TiVo Apparently Considering Patent Trolling As A Second Act

from the putting-the-bull-to-good-use dept

It's been said that the only thing patents encourage is more patents, and you can argue that ridiculous valuations seen on patents these days, combined with the ability to monetize them without doing a damn thing, has more and more companies seeming to be considering if there's more value in just focusing on their patents. While the Motorola Mobility purchase by Google seems to have woken up the mainstream press to the problems of the patent system, for big companies, who haven't been doing much innovating lately, suddenly there's a temptation to focus more money on investing in their patents, rather than on investing in actual innovation. There's been a lot of speculation that Kodak is now focusing on auctioning off its patents, since the company believes they may be worth much more than the rest of the company. There are rumors of RIM selling its big patent portfolio as well.

And it's hitting other areas. TiVo, which has been involved in a few patent lawsuits, mentioned during its earnings call that it's paying close attention to the "evolution" of the "patent world," and that the company plans to "get the most out of this portfolio."

You have to wonder if the company still owns the bull that it bought in Marshall, Texas.

Either way, it really is a sad statement. All these companies (mostly once big companies who have failed to stay on top) now seem a lot more focused on "maximizing the value of our patent portfolio." You can understand why they want to do this in the short term, but it shows the screwed up incentives of the system. It's not the innovation that's valuable. It's the patents that usually have little to do with the actual innovation that have become valuable. So these companies start spending all their resources on patent issues, rather than actual innovation. It's the exact opposite of how the system is supposed to work.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 3:54pm

    Does anyone actually still use TiVo? If they are still using it, is it because they are still under some contract.

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Zot-Sindi, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 4:03pm

    it's the exact opposite of how the system is supposed to work.


    i concur, of course they say it's *supposed* to do this and that but anyone who really looks at it can see it was intended to do the exact opposite of what it claims to be for

    or it wouldn't be doing that currently, just like with copyright

    when you design a monopoly guess what it's going to do, it's going to be a monopoly, of course, and people are going to focus on the monopoly aspect of it, not the make-believe lies they try to butter it up with

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    crispybacon, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 4:47pm

    The inevitable conclusion...

    ... is masses of companies creating and filing patents and none of them creating products. They'll all be waiting for someone else to blink and try and sell something, then the colony of lawyers will come swooping in.

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 4:50pm

    The patent bubble,
    a burst coming soon
    to a market near you.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 5:22pm

    Of course companies are going to take a closer look at their portfolios of patents, just like they take close looks at all of their assets.

    What goes unsaid, however, is that those parts of portfolios that may be offered for sale almost invariably relate to what are no longer core business interests (even big companies adapt and move into new areas of business).

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 5:31pm

    TIVO a company which uses GNU/Linux has patents?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 5:57pm

    To clean this up, needs an over-arching dis-incentive.

    Back to the 90 percent income tax rates of the abounding 50's. Back to engineering, back to good solid blue-collar construction, not lawyering, not weenie MBAs who know only abstract widgets.

    Can improve it further by even higher rates on "unearned" income, that most illuminating phrase that identifies labor as the source of wealth.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Mr Big Content, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 6:47pm

    Natural Evolution Of Our Society

    This is all part of the inevitable progression to the next stage of civilization. From our hunter-gatherer beginnings we invented agriculture, and then industrialization. Then with post-industrialization we had the service economy. So the next stage is the economy becoming purely Intellectual, with the ultimate abstraction of Intellectual Property being valued more highly than mere things.

    Think of it as transcending our material limitations, to become creatures of pure thought, even as the rest of the world struggles to catch up to mere levels of industrialization that we left behind decades ago. This is what keeps us at the forefront of Civilization, the natural, perennial innovation leaders for the planet.

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 6:55pm

    Re:

    Of course they do, since no American company can compete with their Asian counterparts they invariably sell themselves up to them and Asia ends up holding which inevitably gives all control over what gets or not produced in the American homeland to others.

    Now that is funny.

    IP law the leash that will end American manufacturing capabilities.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 7:16pm

    Re: Natural Evolution Of Our Society

    What's funny is that some people actually believe crap like this.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 7:46pm

    Re: Natural Evolution Of Our Society

    "with the ultimate abstraction of Intellectual Property being valued more highly than mere things."

    Thoughts without implementation have no value.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 7:46pm

    Re: Natural Evolution Of Our Society

    We won't need bodies anymore because feeding them would be a drain that our new economy of pure imagination won't be able to afford.

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    JEDIDIAH, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 8:17pm

    Where have you been?

    Oh yeah. They sue everyone else that dares to make/sell competing products. As if the cable card nonsense wasn't enough to kill diversity in the market.

    cat /dev/video0 > tivo-sucks.mpg &
    mplayer some-other-recording.mpg

    Just isn't that patent worthy.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    darryl, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 4:26am

    Kodak is now focusing

    Is that a little Mike joke ??????

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    darryl, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 4:29am

    Re: yes so does Google..

    and everyone else that innovates or pays for someone else to innovate for them.

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    whisk33, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 5:11am

    Re: Re: Natural Evolution Of Our Society

    this sounds like it should be a hipster cat meme...

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    staff, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 7:11am

    another biased article

    “Patent troll”

    Call it what you will...patent hoarder, patent troll, non-practicing entity, etc. It all means one thing: “we’re using your invention and we’re not going to pay”. This is just dissembling by large infringers to kill any inventor support system. It is purely about legalizing theft.

    Prior to eBay v Mercexchange, small entities had a viable chance at commercializing their inventions. If the defendant was found guilty, an injunction was most always issued. Then the inventor small entity could enjoy the exclusive use of his invention in commercializing it. Unfortunately, injunctions are often no longer available to small entity inventors because of the Supreme Court decision so we have no fair chance to compete with much larger entities who are now free to use our inventions. Essentially, large infringers now have your gun and all the bullets. Worse yet, inability to commercialize means those same small entities will not be hiring new employees to roll out their products and services. And now some of those same parties who killed injunctions for small entities and thus blocked their chance at commercializing now complain that small entity inventors are not commercializing. They created the problem and now they want to blame small entities for it. What dissembling! If you don’t like this state of affairs (your unemployment is running out), tell your Congress member. Then maybe we can get some sense back in the patent system with injunctions fully enforceable on all infringers by all inventors, large and small.

    For the truth about trolls, please see http://truereform.piausa.org/default.html#pt.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 8:17am

    Re:

    Yes. TiVo is one of the few software companies that truly did unique things when they got their patents. Nobody was recording TV on a hard drive back then except them and ReplayTV, and both had a number of unique and novel implementations.

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 8:19am

    Re: Where have you been?

    Now. But then, watching the beginning while still recording the end had truly never been done. By anyone.

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re: yes so does Google..

    ID Software? Better do yer homework.

    Carmack is the man!

     

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

  21.  
    icon
    Mike42 (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 9:01am

    Re: To clean this up, needs an over-arching dis-incentive.

    Holy Cow! I totally agree with out_of_the_blue!

    You're very right. If this doesn't happen, our nation is likely to fail.

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 9:06am

    Re: Where have you been?

    Now. But then, watching the beginning while still recording the end had truly never been done. By anyone.

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Steve, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 11:11am

    Re:

    TiVo has increased sales, which rose 19 percent to $61.2 million, by selling directly to cable operators and satellite providers. The company enrolled 10,000 new subscribers in the quarter, compared with a loss of 77,000 users a year earlier. Suddenlink Communications, RCN Corp., and U.K.-based Virgin Media Inc. (VMED) have begun offering TiVo products to customers.
    TiVo has also started manufacturing high-definition set-top boxes for DirecTV (DTV), the largest U.S. satellite-TV provider, which could accelerate TiVo’s customer acquisitions by the end of the year, Chief Executive Officer Tom Rogers said in an interview

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    ryan, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 1:03am

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Aug 30th, 2011 @ 3:54pm

    Love tick I have three

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    ryan, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 1:03am

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Aug 30th, 2011 @ 3:54pm

    Love Tivo I have three

     

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

  26.  
    icon
    techflaws.org (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 2:52am

    Re: Re:

    None of which where obvious to someone skilled and the arts (at not even to those not skilled).

     

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

  27.  
    icon
    dullgeek (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 8:19am

    Still using TiVo

    Yes. I still use TiVo. I love it. It is (afaik) the only DVR available that works with an OTA antenna. It's a great solution for cutting the cord. Netflix streaming + OTA antenna DVR is a pretty good way to get almost all of the video entertainment that I want.

     

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

  28.  
    icon
    dullgeek (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 8:23am

    Re: Still using TiVo

    Yes. I still use TiVo. I love it. It is (afaik) the only DVR available that works with an OTA antenna. It's a great solution for cutting the cord. Netflix streaming + OTA antenna DVR is a pretty good way to get almost all of the video entertainment that I want.

    And no, I am not under contract with TiVo. I did, however, purchase a lifetime subscription for the TiVo that I have. Which is another way of saying that for the current hardware I own, I have no current or future financial obligation to TiVo.

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 5:54pm

    Re: Re: Natural Evolution Of Our Society

    Really? Philosophy has no value? Pure math has no value?

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    patent litigation, Sep 5th, 2011 @ 1:56pm

    not necessarily so

    I don't agree that patent enforcement is limited to "once big companies who have failed to stay on top." Look at Apple, for instance -- it's innovated at the same time that it's focused on amassing and asserting a strong patent portfolio. Patent enforcement makes good business sense; it's not limited to losers and trolls.

     

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


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