back to article Virgin Media trashes patent infringement accusations

Virgin Media has slammed a High Court patent infringement lawsuit brought by the firm behind the massive US TV Guide franchise as an act of "flagrant opportunism". TV Guide has gone all techie thanks to the rise of digital cable, and Gemstar-TV Guide International reckons it has now has "one of the world's most extensive …


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  1. Marc-Oliver Kalis

    Patent Trolls

    Now the £$^£$"%" yanks are coming over the pond to start the crap here too!

    I am no friend of Virgin Media, but for once, I have to say:

    hammer them hit them where it hurts!!!

    I am all in favour for patents, but not this non-sense, that is nothing but a list of some features!

    Absolute NO to software patents!

    They do nothing more but hinder further development and purely fill the pockets of some patent troll!!!

    Me agroed? My blood just comes to a boil, when I see how everybody seems to think that the crap what we get from the other side of the pond sounds cool, so we have to do it too, even though it's already been proven non-sensical!!!

    BTW: @ El Reg: can't you add a shotgun or even better, a fully automatic rifle (maybe something like the German H&K G11 or even the MG3) as an icon, to be used specifically for reports relating to the YOU ES EY?

  2. Mike Hunt

    Infringe this

    My Virgin EPG is shit--it's no better than the old NTL EPG and that was shit too. All I want is technology that "just works" and isn't garish or intrusive and lets me tweak it (ie turn off the bits I don't want--who wants to have to scroll through listings for six hundred channels of unwatchable crap to find the half a dozen that are tolerable?)

  3. Robin Mosse
    Thumb Up


    Gemstar is crap, it's what makes so many PVR's fail to do what they are asked and the idea of patenting something so flaky and obvious is absurd. Go Virgin! Kick arse!

    Has SKY paid up I wonder.....

  4. eddiewrenn

    I can't believe them...

    Can someone whose followed the situation tell me who I should be feeling all righteous and angry for? Did Viirgin steal or is it sheer greed? Hurry because I'm angry,

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Another Acacia Research Corporation scam

    Looks like another company that has built up its patent portfolio by buying up patents with the sole interest in licensing 'their' technologies to large corporations companies, or failing that just suing them. I see not much has changed since 2004...

  6. Alan Lukaszewicz

    Nice one!

    Nice one beardy!

  7. Stephen Clifford

    Has Sky paid up?

    "Has SKY paid up I wonder....." someone asks.

    At the moment, Gemstar is, I believe, 40% owned by News Corporation (although News Corp are in the process of selling up to Macrovision).

    I'm sure you can make your own conclusions to that, and your own conspiracy theories,

  8. Anonymous Coward


    FFS, I wish people would stop patenting the digital implementation of something that already exists in the real world (shopping carts, TV Guides). It's a fucking list of what is going to be on TV. If anyone should be filing a lawsuit, it should be the roman empire for all of us stealing the gaddamn roman calendar without paying appropriate licensing fees.

    I anxiously await the next Windows Update to remove my infringing clock code.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Oh, *those* patents

    >> EP(UK)0969662, EP(UK)1377049, and EP(UK)1613066

    Oh yes, I know those ones. Why didn't you mention the numbers sooner, would have saved me from reading the rest of the article. It is quite clear from just looking at those numbers that Gemstar doesn't have a leg to stand on (sarcasm BTW, just in case).

    Actually, I have just been to look up the ones which exist (1377049 doesn't seem to exist). They all appear to be extremely trivial, the sort of thing that you would come up with if you had to knock up a electronic program guide in an afternoon (i.e. design and test Sky's EPG from scratch - using only a chalk and small piece of slate). Basically seems to consist of displaying a list of programs which can be recorded by selecting them with a cursor and transferring recordings to another recording device by selecting them with a cursor. Hardly giant leaps in user interface design.

    I don't see the value in allowing user interfaces to be patentable. The whole point of a patent, is that the inventor gets exclusive right to the invention in return letting others see how the invention works. I don't see how it is possible to hide the workings of a user interface. Moreover, the whole point of user interfaces is that they should be intuitive, by following common design principles; by restricting use of an interface it inspires companies to create their own diverse interfaces, which surely can't be good for users.

    PS. What's the PH angle on "Virgin Media", anything but I would have thought?

  10. Chris Donald

    Hope Virgin sock it to 'em good..

    It'd be very nice to see patent trolls spiked and skewered legally and to lose all their ill gotten gains in the process.

    Perhaps I should have written up and patented my own stuff and then trolled Mercedes and other car companies LOL (Proof that anyone can think of stuff).

    Ten years ago, I discussed over a drink ideas for an infra red laser automatic speed cruise control with sidelooking ability to detect white lines and cars coming up the inside and outside (for overtaking). I was shocked when it came up a few years later LOL.

    Perhaps a few good oddball patent numbers would have made me rich by now?

    Would that have been remotely fair? LOL.

  11. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Not Applicable

    Virgin Media = UK

    Gemstar = US

    Dumb-ass US patent laws patenting the obvious and/or software do not apply in the UK (or Europe). Admittedly, the large US cartels are bribing, oops, lobbying the EU MEPs to change this but currently these patents are not applicable in any way in the UK.

  12. Dave Bell

    So should it even be a patent?

    From what has been described here, it occurs to me that this could have been better protected in some other branch of IP law, perhaps relating to designs.

    It seems very flimsy as a patent, with the enormous body of prior art going back the Xerox PARC.

  13. TeeCee Gold badge


    The reason we don't pay license fees to the Roman Empire is that we're using the Gregorian calender.

    They are similar enough that I reckon Julius Caesar has a good case for copyright infringement against Pope Gregory XIII though.....

  14. Nick Palmer

    @Mike Hunt "Infringe this"

    Mike, that's what the Favourites settings are for, so that you don't HAVE to wade through 600 channels (although I have to say I think that's a LITTLE exaggerated...).

    As for the patents, prior art or obviousness'll deal with those. **** Gemstar. Go, Virgin - kick arse!

  15. John

    Virgin's Guide

    @Mike Hunt:

    Have you ever actually looked at the Virgin/NTL guide? You've always been able to rearrange the channels so that the ones you want are arranged together in whatever order you like. It'll also move all the channels you're not subscribed to out of the way all by itself in one easy step.

    It's not the best guide in the world, but it's not as bad as you make out. (Actually, I preferred the old NTL one, because they actually took away a few features in an update early last year.) Indeed, I'm now on Freeview instead of Virgin, and the Guide on my TVonics box is definitely superior to the NTL one.

  16. Karl Lattimer

    Patent blocking

    Surely you can't file a patent for something which is the only sensible way of doing something... wouldn't that be monopolistic behavior?

  17. Colin Millar
    Thumb Down

    Not worth paying for

    I've yet to see an EPG on any box that is any good.

    I got so fed up with them that I went all geeky and built a HTPC with GBPVR and XMLTV (still free for non-comm use from RadioTimes) - it does make you wonder why the commercial manufacturers can't come up with something decent.

  18. Louis Cowan


    If this works, I wonder if the BBC would be able to pursue everyone in the US for owning a television without a television licence...

  19. Joe K
    Thumb Down


    Maybe this'll make Virgin update that slow, outdated piece of crap TV guide.

    Either way, i hope the UK courts take a dim view of this US troll attempt.

  20. Rodrigo Andrade

    @Brent Gardner

    Roman calendar has been out of use for quite a respectable while, actually. We use the Gregorian calendar.

  21. popper

    loose the antiquated VM liberate middleware and end users win

    in one way this court case could finally make Vm replace the antiquated liberate middleware and its related backend and that would be for the good of every end user if they didnt buy in something even slower and STB CPU stealing, that thing needs all the help it can get even on the V= boxs neevr mind the older SD STBS.

    however this case is also about software patents and as already mentioned not a valid case in this country, unless they have other options we have not been told about ?

    so we are unlikely to see the liberate replaced,and thats the biggest shame for us end users.

    take your vote, replace the current liberate GUI or let the US gamestar force a payment or two, on gets you money spent on your stb for the better, the other payed out your cash to these jokers.

    remember though the VM executive board are US based and the money you pay finds its way into these US directors pockets eather way....

    a very nice cash cow eather way for the US directors for all intents and purposes.

    BTW, you cant now rearrange or hide the VM channels since the VM stb updates anymore, if you use the leaft/right buttons on the handset

    eather way all versions of the NTL:tw:VM liberate gui are plain crud however you look at it.

    one final thought, this liberate middleware GUI works by using a very old and limited subset of html code, so is it really a cripped web browser and so not covered by these patents?, question questions, we need aswers it seems and a good base for our future long term VM GUIs.

    rebol/view gets my vote as its fast fully TCP:ip based and scriptable, just what the doctor ordered...,take a look, you might like it,a and best of all its multi OS ready ... today.

  22. fred base

    I've not yet found a TV guide that betters Digiguide, see

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