Invidi Technologies announced it has received a patent for selecting and delivering targeted ads.

The patent supports the company’s own addressable advertising system, which enables ad decisions to be made at individual set-top boxes based on information provided to the network by the devices. Though that example uses a set-top box, the company said the patent covers all consumer devices, not just STBs.

U.S. Patent 8,108,895 is titled "Content selection based on signaling from customer premises equipment in a broadcast network."

In Invidi’s approach, data from user devices remains anonymous and privacy-protected as it is delivered to an operator’s headend. The decision of which ad to deliver for viewing is made at the headend.

“After input from a number of user equipment devices, that information is tabulated, and the results are used to pick a subset of media assets, or TV commercials, to deliver based on targeting criteria,” explained Invidi CEO David Downey. “For instance, a large number of set-top boxes will send messages to the headend that say, ‘Here is a list of ads that are available to be shown to viewers right now.’ The headend takes all of these requests and makes a selection of one or more of a subset of the ads to send to all viewers based on targeting criteria.”

The patent contemplates networks where many people receive the same content, and because bandwidth may be limited, provides for a system that most efficiently utilizes available bandwidth to send ads to viewers.

Invidi believes that the addition of this patent to others in its patent portfolio provides some indemnification to customers who deploy Invidi’s targeted advertising system.

That may or may not be an oblique reference to a patent dispute between ActiveVideo and Verizon that Verizon lost. ActiveVideo provides interactive TV technology, supporting VOD and other interactive services, to Cablevision and other cable operators. After losing the suit, Verizon is obliged to re-engineer its FiOS service. Whether Invidi is referring to that action or not, the ActiveVideo-Verizon argument is an object lesson.

Downey said, "As part of our distribution and licensing deals, we license our patents and other intellectual property to our customers and technology partners. So they are able to leverage our investment in intellectual property and receive assurances and protections about our product, including how it may evolve over time. We don’t believe any other player in our space is able to offer such a powerful value proposition to our customers and the industry.”