Invidi Files Patent Infringement Suit Against Visible World, Cablevision

Invidi Technologies Corp. filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Visible World and Cablevision Systems Corp., igniting a legal battle between two of the cable industry's leading advanced advertising technology vendors. 

In the suit, filed in a Delaware U.S. District Court on May 5, Invidi accuses Visible World and Cablevision of infringing on a patent it owns (U.S. Patent 5,661,516) for a "system and method for selectively distributing commercial messages over a communications network." 

Cablevision is the first major cable MSOs to use targeted, or addressable advertising technology to deliver ads to subscribers based on geographic and demographic factors. It can use Visible World's "Connect" platform to allow an automobile manufacturer to simultaneously deliver an ad for a minivan to neighborhoods with families and a spot for a sports car to an area populated by young professionals. 

While Cablevision has been delivering addressable advertising for more than two years, it wasn't until late last year that it began running campaigns across its entire New York metropolitan area footprint. 

In March, less than two months before the Invidi suit was filed, Cablevision announced that it ran a major addressable ad campaign during the fourth quarter of 2010 involving five different advertiser brands from clients of GroupM. Cablevision said that it pulled off the simultaneous delivery of ads from five brands sharing a single 30-second spot across nearly 3 million households. The MSO said the campaign "marked the first household TV addressable campaign to utilize the system's full footprint."

Invidi discusses Visible World's "Connect" and "Conductor" addressable advertising products in the complaint, and notes that the firm supplies addressable advertising to at least 3 million Cablevision homes. Cablevision has partnered with Experian to provide demographic data for its addressable advertising campaigns, Invidi says in the complaint. 

While the GroupM campaign may have been Cablevision's largest addressable advertising effort, the MSO said in March that it had previously executed more than a dozen addressable campaigns involving major brand marketers and their agencies. 

In November 2009, Cablevision EVP of advanced platform sales Barry Frey told attendees at an industry conference that Cablevision was relying on public geographic and demographic data for its targeted ad campaigns. "We're sending different messages right to the relevant household, and we're using a lot of methods similar to what direct marketing has used," Frey said. 

Invidi claims in the lawsuit that it will suffer "irreparable injury" from the infringement that it has alleged, and it asks the court to award unspecified damages. 

Cablevision declined to comment on the Invidi suit. Visible World didn't respond to a request for comment. 

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