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Netflix accused of patent infringement in Netherlands

Swiss-based Kudelski Group has filed a patents lawsuit against Netflix in the Netherlands, accusing the OTT operator of intellectual property theft relating to Internet video distribution. The filing came just three weeks after Netflix had launched an OTT video streaming service in the Netherlands for €7.99 ($10.50) per month across a range of devices, including PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Apple TV box, Wii, Wii U and several smart TV models.

The case was brought by Kudelski’s interactive TV software subsidiary OpenTV, which declined to specify which technologies the patents in the case referred to, but they are likely to be the same as or similar to those involved in a U.S. filing against Netflix by the same company in December 2012. In that case, which is still to be finally resolved, San Francisco-based OpenTV listed seven patients that it alleged Netflix had infringed, covering Content Delivery Network (CDN) messaging, presentation of interactive programming using HTML and other "scripting languages," user profiles that provide customers with content recommendations, and mechanisms for fast-forward and fast-rewind functions. That U.S. case, alleging that “Netflix is willfully infringing seven U.S. patents owned by OpenTV”, was filed in the Delaware District Court.

In a statement, Kudelski Group said OpenTV exhorted Netflix to avoid “further infringement” after its deployment in the Netherlands.

“The Group has invested billions of dollars over the past several decades in innovation and R&D and has successfully brought its technologies to market through advanced solutions, technology transfer and IP licensing,” said Joe Chernesky, senior Vice President, intellectual property and innovation at Kudelski. “The Group remains committed to protecting its substantial and ongoing investment in innovation for the benefit of the digital video ecosystem.”

Kudelski Group is best known in pay TV circles for its Nagra security division, which has expanded into multiscreen user experience software. The group has diversified further across the pay TV ecosystem, notably with the acquisition of OpenTV completed in March 2010, bringing a software portfolio embracing advanced program guides, personal video recording, interactive TV and addressable advertising.

Kudeslki is not the only company to file against Netflix for patents abuse. Rovi Corp filed a case in August 2012 claiming Netflix had infringed four patents relating to interactive program guides, but lost the first round of the case in June 2013 when trade Judge David Shaw stated that Netflix had not infringed Rovi patents.