A few months back, TiVo won a super fast decision against EchoStar in their patent lawsuit, claiming that EchoStar's DISH DVR service infringed on their patents. Today, the judge granted an injunction against EchoStar, saying they needed to disable those DVRs. This comes just a few months after the Supreme Court noted that injunctions should only be used in specific cases where there's real harm to the patent owner to allow the sales of the competing devices to continue. In this case, that's quite difficult to show, considering that TiVo didn't even bother to sue EchoStar for many years after DISH was offering their DVR. Even worse, this court (which is notorious for quickly siding with patent owners) has said EchoStar can't even wait on the injunction until an appeal is heard -- something the appeals court has already said is ridiculous, allowing the injunction to be stayed. However, having the lower court claim that it can't be stayed is ridiculous. Allowing injunctions to be stayed until appeal is pretty standard, and makes sense. If it turns out that the case is overturned on appeal, then the injunction could do plenty of harm to EchoStar in the meantime -- mostly by pissing off a ton of customers who have been happily using the DVR for years. This is one of the big problems with injunctions in patent cases like this one. If the company has been found to infringe -- and the appeals have been exhausted, then the patent holder can be made whole via a fine. If DISH had been forced to turn off their DVRs in the middle of the process, it would have forced EchoStar's hand without allowing them to exhaust their legal process to show why they're not infringing. They almost certainly would have been forced to settle with TiVo to keep their DVRs working -- even if they didn't believe they infringed, and when they believe they're likely to be vindicated. It's a perfect example of why kneejerk injunctions are actually bad for consumers and bad for innovation.
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