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EchoStar and Dish Network say they will appeal the verdict

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.



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Lawsuits
By bhieb on 6/3/2009 10:49:31 AM , Rating: 3
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.

My guess is they did not patent the "record to disk" concept, rather their auto record of similar programs. Tough break had they patented the whole concept they would at least be getting some license fees for this.

Leaves me torn. As a consumer I enjoy the low prices competition brings, but as an ex Tivo user the lower quality of the "in-house" units annoys me. Plus I'm a satellite users so Tivo is no longer an option since DirectTV makes their own now.




RE: Lawsuits
By munky on 6/3/2009 11:41:58 AM , Rating: 3
I can't find what the actual patent covers, but I can understand if Tivo patented a certain technology, and a specific method of implementing such technology. However, had they patented the whole concept of "TV recording and playback onto a hard disk" then that's just stupid IMO, and no one should be awarded patents for broad concepts such as this.


RE: Lawsuits
By Hyperion1400 on 6/3/2009 12:11:38 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly!

I could have sworn the whole purpose introducing patents was to protect a working model such as a design schematic, equation, program model, etc. It seems to me the "patent" Tivo is trying to protect is their idea for an automated TV show recording program.

Now, I could totally understand if Dish ripped off their program code. But, from everything I have read, Tivo is suing them because the stole their idea not their code. But, since I can't find to many details on this case, I'll leave it be for now.


RE: Lawsuits
By adiposity on 6/3/2009 6:51:37 PM , Rating: 2
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.


RE: Lawsuits
RE: Lawsuits
RE: Lawsuits
By Hyperion1400 on 6/4/2009 4:37:21 PM , Rating: 2
So basically, it's like if Karl Benz were to sue Henry Ford for using a boxer style ICE. Even though the specific designs are different, Benz still thinks he is getting ripped off because everyone "stole" his awesome idea.

Now I could totally understand if they were using the EXACT same design, but the fact that they use similar methods is complete bunk. Again, refer to the above argument.

For another car engine analogy, it WOULD be patent infringement if GM decided they didn't want to pay Mitsubishi royalties for using their 4G63 engine design(Yes, GM sucks so much at designing cars that they have to pay one of their competitors for engine designs). It is not infringement if they both decided to use boxer engines with different designs but still operated on the same principal.


RE: Lawsuits
By adiposity on 6/3/2009 6:55:44 PM , Rating: 2
If I remember correctly, the case partially rested on the fact that Dish was storing a "collection of objects of audio and video". That's not generic at all.

-Dan


RE: Lawsuits
By Mitch101 on 6/4/2009 12:22:24 PM , Rating: 2
I recall Tivo constantly says they are losing money. Because of that I am surprised some company like DirectTV or Hughes hasn't bought them for the patents. Then they could collect royalties on their competitors who infringe on the technology.

I can only guess that Tivo doesn't hold all the necessary patents to the DVR but they hold some important ones. Could explain why Direct TV bought Replay TV a long time ago.


RE: Lawsuits
By Darkk on 6/5/2009 12:26:48 AM , Rating: 2
I remember this patent lawsuit. The way they described it was Tivo uses a "Media Switch" technology.

Basically it's the way audio and video are being recorded and play back at the same time.

Amazing the way they came up with the name for it and managed to get a patent for it.


RE: Lawsuits
By BPB on 6/3/2009 1:40:57 PM , Rating: 3
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.
I use TiVo, and plan on continuing to use for quite a while. Until I can network somebody else's DVR I will use my TiVo. The best thing is I can record HD content and burn it or transfer it. Cable company DVR's have the ability to do it, but I know of none that allow it to be used. So I stick with TiVo. Plus, TiVo gives you YouTube and a lot more. I'll be surprised if they don't add Hulu at some point, or the new YouTube XL. Oh, and my TiVo has 1TB of storage. I don't know of any cable DVR that can do that, but please correct me on it if I'm wrong. Where I am Cox doesn't allow for external storage, and the onboard space is a joke.


RE: Lawsuits
By kittleson on 6/3/2009 3:56:22 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
who's gonna buy a Tivo when you can rent one very cheaply from your cable provider


Uh, me and quite a few other people. Tivo has more features, has a better guide, generally works better and more reliably, and if you consider a 3-4 year time period then for some people the total cost for Tivo is less that cable DVR rental. If you appreciate the extra features that Tivo offers and can afford to put down some cash up front in return for lower recurring costs, then I think Tivo is hands down the way to go. If all you want is low hassle and/or no up front costs, then a cable DVR is the way to go. Different strokes for different folks, but one size does not fit all.


RE: Lawsuits
By marvdmartian on 6/4/2009 10:51:05 AM , Rating: 2
I think the point he originally tried to make is that the "normal consumer" won't have the knowledge, or do the research, to find out which method is better, or cheaper in the long run. Instead, they'll sign up for the "cheap" cable company dvr, because $20/month (or whatever they cost) sounds so much cheaper!

Unlike folks that frequent this site, of which I'd guesstimate 80-90% would be willing to do their homework and figure out the best deal, your "normal consumer" isn't knowledgeable enough, or willing to do the research required. Unless they have a friend or relative that can talk them into the better deal, they'll simply go with the short term "savings".


RE: Lawsuits
By johnsonx on 6/3/2009 5:26:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Plus I'm a satellite users so Tivo is no longer an option since DirectTV makes their own now.


You'll be pleased to know that DirecTV and TiVo have an arrangement that will result in a new HD DirecTiVo sometime next year.


RE: Lawsuits
By Spuke on 6/3/2009 6:08:58 PM , Rating: 2
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.
Sweet!!! Count me in!!


RE: Lawsuits
By Richardito on 6/4/2009 12:09:03 AM , Rating: 1
Tivo's mistake was to outsource the units to be manufactured in China. Guess who started making the DVRs for the cable companies? The same company that was making them for Tivo. They sought that the software would be easy to program. It wasn't so, that's the reason for all of the buggy DVR software at the beginning.

I do not agree that getting a DVR from your cable company is cheaper. Have you taken a look at what they charge now for DVR service? And for "leasing" the equipment? Money wise they are almost at a leveled field right now.


RE: Lawsuits
By Entropy42 on 6/4/2009 11:06:22 AM , Rating: 2
I pay Comcast $10 per month for my HD DVR, and that includes the upgrade to HD that normally costs $6. There's no upfront cost to purchase the box either. No way Tivo competes with that price. At least it didn't 10 months ago.


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