Hulu Wins for Streaming Services

By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 07, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A federal appeals court pressed rewind for Hulu and other streaming companies, which means the shows will go on.

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board had ruled against the companies last year over a technology for users to transfer streaming sessions from one device to another. The board found in favor of a research firm that had sued the companies for infringing on its patent to the technology.

But in CRFD Research, Inc. v. Matal, the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals reversed.


CRFD Research, owned by Marathon Patent Group, sued Hulu, Netflix, and Spotify in 2014 for infringement of patent number 7,191,233. Hulu then challenged the patent claims, but the appeals board rejected the challenge.

Circuit Judge Kathleen O'Malley, writing for the court, said the appeals board erred in how it analyzed "obviousness" and "anticipation." The board said the streaming services did not show the claims were obvious under a prior "Bates" patent number 6962901, which describes a system for sharing "browser information between at least two browser applications."

However, O'Malley said the board did not go far enough in considering claims that could be anticipated later.

"Whatever the merits of the board's determination that Bates does not anticipate the '233 patent's transmitting session history limitation, its findings on anticipation are insufficient as a matter of law to decide the obviousness inquiry," she wrote.


The appellate judges said the patent claims were obvious. The court reversed the board's determination and awarded costs to Hulu.

Reporting on the decision, World Intellectual Property Review said the decision also gives Netflix and Spotify some hope.

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