Guess That Bull In Texas Was A Good Investment: EchoStar Agrees To Pay TiVo To Settle Patent Case

from the money-wasted dept

TiVo and EchoStar have been in a ridiculously long patent dispute over DVR patents that began years ago. TiVo won nearly all of the early rounds, but the tide turned a bit last year, though it looked like TiVo was going to get something out of this. Of course, all of this was happening while the Patent Office itself was expressing doubt about the patents in question.

The case is now over, with EchoStar agreeing to pay TiVo $500 million (significantly more than the initial jury award). Of course, some will use this to suggest EchoStar should have just paid up early on, and from a financial perspective, they’re probably correct. But, really, this once again shows the ridiculousness of the patent system. Many millions of dollars were wasted on this lawsuit, and then a final massive transfer payment is made. All of that money could have gone towards actually innovating and building better products. What a waste.

Of course, this also brings to a close one of the more bizarre side notes to this story. Back when the district court case was being tried in East Texas, TiVo paid $10,000 to buy an award-winning bull in Marshall, Texas… which it renamed TiVo. Pretty much everyone suggests this was a really cynical ploy to influence the jury. I’m curious what ever happened to the bull?

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Companies: echostar, tivo

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Comments on “Guess That Bull In Texas Was A Good Investment: EchoStar Agrees To Pay TiVo To Settle Patent Case”

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17 Comments
Mr. Smarta** says:

Something to consider...

So if aliens came down to Earth from some planet somewhere using technology they created but companies here on Earth patented, who sues whom??? Does that mean an advanced civilization from another planet can sue earthlings for all the patent infringment? If companies expect that in their case, then the aliens get to, also.

Patents, copyrights, trademarks… It’s all meaningless bulls*** anyway. Just another illusion to make people believe there’s a weapon constantly hanging over their heads ready to swing down and destroy them.

Share everything. And piss on those who try to stop us. We get stronger, while they get weaker.

DogBreath says:

As to what happened to "TiVo"...

I’m curious what ever happened to the bull?

It was eaten by the TiVo lawyer:

http://amlawdaily.typepad.com/amlawdaily/2009/06/new-ip-trial-strategy-10000-for-that-bull.html

Eastern Texas has plenty of livestock. And Marshall hosts an annual Farm City Week, which in March 2006 came just on the eve of the Tivo v. EchoStar trial. TiVo’s local counsel, Samuel Baxter of McKool Smith (no relation to this writer), told Elinson that TiVo executives wondered whether they could buy a cow at auction “because the people have been so nice to us here.”

As Elinson writes, Baxter did that and more. At Farm City’s main event, a livestock auction, the legendary Eastern District lawyer bid on a Grand Champion Steer and bought it for a record-breaking sum of $10,000. The steer was quickly christened TiVo. (According to the Recorder, the seller was a high school student from nearby Hallsville who kept the money for herself to use for college.)

Perhaps finding the pastures in Silicon Valley to be lacking, Elinson reports that TiVo execs offered to return their namesake steer to its original owner. She declined given the tight quarters of her college dorm room.

So where is TiVo the cow now? “We turn ’em into steaks and burgers,” Baxter told Elinson. So it seems that TiVo, the bovine version, ended up in Baxter’s belly.

Anonymous Coward says:

I figured steak, I didn’t care to check and see if it was a county fair or what. When you see business’s buy livestock at crazy prices (like $400 a chicken) at auctions it is usually for the prize winning animals a kid raised because it’s how alot of those kids get money for college. It is common practice for the livestock to get purchased and returned to the owner.

Peter Dow (profile) says:

Wasted $ ?

While saying that the $500M is wasted money and does not get applied to innovation, it’s probably not entirely accurate. Sure, a lot of the $ goes to the lawyers, and that’s not contributing to innovation, but whatever amount gets to TiVo might actually be spent on R&D.

However, I definitely agree with the overall idea — patents these days are a hindrance to innovation.

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