Satellite TV has been putting a dent in the profits enjoyed by traditional cable TV companies by offering consumers more choices. Consumers around the country use Dish Network as an alternative to cable TV in their homes.
Along with satellite TV, DVRs are a very common item in homes around the country. One of the early DVR firms was TiVo. TiVo and EchoStar have been embroiled in a long-running patent infringement suit that alleges that Dish Network (formerly EchoStar) knowingly infringed on patents held by TiVo for DVR technologies.
A federal judge in Texas awarded TiVo nearly $190 million in damages yesterday in the long running dispute. Reuters reports that U.S. District Judge David Folsom ordered EchoStar to disable a feature in about 193,000 DVRs it has in use in homes around the country that was found to infringe TiVo patents.
Folson also found that a workaround EchoStar implemented to get around a previous patent dispute over DVR functionality on Dish Network receivers infringed upon TiVo patents. The court set a date of June 26 for an additional hearing on potential sanctions against EchoStar.
Judge Folsom granted TiVo a $73.9 million ruling plus $15.7 million in interest on patent infringement claims. TiVo was also awarded an additional $103.1 million in damages plus interest accumulated during the stay of the injunction.
Since a previous EchoStar workaround was found to infringe on TiVo patents, the court ordered that Dish Network must inform the court before it tries to implement another workaround for the patent it infringed.
TiVo issued a statement saying, "We are extremely gratified by the Court's well reasoned and thorough decision, in which it rejected EchoStar's attempted workaround claim regarding the TiVo patent, found EchoStar to be in contempt of court and ordered the permanent injunction fully enforced. In addition, the Court's award of an additional $103 million plus interest through April 2008 makes this victory all the more important. EchoStar may attempt to further delay this case but we are very pleased the Court has made it clear that there are major ramifications for continued infringement."
Dish and EchoStar say that the court's decision will be appealed and it will file a motion to stay the order with a federal appeals court.
quote: A multimedia time warping system. The invention allows the user to store selected television broadcast programs while the user is simultaneously watching or reviewing another program. A preferred embodiment of the invention accepts television (TV) input streams in a multitude of forms, for example, National Television Standards Committee (NTSC) or PAL broadcast, and digital forms such as Digital Satellite System (DSS), Digital Broadcast Services (DBS), or Advanced Television Standards Committee (ATSC). The TV streams are converted to an Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG) formatted stream for internal transfer and manipulation and are parsed and separated it into video and audio components. The components are stored in temporary buffers. Events are recorded that indicate the type of component that has been found, where it is located, and when it occurred. The program logic is notified that an event has occurred and the data is extracted from the buffers. The parser and event buffer decouple the CPU from having to parse the MPEG stream and from the real time nature of the data streams which allows for slower CPU and bus speeds and translate to lower system costs. The video and audio components are stored on a storage device and when the program is requested for display, the video and audio components are extracted from the storage device and reassembled into an MPEG stream which is sent to a decoder. The decoder converts the MPEG stream into TV output signals and delivers the TV output signals to a TV receiver. User control commands are accepted and sent through the system. These commands affect the flow of said MPEG stream and allow the user to view stored programs with at least the following functions: reverse, fast forward, play, pause, index, fast/slow reverse play, and fast/slow play.
quote: Normally I'm not a big patent lawsuit fan, but being an ex-Tivo user I can see their frustration. They were "it" back in the day. They pioneered it, and did reap the rewards for a while. However it was not long before every cable company in the country had a dvr that functioned very similar to the Tivo, and basically shut them down (who's gonna buy a Tivo when you can rent one very cheaply from your cable provider). Kind of sucks that they created this market and everyone else came along and took it rather easily.
quote: who's gonna buy a Tivo when you can rent one very cheaply from your cable provider
quote: Plus I'm a satellite users so Tivo is no longer an option since DirectTV makes their own now.
quote: You'll be pleased to know that DirecTV and TiVo have an arrangement that will result in a new HD DirecTiVo sometime next year.