Rovi Corp’s moves to make money off its patents related to online TV guides are starting to look like an industry-wide campaign. In January, Rovi sued Amazon-owned IMDB.com, saying that IMDB was infringing five of its patents. Now, Rovi has sued Hulu, saying the popular video site also infringes its online guide patents.
The fact that Rovi is suing two big players in this space with quite different software systems suggests the company believes these online guide patents give it a wide-ranging right to royalty payments over online television guides. Rovi’s complaint says that the company already has license agreements in place with Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA), Microsoft and Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), according to Reuters (NYSE: TRI), which reported the suit earlier today.
These patents probably come from Rovi’s 2008 acquisition of Gemstar-TV Guide; that’s where it got the patents it’s using to go after IMDB, in any case. The Rovi v. Hulu complaint isn’t yet available through the federal courts database, but we’ll post it here once we get a copy.
Spokespeople for both Rovi and Hulu declined to comment on the new lawsuit, filed earlier today in Delaware federal court.
It’s probably not a coincidence that the lawsuit comes at a sensitive time for Hulu. The company is up for sale, and Reuters reports that a dozen different companies are in “preliminary sales talks”–including both Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT).