Virgin Media Wins U.K. Ruling in Rovi, Gemstar Patent Appeal

Virgin Media Inc. won a U.K. appeal ruling affirming it didn’t infringe European patents for interactive program guides held by Rovi Corp.’s Gemstar-TV Guide International because the patents were deemed invalid.

The ruling today by a three-judge panel in the Court of Appeal in London upholds a lower court decision from 2009 that two of Gemstar’s three patents in the case, which relate to television channel-guide systems, weren’t innovative enough to be valid. Gemstar didn’t appeal over the third invalid patent.

“The judge was plainly right,” Justice Robin Jacob said in the ruling, referring the lower court’s earlier judgment. “The appeal should be dismissed.”

The complaint over interactive program guides, which are Gemstar’s main product, was filed in 2008 after the two sides weren’t able to reach a licensing agreement, Los Angeles-based Gemstar said at the time.

Today’s judgment “comprehensively” ends the three-year legal dispute, said Scott Dresser, Virgin Media’s general counsel.

“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,” Dresser said in a statement.

Rovi, the Santa Clara, California-based provider of TV guides, parental controls and other interactive-video systems, was formed in 2008 through the acquisition of Gemstar by Macrovision Corp.

Rovi spokeswoman Linda Quach didn’t respond to e-mail and voicemail messages seeking comment.