Personalized Media Communications LLC, the holder of nearly 100 patents relating to streaming media, filed suit in the Eastern District of Texas against several major media companies this spring - including Netflix and Google.
The complaints PMC filed against Netflix, Google and Akami primarily focused on six patents, all related to "signal processing apparatus and methods." From enabling users to request a list of programming, to controlling how programming displays, PMC alleges that their patents are the reason Netflix and other platforms can deliver quality streaming media to their customers.
The patents at issue in these disputes are based on inventions created by John C. Harvey and James W. Cuddihy in the 1980s. Harvey and Cuddihy saw the potential for the use of computer network technology to "automate media delivery" - one of the building blocks of streaming media.
PMC has already licensed much of its intellectual property to other companies, such as Fox, Sony, Samsung, The Weather Channel, Motorola, and DirecTV. The company is also no stranger to patent litigation, including suits against several firms that now license their technology.1 The lawsuit against Google is reportedly the result of ten years of failed licensing negotiations between the two companies.
PMC's latest disputes
In its complaint against Netflix, PMC contends that the content delivery network Netflix uses, "Open Connect," infringes PMC's patented signal processing methods. Senior Vice President and General Counsel of PMC Thomas J. Scott told IPWatchdog.com that the firms named in these lawsuits allegedly infringe on its patents by:
- employing technology that allows users to request certain content and the network to determine whether that user is entitled to such content;
- using network signals to present content on devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops; and
- automatically delivering software updates to change processing techniques within the network.
In a press release, PMC's Senior Advisor Boyd Lemna noted that "[I]n the current licensing environment, the continued success of our program rests upon clearly demonstrating that PMC's patents are enforceable and that PMC is serious about enforcing them."
Tech-based companies must be especially diligent
PMC's ongoing efforts to enforce their patent rights highlight the importance of intellectual property in today's economy. The vast majority of companies hold some form of IP, whether they know it or not, and protecting it is essential to securing current and future value streams. Working with skilled intellectual property and commercial law attorneys can help any size business defend their valuable assets.
1 For example: Personalized Media Communications, LLC v. Samsung Electronics America, Inc. et al, Case No. 2-15-cv-01754-JRG-RSP; Personalized Media Communications LLC v. Apple Inc., Case No. 2-15-cv-01366-JRG-RSP; Personalized Media Communications, L.L.C. v. Motorola, Inc., et. al., Case No. 2-08-cv-00070-RSP.