EchoStar Tries To Time-Shift TiVo Patent Injunction

from the without-appeal dept

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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Comments on “EchoStar Tries To Time-Shift TiVo Patent Injunction”

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14 Comments
Sanguine Dream says:

Haven't you noticed...

that when a patent related lawsuit comes out (they happen about as often as movie releases now) its usually many years after the defendant has been in business. I don’t know about you guys but if I patent a product and I find out about someone’s else’s product and I think it infringes on my copyright/trademark/whatever I’m gonna stop them before they get off the ground. Why? I don’t want to risk losing the lawsuit. For the most part the only reason a company would wait so long is that they want to try to settle for some ungodly amount of money and hopefully collect licensing fees. Greedy bitches. That’s why I really hated Netflix for trying to sue Blockbuster (I wonder how that’s going now) almost 2 years after Blockbuster Online was started.

Cameron Watters says:

Flipside of the coin

It’s also entirely possible that, if the infringer is the more financially stable/flush company, the infringer may be able to effectively neutralize the patentholder’s ability to gain legal rememdy simply by prolonging a court battle.

While it may not be true in this case, if the patentholder is SO materially damaged by the infringement that it leads to the holder’s going out of business, no fine will ever remedy it becuase they’ll run out of money before they can be awarded such a fine in court. Unfortunately, the courts don’t continue to press your case on your behalf if you run out of money/lawyers.

Jon Healey says:

injunction worthy?

IMHO, this is exactly the kind of patent infringement that *would* merit an injunction. TiVo offers a product based on its patent. Echostar used an infringing product to do the same thing TiVo does. TiVo’s goal here is to sell its technology and gain subscriber revenues — in other words, it’s not simply a patent-licensing shop whose ultimate goal is to negotiate a higher fee.

Sheesh says:

In another newswire, it states that TiVo has not sued before, because they were in talks to license their technology to Dish like they did with DirecTV. When those talks broke down and Dish started shipping their (allegedly) infringing product, TiVo need additional time to figure out its options.

Sheesh, talk about people who only are one-sided. Anti-Patent holder…. some of these suits are actually legitimate and not just sucking for undue monies.

fuzzi says:

Re: Tivo and Echostar...

I read in another post that the reason the judge implemented the injunction was due to Echostar’s “willful” violation of Tivo’s patent. As was noted, Tivo was in negotiations to license the patent to Echostar but Echostar decided to simply steal it.

So don’t go feeling all sorry for Echostar, they caused the problem now must deal with the consequences.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Tivo and Echostar...

I read in another post that the reason the judge implemented the injunction was due to Echostar’s “willful” violation of Tivo’s patent. As was noted, Tivo was in negotiations to license the patent to Echostar but Echostar decided to simply steal it.

Actually, the judge found the opposite. He found that it was not willful infringement, which is why he didn’t triple damages.

Frink says:

it goes both ways

There is also an ongoing patent infringement suit against TiVo filed by EchoStar. It will be a long time before any of this crap gets figured out and in the end only customers will suffer any substantial loss in the form of higher prices and/or loss of services. It’s just the same old patent game where companies fight over who gets to squeeze the most money out of the consumer.

markethag1 says:

Re: it goes both ways

Right. The Echostar against TiVo begins in February, 07, involving a different patent. I think it’s a case where the big guy thinks he can squeeze the little guy ’till he’s bone dry. Doesn’t look like it’ll happen this time. While Echostar convinced the court that the harm that it caused TiVo was not willful, it did borrow, use and hurt TiVo — for years. Why not license with TiVo? Echostar needs the money to develop its own DVR? Why not show a little humility and good will until things are worked out. Those things are beyond conception maybe.

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