TiVo's 'Big Win' Over Dish On Patents Looking Less And Less Solid, As Patent Office Rejects Patent Claims

from the oops dept

Early on TiVo had won pretty much of all of its patent battles with EchoStar over its DVR technology, perhaps helped along by a bit of bull buying in Texas. We had noted, however, that the USPTO had expressed concerns over the validity of the patents, and we wondered why the court case would move forward while the patents themselves might be rejected by the Patent Office. But, the case did go forward, and while TiVo initially won at the appeals court level (which made it so happy that it sued others and demanded ridiculous sums from EchoStar), things haven't been looking quite so good lately.

Last month, the appeals court vacated the earlier decision, and agreed to rehear the case. And, now, it turns out that the USPTO has rejected two patent claims that were a key part of this fight. Of course, as TiVo is quick to point out, this isn't the end of the review process, but it certainly raises serious questions about the validity of the patents TiVo is basing its whole strategy on.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Craig (profile), Jun 8th, 2010 @ 8:31pm

    Possible solution to all this garbage litigation

    1. Fire all lawyers save one. You'll need basic legal advice, after all.
    2. Use the money savings to hire engineers, artists, writers, thinkers, inventors et cetera and build awesome products and services that people clamor to consume.

    In a system that was designed and built by lawyers, is it any wonder that we see corporations chasing their own tails? Not unlike the banking industry, it's the insiders and those who are demonspawn of those institutions that make all the money.

    They have created the ultimate money machines -- and we pay the bills.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2010 @ 10:47pm

    A smile on mike's face

    It's a shame that Dish is against more customer friendly options, and is willing to settle for in-house developed software. A copy of someone else's work is always mediocre. Not offering alternative options could be considered anti-customer.

    But I read that Google bought up a startup that has a bunch of ex-TiVo developers a few weeks ago. So knowing this, a death of TiVo must make Mike happy, and give him a sort of perverted self-satisfaction.

     

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  3.  
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    Any Mouse, Jun 9th, 2010 @ 1:09am

    Re: A smile on mike's face

    How do you figure, sports fan? You know Mike so very, very well, tell us what he's thinking, why the death of TiVo MUST make Mike so happy? Because all I'm seeing here is someone trying to make Mikey out to be some kind of basement troll instead of any real facts.

     

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  4.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 2:11am

    Re: A smile on mike's face

    But I read that Google bought up a startup that has a bunch of ex-TiVo developers a few weeks ago. So knowing this, a death of TiVo must make Mike happy, and give him a sort of perverted self-satisfaction.

    Huh? Actually, I'm a fan of TiVo and hope they survive. I just don't want to see them abusing patent law to do so. I wish they had been smarter about their business model from the beginning, but they made their choices...

    Why would I want to root for the "death of TiVo"? That makes no sense...

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2010 @ 4:32am

    Re: Re: A smile on mike's face

    I can sympathize with Tivo though. They innovated when no one else did and then the incumbents created a guide that travels through the cable wire and gets picked up by the box that they sell (in opposed to needing to hook up a separate dialup or other connection, a huge inconvenience to anyone) and used our broken legal system to lock Tivo out of this guide (or make it impractical for them to implement), which is a very important feature (ie: knowing what's on and being able to conveniently record a show without manually choosing time frames to record). To some extent this is the kinda thing that patents are supposed to protect against and the fact that patents only seem to be used to protect incumbents (ie: existing cable companies), and not innovators, makes me more strongly oppose the patent system.

     

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  6.  
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    abc gum, Jun 9th, 2010 @ 5:24am

    Re: Re: Re: A smile on mike's face

    "this is the kinda thing that patents are supposed to protect against "

    - Wrong. And the Patent Office has rejected the claims.

    "patents only seem to be used to protect incumbents"

    - Wrong again. I don't think I need to cite the multitude of examples.

    "... and not innovators"

    - Software should not be subject to patent protection.

    - Seems that tivo has fallen into that chasm where competition is replaced by litigation.

     

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  7.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 7:25am

    Sorry they are going down, but it is their own pricing model that did them in

    I always wanted to get a Tivo. I still think they had one of the best devices out there, especially if you wanted to record from a variety of over-the-air and wired sources.

    I never bought one because I could never stomach their pricing model for services. Their monthly fees were excessive; the same information could be legally obtained for a few dollars a year. Furthermore, they were selling viewing and search data which made it a profit center for the company, even if they hadn't sold subscriptions.

    If they had charged more for the initial hardware and then had a low annual subscription fee I probably would have had a Tivo on every set in the house. As it was, the high monthly fee made me reluctant to buy even one.

    I think this is another case where a content provider over estimates the price people are pay for their information. It's not that the information isn't valuable, it comes down to what customers are willing to pay.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2010 @ 8:21am

    "And, now, it turns out that the USPTO has rejected two patent claims"

    Hold your nose...the PTO most always rejects claims. Then hold the phone...seldom does the patentee lose all claims and in some cases end up with more and better claims as you are allowed to add claims in reexam. This may come back to haunt the requestor and the industry.

     

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  9.  
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    FarmerBob (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 12:46pm

    With TiVo weak, Charlie who has done some smart things in the past, will snap up TiVo and Echostar will not have to use second-hand code. Then they'll have the Real McCoy and hopefully propagate a new and more mature and sophisticated GUI to all their gear. All the while, I always seen TiVo as the better interface and Echostar with better STB Technology and PQ. TiVo's PQ sucks.

     

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  10.  
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    holy smokes, Jun 9th, 2010 @ 6:48pm

    Re:

    "will snap up TiVo and Echostar will not have to use second-hand code. "

    - What, exactly, is "second hand code" ?

     

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  11.  
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    jakerome (profile), Jun 4th, 2012 @ 6:00am

    Patents were confirmed. Again.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/39482986/USPTO-s-Final-Examination-TiVo

    I think this will be the 3rd, 4th or 5th time the patents are challenged. So far all the software claims have been upheld, including in September 2010 review following Dish/Echostar's last challenge.

     

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  12.  
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    jakerome (profile), Jun 4th, 2012 @ 6:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: A smile on mike's face

    Just on the one point, about litigation replacing competition. Problem is, there was no real competition in set-top DVRs--- the monopoly cable provider would just pick a vendor, rarely choosing the best option. TiVo was, by all accounts, far superior to all other DVRs and only Windows HME was close through most of the 2000s. But the playing field wasn't level, not even close. Still isn't.

    I would've loved to have seen a real competition in DVRs without cable companies putting their thumb on the scales. There wasn't. There isn't.

    Monopoly made competition moot, and TiVo turned to litigation instead.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    jakerome (profile), Jun 4th, 2012 @ 6:10am

    Re: Patents were confirmed. Again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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