Verizon Figures If It's Already Involved In A Patent Lawsuit With TiVo, Why Not Sue Cablevision For Its DVR Too

from the patent-wars dept

Ah, the patent wars. As you’re probably aware, TiVo spent years fighting a big legal battle with EchoStar/Dish Networks over some patents on DVR technology. TiVo won big, and then immediately turned its patent lawyers on some other companies including Verizon. In Verizon’s response to TiVo’s lawsuit, it went nuclear back, accusing TiVo of violating Verizon’s patents on DVR technology — including a patent that the world’s biggest patent hoarding firm, Intellectual Ventures, gave Verizon for the purpose of being used against TiVo.

So is it any surprise to hear via Broadband Reports that Verizon is now suing Cablevision, claiming patent infringement on its set top box/DVR offerings as well? Cablevision and Verizon have had a really nasty battle going for years on Long Island, with all sorts of dirty tricks being played by both sides. But patent infringement? Given the odd timing of this lawsuit coming so quickly on the heels of the counterclaims against TiVo, you have to wonder if Verizon “woke up” to the fact that it could use these patents against Cablevision, only after provoked by TiVo.

Indeed, if you look down the list of patents in the Verizon Cablevision spat, you’ll see that there’s some overlap with those found in the TiVo suit:

  • 5,666,293: Downloading operating system software through a broadcast channel

  • 5,635,979: Dynamically programmable digital entertainment terminal using downloaded software to control broadband data operations
  • 5,608,447: Full service network

  • 6,367,078: Electronic program-guide system with sideways-surfing capability
  • 7,561,214: Two-dimensional navigation of multiplexed channels in a digital video distribution system
  • 6,055,077: Multimedia distribution system using fiber optic lines
  • 5,864,415: Fiber optic network with wavelength-division-multiplexed transmission to customer premises
  • 6,381,748: Apparatus and methods for network access using a set-top box and television

The three in bold are found in both lawsuits. Now, to be fair, before looking at the details, I was guessing that Verizon would also be using the patent it got from IV, but that patent (5,410,344) appears to be the one patent that Verizon is asserting against TiVo, but not against Cablevision. I have no idea if this is because nothing Cablevision does is covered by that patent, or if Verizon has limitations on what it can do with the IV patent. Still, given the overlap here, the timing, and the fact that many of these patents are pretty old, you really have to wonder if the lawsuit from TiVo and the scouring of patents for a countersuit also gave Verizon the idea to sue its arch-nemesis in the Long Island market over the same issues.

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Companies: cablevision, intellectual ventures, tivo, verizon

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Comments on “Verizon Figures If It's Already Involved In A Patent Lawsuit With TiVo, Why Not Sue Cablevision For Its DVR Too”

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15 Comments
Richard Corsale (user link) says:

@s about right

It’s so unbelievable that were still seeing this foolishness in 2010. I seriously thought that in the late 90’s Congress would have realized how out of hand this whole “everything is IP” mentality had gotten. Instead of reeling in outrageous entitlements, the powers that be intend to push them on all nations of the world. It’s a damn shame. With the economy being what it is, people are suffering all over the world and if theres anything we could do to help promote progress, it’s not taking place in a courtroom, of that, I am sure. To anyone that says “defend your IP at all costs” please explain to me how using a patent to retaliate is defending innovation.

tigger says:

Re: @s about right

1. Forcing additional design by motivating design-around.
2. Creating a market for individual inventors who can sell their patent to IV as defensive patents.
3. You think Apple would really spend as much time coming up with nifty design if HTC could simply steal their ideas?
4. A few ugly suits do not a bad system make. Have some scope.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: @s about right

“1. Forcing additional design by motivating design-around.”

In other words, forcing people to use a worse design because someone has a monopoly on the best design (and if there is a better design, someone is free to make that better design without the need for a competitor to have a patent).

“2. Creating a market for individual inventors who can sell their patent to IV as defensive patents.”

Taking away the market from individual inventors who can improve on a previous invention and receive a first mover advantage. Taking away incentive for inventors with monopoly power to invent because they already own the market by law.

“3. You think Apple would really spend as much time coming up with nifty design if HTC could simply steal their ideas?”

If not Apple, someone else.

“4. A few ugly suits do not a bad system make. Have some scope.”

The whole system is ugly, not just because of the few lawsuits we mention here on techdirt.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wow. So it seems IV exists as an broker of IP, and provide, on a consignment basis, IP for the purposes of litigation between companies that pay the entry fee, and partner with it.

It’s just the business model Thomas Jefferson envisioned when he created the USPTO. Too bad it only took 200 years for someone to figure it out!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Wow. So it seems IV exists as an broker of IP, and provide, on a consignment basis, IP for the purposes of litigation between companies that pay the entry fee, and partner with it. “

Yeah, way to promote the progress. I just don’t see how this is constitutional. The constitution clearly says that IP should be to promote the progress. But corporations pick and choose which parts of the constitution serve their agenda and ignore the rest.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Telecom-Cable Industries Especially Brutal

These guys flat out refuse to license inventions from smaller entities. Their approach to to take what they want and then try to litigate inventors into submission.

The only reason that IV has been able to buy so many patents is that big companies leave those patents on the market. So there is some poetic justice in someone acquiring those patents and then kicking the tar out of the infringers.

Inventions are property and it is long past time that big companies have to respect those rights. If companies had been buying up rights IV would not have a business and once the dust settles IV will no longer be able to buy patents dirt cheap.

This is the essence of capitalism.

Ronald J. Riley,

I am speaking only on my own behalf.
Affiliations:
President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 8 pm EST.

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