Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Rovi's patent position: not so bad after all

Patent portfolios:
management is no picnic
Yesterday's Aistemos blogpost, here, discussed the fall in Rovi's share price in the wake of that company's commencing patent infringement proceedings against target licensee Comcast.  Today, with the aid of Cipher, we take a look at Rovi's patent health right now.

The first table, below, gives some idea of the extent to which Rovi actually litigates its extensive 1,500-family patent portfolio. It shows both that, over the past decade, Rovi has more often been required to defend itself against others than to enforce its own patents, and that there appears to be a trend towards a decline in the number of actions in which Rovi is involved.  Against this, the number of actions each year is small, which suggests that not too much should be read into the fact that litigations are fewer now than they were a couple of years ago.

The second figure reflects the relative patent portfolio sizes of Rovi and Comcast.  The data here is confined to Rovi's patented and pending patent families in 2016.  It demonstrates graphically that Comcast's own patent portfolio, which is by no means trivial, is dwarfed by that of Rovi. As an aside, it is by no means inconceivable that Rovi could aim more of its patents at Comcast than those already invoked, if push came to shove.
The third figure, below, gives a picture of Rovi's offensive patent litigation,  Overall, Rovi rarely loses as plaintiff and has a record of settling the disputes it starts fairly quickly. All of this suggests that the outcome of the dispute with Comcast is likely to be relatively favourable to Rovi and, bearing in mind what we said yesterday about its impact on Rovi's business, there is no outcome that is likely to have seismic consequences for the company.

A brief snapshot of Rovi's position cannot reflect the entirety of the company's commercial health and its future prospects. What is can do, however, is to suggest that its patent position is not so weak as to merit the stock price slippage that followed from nothing more sinister than the need to initiate patent infringement proceedings in the course of patent licence negotiations.

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