A federal judge in the Northern District of California ruled that two patents asserted against Apple Inc. are invalid for failure to meet the patent-eligibility test as established in Alice. The patents are asserted by OpenTV, Inc., a subsidiary of Kudelski SA. OpenTV accuses Apple services such as Apple TV and iTunes of infringing patents generally directed to secure transmission of media content to a target device, such as a television, computer, or smartphone.
U.S. Patent No. 6,148,081 is generally directed to controlling interactive television access to media content. U.S. Patent No. 7,644,429 is generally directed to conditional access to pay-per-view and broadcast television programs based on user information. The Court stated that “[t]he practice of controlling access to information by verifying credentials (via well-known encryption methods) is neither novel nor specific to interactive television systems” and that “[g]ranting access to a product (pay-per-view programming for example) after confirming that the user has paid for the product and provided certain product-specific information has been a well-known practice in the cable industry for decades.” The Court went on to say that both patents require nothing more than a general purpose computer with well-known components. The Court held that both patents at issue are directed to abstract ideas and are invalid.
OpenTV, Inc. et al v. Apple Inc., No. 5:15-cv-02008 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 28, 2016) (Davila, E.).