AT&T Sued For Patent Infringement For Tracking Broadcasts And Providing Program Information

On Tuesday in the District of Maryland, plaintiff Global Interactive Media, Inc. (GIM) filed a complaint for patent infringement against defendants AT&T Services, Inc. and AT&T Communications, LLC (collectively AT&T) for the purportedly infringing the patent method to identify and track broadcasts and to provide program information to consumers.

The patents-in-suit are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,574,721 (the ’721 patent); 8,032,907 (the ’907 patent); and 6,314,577 (the ’577 patent), which “each claim methods and/or systems of tracking broadcasts and providing program information on demand to customers.”

GIM averred that AT&T infringed at least claim 1 of the ’721 patent “by identifying television broadcast providers based in response to a user’s submission of a geographic identifier such as a zip code.” Specifically, claim 1 states: “[a] method for identifying at least one broadcast provider [and broadcast identifier] through a combination of a geographic identification code and a broadcast identifier…digitally storing, in a database, one or more geographic identification codes that are each associated with at least one area or location in which a broadcast is receivable from at least one broadcast provider…”

The plaintiff claimed that AT&T’s U-verse Guide identifies local broadcast providers by zip code and station call letters, a “geographic identification code” and “broadcast identifier,” respectively. GIM asserted that the infringing U-verse Guide stores numerous zip codes that are “each associated with the cities serviced by the website” and “multiple station call letters that were each associated with a broadcast provider.” According to GIM, AT&T’s U-verse Guide receives the zip codes that users input and it also receives a user-related broadcast identifier when a user selects a television program category that the user wants to find a broadcast provider for.

Lastly, the patented claim asserts “determining, by a processor, a subset of data from the database using the…geographic identification code, the subset of data comprising… the stored… broadcast identifiers that are associated with… the stored…geographic identification codes that corresponds to the…user related geographic identification code.” In particular, the plaintiff contended that AT&T’s U-verse Guide “determined by processor, using the user’s ZIP code, a subset of data comprising stored broadcast identifiers (e.g., Fox) associated with broadcast television programs broadcast by the broadcasters within the user’s service area.” Consequently, GIM proffered that AT&T infringed the ’721 patent by allegedly using the patented method described in the ’721 patent.

While the first patent-in-suit details identifying available broadcasts in a certain geographic area, the remaining patents-in-suit describe providing recipients with automated broadcast program material information and for providing radio or television broadcast audience with automated program material information. Thus, the user is able to obtain certain information about a program, such as name and description of a broadcast program.

The plaintiff has sought declaratory judgment in its favor, pre- and post-judgment interest, an award for royalties, and other relief. GIM is represented by Butzel Long, PC.