Southeast Texas Record

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

NFL Enterprises faces allegations of patent violations in federal court

By John Myers | May 8, 2017

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MARSHALL – Open TV has kicked off a series of intellectual property problems for NFL Enterprises (NFLE) after filing seven patent infringement complaints against the company.

On March 23, NFLE motioned to dismiss Opent TV's request for a jury trial on the grounds of improper jurisdiction; this request is still pending. These proceedings began on Jan. 12, when Open TV filed a complaint alleging that NFLE violated U.S. Patent Nos. 7,996,861; 7,421,729; 7,028,327; 7,950,033; 7,055,169; 7,020,888; and 6,233,736. 

In addition, the complaint states that NFLE has been aware of these violations since at least Nov. 30, 2015, when representatives of Open TV allegedly contacted their counterparts at NFLE to alert them to the problems.

As of April 19, no court date has been set for a jury trial, despite Open TV's request. 

The complaint requests the Eastern District of Texas as a venue, on the grounds that NFLE has allegedly committed acts causing complaint within that court's jurisdiction.

The alleged patent violations pertain to:

Patent 7,996,861 is a system to ensure that individuals have the necessary Personal Identification Number (PIN) to access protected content. In addition, it includes a security feature designed to protect the security of the PIN code using a security management application. The complaint alleges that NFLE has violated this patent in the use of its Watch NFL Network and NFL Redzone applications.

Patent 7,421,729 allows users to insert additional content or information into an existing video stream so that it can be guaranteed to be relevant to the content of the streaming media. This includes video tags with information such as upcoming video segments and the ability to connect the system to a Web page overlay. The complaint states that NFLE violated the patent using this technology in its NFL Game Pass application with its Big Play Markers.

Patent 7,028,327 creates a series of timing offsets that allow viewers of the digital media to control how they watch the content, including allowing them to suspend and resume the application at appropriate times. It also allows the distributor to limit when and how the viewer can suspend and control the application. The complaint alleges the NFLE is using this technology in the electronic program guide and synchronization features in the NFL Now portion of it website. 

Patent 7,950,033 is a technology that allows streaming video services to present additional information, such as summaries or highlights in a second window. The complaint alleges that NFLE is using the technology in its Big Play Marker time line feature. 

Patent 7,055,169 automatically detects if the user's system has the necessary computer-implemented resources to activate the digital streaming service. According to the allegations in the complaint NFLE is using this technology in its NFL Game Pass application, and its NFL Mobile application to ensure that the user has the necessary network functionality to run the streaming video applications. 

Patent 7,020,888 is a software solution that uses a specialized preprocessor, packager and multiplexor systems to broadcast data formats to combine audio, video and metadata data streams into a single broadcast stream. The complaint alleges that NFLE has leveraged this technology in its NFL Game Pass. 

Patent 6,233,736 allows users to view online information associated with existing content using a Web link. The complaint states that these technologies are being leveraged by NFLE's, NFL Now, NFL Mobile, the NFL App and the NFL Fantasy Football applications.

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National Football League