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Hulu accused of infringing on program guide patents

Lawsuit by Rovi, a provider of digital home-entertainment products, adds to the online video service's woes.

Hulu got more bad news late last week in the form of a patent infringement lawsuit.

Rovi Technologies, a provider of digital home-entertainment products, accused the online video service of infringing on three of its patents related to online TV program guides and search products in a lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court of Delaware. Rovi, which was formed after Macrovision's acquisition of Gemstar-TV Guide International in 2008, seeks compensation for the alleged infringement as well as attorneys' costs and related fees.

Rovi, which licenses its patents to Apple, Microsoft, Comcast, and DirecTV, said in the lawsuit it initiated discussions with Hulu regarding the patents in 2008 but has been unable to sign Hulu to a patent license.

"Hulu's infringement presents significant and ongoing damages to Rovi's business," the company said in the filing.

Hulu representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The filing comes just two days after Fox Network announced it would begin delaying Web access to many of its popular TV shows from sites such as Hulu to give cable and satellite TV providers greater exclusivity with programming. Fox's de facto pay wall means that fans used to seeing their favorite Fox programs online the day after they air on the network will now have to wait eight days to see episodes of "The Simpsons," "Bones," and "Glee."

Earlier this year Hulu put itself up for sale. Hulu, which is owned jointly by Fox parent News Corp., Walt Disney, Comcast, and equity firm Providence Equity Partners, has reportedly garnered interest from a slew of companies, including Apple, Google, Amazon, and Yahoo.