Monday, April 25, 2011

Walker Digital v. Apple: '505 TV-Sync App Complaint

On April 22, 2011, Walker Digital, LLC filed another patent infringement suit against Apple, Inc. in the District of Delaware.  The asserted patent in this case is:

"U.S. Patent No. 6,263,505 (“the ’505 patent”), entitled “System and Method for Supplying Supplemental Information for Video Programs” to Jay S. Walker, James A. Jorasch, Robert R. Lech and Thomas M. Sparico, who assigned their rights and interests in the ’505 patent to Walker Digital."

Defendants include Apple, Digimarc Corporation, The Nielsen Company, The Walt Disney Company, The Weather Channel, and TVaura Mobile LLC.

Regarding Apple, the Complaint asserts:

Upon information and belief, Defendant Apple is infringing (literally and/or under the doctrine of equivalents) the ’505 patent in this District and throughout the United States by, among other things, using, an iPad with installed application that is covered by, without limitation, claim 7 of the ’505 patent. By way of example and without limitation, Defendant uses an iPad with installed application, such as “From the Edge” or “ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy Sync,” to receive a request from a viewer for supplemental information related to a video program (such as photos, behind the scenes video and/or character information), receive synchronization information relating to the video program, process the request for the supplemental information, and transmit the synchronized supplemental information using the synchronization information.

It seems clear that the iPad by itself would not infringe.  The accused Grey's Anatomy Sync app uses audio from the television program to provide synchronized information on the iPad.  The app is published by ABC Digital, which would explain the inclusion of The Walt Disney company as a defendant.

Screen shot 2011 04 25 at 11 18 57 AM

App Store screen shot of "Grey's Anatomy Sync" app.

The "From the Edge" app appears to use the same app framework and is provided by co-defendant The Weather Channel.

Screen shot 2011 04 25 at 11 25 56 AM

App Store screen shot of the "From the Edge" app.

TVaura LLC and TVaura Mobile LLC are joint ventures between Nielsen and Digimarc, the other defendants.

It is notable that both of the apps are free downloads.  It would be fascinating to see Walker Digital's business case for filing this suit, especially the modeling of expected damages that would justify the expense.


Claim 7, for reference:

7. A method for providing supplemental information using a data processing apparatus including a CPU and a storage device operatively connected to the CPU and containing a program adapted to be executed by the CPU for processing a request for the supplemental information related to a video program and providing the requested supplemental information, said method comprising the steps of:

receiving a request for the supplemental information related to the video program;

receiving synchronization information related to the video program;

processing the request for the supplemental information by having the CPU in the data processing apparatus execute the program;

synchronizing the requested supplemental information to the video program using the synchronization information; and

transmitting the requested supplemental information.


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