Google Licenses Rovi’s Program Guide Patents For Its New Fiber TV Service

One of the main surprises of Google’s Fiber announcement in Kansas City last week was that the company also plans to provide its own TV service to the residents of its ‘fiberhoods.’ There are some issues with Google’s Fiber TV service, including the fact that it seems to be missing quite a bit of content, but it’s definitely looking to be a very competitive offering. To make all of this work, however, Google apparently needed to license a number of patents. As digital entertainment technology provider Rovi announced today, Google has signed a multi-year licensing agreement with the company that provides Google with a license to Rovi’s “interactive program guide patent portfolio for set-top boxes, as well as online and mobile platforms.”

‘Rovi’ may not be a household name, but the publicly traded company actually owns over 5,100 patents related to digital entertainment. Until 2009, Rovi was known under the name Macrovision, a company that quickly became infamous in the early 2000s because of its widely used DVD copy protection technology. Today, Rovi says, its focus is “on revolutionizing the digital entertainment landscape by delivering solutions that enable consumers to intuitively connect to new entertainment from many sources and locations.”

“Our agreement with Google continues the growth and relevance of our patent licensing program for not only traditional platforms, but also new media experiences across multiple screens,” said Samir Armaly, Rovi’s EVP, Worldwide Intellectual Property & Licensing in a canned statement today. “We are pleased that the relevance of our intellectual property in this space continues to be recognized by leading companies such as Google.”

Given the size of Rovi’s patent portfolio in this market, chances are that Google didn’t have much of a choice but to license Rovi’s patents for its Fiber set-top boxes. It’s not immediately clear if this deal also covers Google TV and other Google products. Today’s announcement focuses on Google Fiber but also mentions “online and mobile platforms.”