Netflix wins Dutch patent suit, can keep operating as usual

It is a big win for Netflix, which faces similar patent claims in the US

European Netflix users, breathe easy: The video streaming service can keep operating as it always did now that Dutch patent lawsuit has been thrown out of court.

Netflix was sued in the District Court of the Hague in October last year by OpenTV, a U.S. company that makes software for digital TV services including video-on-demand, program guides and enhanced television applications.

Netflix also operates in other European countries, including France, Germany and Spain, but OpenTV is not suing there. A spokesman for OpenTV's parent company, Kudelski Group, declined to say whether the Dutch lawsuit was a test case for other European actions.

OpenTV alleged that Netflix infringed on several of its patents including one on a system for providing direct automated access to an online information services provider through an address embedded in a video or audio program.

It wanted the court to order Netflix to stop infringing, which could have had big consequences for Netflix as it would have meant the site would have had to stop providing service in the Netherlands, Netflix lawyer Bas Berghuis van Woortman said. OpenTV also demanded a share of the company's profits.

The court however threw out the suit on Wednesday, ruling that the patent is basically worthless. All allegedly infringed patent claims were found invalid because they are not inventive and not new.

It is a first big win for Netflix in its battle with OpenTV, which also filed a similar suit against the company with the U.S. District Court of Delaware in December 2012. That case was transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California earlier this year where it is still ongoing.

OpenTV was ordered to pay legal costs for Netflix of around €234.500 (US$292.000).

Netflix is not off the hook yet in the Netherlands though. The court in the Hague is still mulling a second case OpenTV brought against Netflix. A verdict date for that case was not yet determined, a court spokesman said.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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Tags internetlegalvideointellectual propertypatentnetflixInternet-based applications and servicesOpenTVKudelski Group

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