German Court Rules Against Apple On OpenTV Patent

DUESSELDORF, GERMANY—Apple may be forced to remove some of its video streaming features for its products in Germany after a German district court ruled the company violated patents held by Swiss security company Kudelski’s OpenTV. This ruling, which was reported by Reuters, could affect Apple products like the iPhone, iPad, Mac computers, iTunes, Quicktime and Apple TV.

Apple Store in Munich

The ruling was passed down on Tuesday by a three-judge panel at a Dusseldorf district court and stated that Apple must not supply software that infringes on OpenTV’s patent that covers the mixing of video, audio and online information in a single video stream. “The claim is predominantly valid and well-founded,” explained the Dusseldorf court in its ruling.

The patent in question is entitled “An Integrated Interactive Video and Internet System” and was filed in 1997 by ACTV Inc., which was later acquired by OpenTV. Kudelski subsequently acquired OpenTV in 2010 and initiated the German case in 2014. OpenTV has filed a similar case against Apple in the U.S. That case is still outstanding.

This is not the only patent infringement case that Kudelski/OpenTV has filed in recent years. Since 2012 OpenTV has filed patent lawsuits against Netflix and Verizon. OpenTV also previously filed patent lawsuits against Disney, which was settled in 2004, and in 2002 with Liberate Technologies.

In the case of Apple, this ruling could require the company to come to a licensing deal from Kudelski. However, Apple could also comply by removing or disabling the infringing features from its video streaming products. Another option would be Apple being forced to remove the products from the market.

If it fails to comply, Apple could face fines up to 250,000 euros per infringement; the ruling did not specify the potential total amount of penalties. Apple can apply to appeal to the regional appeals court for a stay of enforcement, but there has been no comment by the company as of yet if it will do so. Reuters reports that Apple did file to have OpenTV’s patent invalidated in the Federal Patent Court in Munich, but the Dusseldorf court stated in the ruling that patent challenge would not succeed.