Virgin and Gemstar meet in High Court

By Julian Clover | June 7, 2009

Virgin Media will this week face a High Court challenge over the alleged breach of three European patents in the Gemstar portfolio. The case was brought in January 2008 by Gemstar-TV Guide, then owned by News Corp, though now a part of Macrovision.

At the time Gemstar said the value of its European patent portfolio had already been recognised by leading service providers. These now include UPC, which in April signed an agreement licensing patents for electronic programme guides across multiple European territories. Virgin has described the claims as being “without merit”.

The action relates to three patents covering the display of electronic programme guides in a format that will be familiar in many markets both in Europe and across the world. The detail extends to the method that is used to move between channels and the amount of time that might be displayed on screen at any one time.

Patent EP 1613066 is particularly interesting in that it relates to the recording of programmes through a personal video recorder.
The hearing is expected to last three weeks.
The Patents

Abstract of EP 0969662 (A1)
An electronic program guide comprising: television program listings, each listing including title, telecast time, and channel, a time and channel grid guide (24) in which some of the television program listings are displayed, a moveable cursor (32) for selectively highlighting one of the television program listings displayed in the grid guide, means for changing the time and channel grid guide (24) into a single channel guide (58) of the channel of a highlighted television program listing.

Abstract of EP 1377049 (A1)
Screen (10) for a user interface of a television schedule system and process consists of an array (24) of irregular cells (26), which vary in length, corresponding to different program lengths of one half to one-and-one half hours or more. Because of the widely varying length of the cells (26), if a conventional cursor used to select a cell location were to simply step from one cell to another, the result would be abrupt changed in the screen (10). By restricting cursor movements to the regular cells, abrupt screen changes will be avoided. A conventional offset shadow (34), which is a black bar, underlines the entire cell and wraps around the right edge of the cell. To tag the underlying position which defines where the cursor (32) is and thus, where it will move next portions (36) of the black bar outside the current underlying position arc segmented, while the current position is painted solid.

Abstract of EP 1613066 (A2)
A method for transferring recorded programs using an interactive television program guide implemented on user television equipment, the method comprising displaying in a display screen at least one program listing related to at least one program enabling a user to select a program listing from the at least one displayed program listing recording the program related to the at least one displayed program listing on a digital storage device; displaying at least one recorded program listing for at least one program recorded on the digital storage device, wherein the at least one recorded program listing includes a recorded program listing for the program recorded on the digital storage device; enabling the user to select the recorded program listing to transfer the recorded program from the digital storage device to a secondary storage device; ; and transferring the recorded program from the digital storage device to a secondary storage device.