By Eric Schweibenz
On October 20, 2010, Rovi Corporation, Rovi Guides, Inc., and United Video Properties, Inc. — all of Santa Clara, California — and Index Systems, Inc. of the British Virgin Islands (collectively, “Rovi”) filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to Section 337.

The complaint alleges that Toshiba Corp. of Japan, Toshiba America, Inc. of New York, New York, Toshiba America Consumer Products, L.L.C. of Wayne, New Jersey, and Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc. of Irvine, California (collectively, “Toshiba”) unlawfully import into the U.S., sell for importation, and sell within the U.S. after importation certain products containing interactive program guide (IPG) and parental controls technology, including televisions and digital video recorders, that infringe U.S. Patent Nos. 6,020,929 (the ‘929 patent), 6,305,016 (the ‘016 patent), and 6,701,523 (the ‘523 patent) (collectively, the “asserted patents”).

According to the complaint, the asserted patents are generally directed to IPG and parental controls technology.  In particular, the ‘929 patent is directed to a system and method for displaying interactive program guide data with television programming.  At least a portion of the program guide data display has a perceived partial transparency, which allows viewers to partially see television programming through the program guide data display.  The ‘016 patent is directed to a system for displaying program guide data with a perceived transparency over a selected television channel and methods for simultaneously presenting information (or alternatively, a computer-generated image using digital data) with a television program, where the information is displayed with a perceived partial transparency.  Finally, the ‘523 patent is directed to a system and method for restricting access to television programs.  A display depicts a two-dimensional matrix composed of rows and columns of tiles.  The rows (or columns) correspond to the overall program rating and the columns (or rows) correspond to specific program content indications.  A viewer may use an input (e.g., remote control) to highlight and select a tile.  Television programs are blocked or allowed for viewing based on the program ratings and specific content indications of the rows and columns corresponding to the highlighted tiles.

In the complaint, Rovi alleges that Toshiba imports and sells products that infringe the asserted patents.  In particular, the complaint names 19 Toshiba television series and 5 Toshiba digital video recorder models as infringing products.

Regarding domestic industry, Rovi states that a domestic industry exists for the asserted patents as a result of Rovi’s substantial investment in the exploitation of the asserted patents, including licensing efforts.  Rovi asserts that in relying on licensing activities to establish domestic industry, Rovi does not need to satisfy the technical prong of the domestic industry requirement.  Rovi also states that several licensees of the asserted patents practice the claimed inventions and have made and/or are making significant investments in labor or capital in the U.S.

As to related litigation, Rovi states that while the asserted patents have not been the subject of any other U.S. litigation, a counterpart European Patent (EP0757873) has successfully been litigated in Europe, resulting in a judgment of infringement against Sharp Electronics GmbH and Europe-wide licenses by Toshiba Europe GmbH and TechniSat Digital GmbH.  However, EP0757873 has since been revoked by the European Patent Office following opposition proceedings — the revocation is currently on appeal.  Additionally, Ravi states that requests for ex parte reexamination of the ‘929 patent, the ‘016 patent, and U.S. Patent No. 5,828,420 (parent of the ‘929 and ‘016 patents) were filed by third party requesters in September 2010.

With respect to potential remedy, Rovi requests that the Commission issue a permanent general exclusion order, a permanent limited exclusion order, and a permanent cease-and-desist order.