Nielsen has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against VideoAmp, alleging violation of two recently issued patents by one of its primary rivals in TV measurement. It’s the latest in an increasingly dense thicket of intellectual property litigation brought by the dominant player in the space.
Nielsen sues VideoAmp for patent infringement, the giant’s ninth such suit in three years
The lawsuit, filed Jan. 31 in federal court in Delaware, brings to nine the number of patent infringement cases Nielsen has filed since 2021 against now four competitors. Those include four suits against TVision and three against HyphaMetrics. Those companies provide panels that help VideoAmp and, in the case of TVision, iSpot.tv, calibrate data from set-top boxes and smart TVs.
Additionally, Nielsen filed a patent infringement suit in 2022 against ACRCloud, a provider TVision turned to for metadata after Nielsen’s Gracenote unit declined to renew its contract with TVision.
A VideoAmp spokesperson declined to comment on the litigation, which follows a pattern of Nielsen filing within weeks or sometimes days of receiving patent approvals from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patents in question were issued in late December 2023 and early January 2024 based on applications and amendments that go back to 2015.
Lengthy document—and processes
Nielsen’s complaint, with attachments numbering well over 500 pages, is a veritable encyclopedia of news clippings and industry research from recent years. It draws among other things from Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement research reports about the use of set-top box and ACR data and the NBCUniversal Measurement Framework Lookbook on competitors in TV measurement. It’s all to buttress Nielsen’s case that VideoAmp is infringing on its new patents for, among other areas, determining whether TV sets in measured households are on or off and estimating who within households is watching.
TVision, HyphaMetrics and ACRCloud all have disputed Nielsen’s prior patent lawsuits, none of which has yet prevailed. Such litigation generally can last three years or more, with trials in some of the cases tentatively scheduled to begin in 2025.
One of the patent lawsuits against TVision was dismissed last year. And TVision last week filed for a stay in another after an appellate board of the USPTO gave the green light for a review of the Nielsen patent in question.
The “inter partes review,” often used against so-called patent trolls, is a less expensive process than civil litigation. It generally concludes within a year and is granted based on the likelihood a challenge will prevail. But by filing patent lawsuits quickly, Nielsen can keep rivals tied up in court while the nine-month waiting period to initiate such a review plays out.
In an antitrust counterclaim filed late last year in the same case, TVision argued that Nielsen has been filing meritless patent litigation in an effort to drive it out of business. That counterclaim also alleges Nielsen has inserted clauses into new contracts with networks requiring them to pay extra to Nielsen should they want to use TVision attention data—a market segment where Nielsen doesn’t compete.
Nielsen in court filings countered that most of its patent litigation remains pending and has survived motions to dismiss. Nielsen also denied any anti-competitive activity, noting among other things that it can’t be subject to an antitrust violation for interfering with a TVision business where it doesn’t compete.