telecom, Sky Italia, Sky Deutschland, Unitymedia and UPC Broadband.