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TiVo vs EchoStar - TiVo Wins 256

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the set-top-battles dept.
ssuchter writes "A jury just ruled in favor of TiVo in their suit against EchoStar, awarding TiVo $73M of the $87M they asked for. From the article: 'TiVo had sought $87 million in damages from the Dish satellite-TV network in a patent dispute that TiVo lawyers said could be "life or death" for the company that sold the first box for pausing and rewinding live television.'"
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TiVo vs EchoStar - TiVo Wins

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 13, 2006 @08:07PM (#15126576)
    They had to rewatch the decision 7 times on their TiVo.
  • by Abreu (173023) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @08:11PM (#15126595)
    Good to hear an innovative company is able to have its patent respected...

    Bad thing is, the lifespan on a patent will probably make that what is right now good news, later becomes bad news
    • by Anonymous Coward
      That is not bad news at all. TiVo will make lots of money until the patents expire, but that is many years away. By then TiVo plans to be well entrenched in the household and be making money off of advertising, by redefining the way we watch TV ads (yes, we will still "watch" ads, but more like we "read" magazine ads or Google ads). The patent money is just a stepping stone towards TiVo's ultimate goal of being the Google of TV advertising.
  • Idiot Lawyer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MDMurphy (208495) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @08:11PM (#15126596)
    If EchoStar's lawyers argued the case with lines like:

      "I don't think 190,000 people would have bought this particular toy if they could have gotten it free from their cable company."

    no wonder they lost. I think that was TiVo's point, free boxes from the cable companies ( if you want to call subsidized by higher cable rates "free") cost Tivo sales.
    • Tivo has a current promotion in which you actually get the box for free.

      --

      On another note, while this is a victory, it is not that much. 73 million does not go a long way now, however, it will stave off the Tivo is dead people because now Tivo will have some operating cash flow (assuming they get it quickly; with appeals, maybe in the next five years).
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 13, 2006 @08:25PM (#15126643)
        You miss the point. First off, the jury ruled the infringement was knowingly done, ie, deliberate, so the judge could triple the damages awarded to TiVo.

        But it's not about one settlement from Dish/Echostar. TiVo will make much more money licensing its patents, and selling its software and services. Five years down the road and the money TiVo will be making in new business will make this award money look like chickenfeed. It's about getting TiVo's patents enforced, and getting cable companies and satellite companies to do business with TiVo. It's the legal decision that matters, not the size of the monetary award.
    • I think that was TiVo's point, free boxes from the cable companies ( if you want to call subsidized by higher cable rates "free") cost Tivo sales.

      That didn't save Netscape. EchoStar should have "integrated" the box into their service and called themselves "innovative".

    • Re:Idiot Lawyer (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jerf (17166) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @08:30PM (#15126659) Journal
      if you want to call subsidized by higher cable rates "free"

      I have a simple rule: s/free/paid-for/g, in all promotional material.

      Then you think about who is paying for it.

      Every once in a while, the answer won't be "you, the customer", and that's when you should jump if you're interested. But usually, it's you.
      • Reminds me of a story a teacher told me about two idiots that he overheard one day while he was in the military. They were all the gym on the base (he didn't know them) and the two men were talking about needing to buy a gym membership in town. The second man said he didn't want to pay for it, and the first guy said "Join the gym I did, it's free."

        "Really, it's FREE?" said the second guy?

        The first guy responded "Yeah. You just pay them $25 on the first day of the month, and it's free the rest of the days

  • Great win for Intellectual Property rights, now the public will have more expensive PVR's.

    Shame there always has to be a trade off :(
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 13, 2006 @08:39PM (#15126693)
      Trust me, the cable DVRs were never really "free". You were paying for it somewhere in your cable bill, anyway. Now, all that will change is maybe a few bucks will go to TiVo, Inc., instead of into the pockets of the cable companies. I doubt anyone will notice the change.

      What is a big plus is that the chances are greatly increased that cable subsribers will have the option of using the vastly superior TiVo software on their cable DVRs (as will soon be the case for some Comcast subscribers), rather than the slapdash piece of crap DVR software that is currently offered to cable subscribers because the cable companies know the customer don't have any choice and don't know what they are missing. That will change, thanks to this legal decision.
  • by PeeCee (678651)
    FATALITY!
  • by nsafreak (523874) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @08:32PM (#15126669)
    Well Tivo did win the first trial (or the first battle in the war) but this is far from over. Let's look at a few points: 1) EchoStar posted profits of 1.5 billion [cnn.com] for the year 2005. Tivo by contrast hasn't posted any profits and has lost close to half a billion since their inception. So guess who has the bigger pockets? 2) The next court that EchoStar will likely appeal to typically overturns 40% of the lower court rulings 3) Tivo's patent is currently being investigated by the US Patent Office. If they revoke that patent you can pretty much kiss Tivo good bye. It should be interesting to see how this battle continues.
    • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @08:46PM (#15126720)
      >>f they revoke that patent you can pretty much kiss Tivo good bye.

      Then so f'n long. Its not the job of the courts to make sure you remain profitable. Especially over their "time warping patent [taletyano.com]" which in a nutshell is "we patent computers recording tv video for later playback." Uhh, no. Hope you lose. There's a difference between first to market and innovation. They've been nice enough to stay away from MythTV but waiting on the niceness of corporations isn't what I call justice. Tivo's patent should be revoked. Hell, they havent made a profit in years (ever?) so these patents aren't exactly holding them together to begin with.

      I'd rather kiss Tivo goodbye than anything that resembles a tivo (like mythtv) because of silly american patent law. If it takes another silly suit from echostar to question this patent, then all the better. No one else can afford to take Tivo on. There's no ACLU for ridiculous patents to fight the patent abusers.
    • by MagikSlinger (259969) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @08:47PM (#15126728) Homepage Journal
      I do feel sorry for TiVO, but on the other hand, can anyone read the TiVO patents and explain in plain english was exactly they patented? Even if it is just a "method and system" for digitizing video onto a hard-disk for random-access playback by the user, it would qualify as a novel invention in my books. It's just that, well... didn't the broadcast industry have that LONG before we did? And the basic idea of pausing live television was also used by television networks for instant replay which even used a hard-disk (but an analog one, if memory serves).

      I just hope TiVO doesn't get greedy and either tries to become a) an honest corporate citizen and tries to make win-win licensing deals with their competitors, or b) realise that the money is in the "bits about bits" and that their real cash cow is the recommendation service and TV guide.
      • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @08:58PM (#15126769)
        >>novel invention in my books. I

        Take videotape out. Check. Put hard drive in. Check. Get patent. [taletyano.com] Check. Novel invention?

        Recording television and watching it later. Hmm. I was doing this as a kid on my dad's old Betamax in the early 80s. Lets not push it here. Its a shame that companies like google and tivo have this geek halo around them, where we all just decide to give them a severe double standard. I'm certain if MS had this patent blood would be spilled by now.
        • Could you record to and playback from random locations on that video tape at the same time? No? Well then they did way more than replace a tape with a drive, didn't they?

          You try taking a hard drive from 1997 and recording and playing back MPEG2 data in real time simutaniously on it. You already know they figured it out, and it would still be a challenge even if you were an expert (which it seems fairly clear you aren't since you con't grasp the complexity of the problem).
          • You try taking a hard drive from 1997 and recording and playing back MPEG2 data in real time simutaniously on it. You already know they figured it out, and it would still be a challenge even if you were an expert (which it seems fairly clear you aren't since you con't grasp the complexity of the problem).

            The difficulty of that in 1997 was a function of the crappy hard drives of the day. But what does that have to do with the current situation? TiVo's patent is still in force for hard drives that can easil

          • Patents aren't there for recognizing good engineering. They exist for protecting new and nonobvious inventions. It's rather obvious that a hard drive can be used for recording and playing back video, and using it to time-shift video is an obvious application, especially given the existence of VCRs.

            As for the difficulty of doing it: it's not difficult at all, and in any case this is not relevant to the patent. They didn't patent a method of using a slow hard drive to time shift video. They patented any g
            • They exist for protecting new and nonobvious inventions.

              Recording and playing back video at the same time from the same hard dirve was both new and non-obvious when they filed the patent. I don't know why it's so hard for you to see that. There were plenty of experts in the field... People who made non-linear digital editing stations, etc... None of those people thought of it. There are other people who were making DVRs at the time, Echostar for example, and they didn't think of it until they had a Tivo to
    • Yeah, but Echostar is one of the very few entertainment/media companies I still respect. It's a shame.
  • by Cthefuture (665326) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @08:35PM (#15126681)
    What the hell kind of patent is that?

    What kinds of patents does TiVo actually have? Are things like MythTV at risk?

    I have been considering writing my own Myth-like software. I would hate to get it shut down because of some stupid GUI patent or something.
    • by nebaz (453974) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @08:54PM (#15126756)
      Found on a TiVo press release [tivo.com].

      US Patents

      6,850,691 - Automatic playback overshoot correction system

      6,847,778 - Multimedia Visual Progress Indication System

      6,792,195 - Method and Apparatus Implementing Random Access and Time-Based Functions on a Continuous Stream of Formatted Digital Data (continuation of 6,327,418)

      6,757,906 - Television Viewer Interface System

      They also have exclusive licensing rights to

      5,241,428 - Variable-Delay Video Recorder

      Japanese Patents

      3615486 - Multimedia Time Warping System

      Chinese Patents

      ZL 99804757.0 - Method and Apparatus Implementing Random Access and Time-Based Functions on a Continuous Stream of Formatted Digital Data (see US patent 6,327,418)

      ZL 00805987.X - Data Storage Management and Scheduling System

      This is of March 2005, they may have more since then. Also, if you want to search the text of the US patents, you can start here [uspto.gov]


      • 6,847,778 - Multimedia Visual Progress Indication System
        [available in Quicktime and RealPlayer for over a decade]

        6,850,691 - Automatic playback overshoot correction system
        [this is unclear to me, is this to handle synching? there's been such corrections for year otherwise what the heck are they talking about?]

        6,792,195 - Method and Apparatus Implementing Random Access and Time-Based Functions on a Continuous Stream of Formatted Digital Data (continuation of 6,327,418)

        [Wasn't this done for digital data acces
    • by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:16PM (#15127102) Homepage Journal
      It's just a jump to the left . . .

      -Peter

      PS: Here I go again, proving there should be a "-1: I don't get it" moderation option.
  • by MrFrank (261142) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @08:37PM (#15126689)
    ... and it's not a TiVo. It's a VCR that uses disk instead of tape to do it's recording. Yeah you get the benefits of a random access storage medium, so you can watch whil you record and pause, etc.

    But is doesn't have the nice features that TiVo has. I can't record all episodes of a certain show, I can only give it a time to record (and it doesn't auto adjust if a game goed long). I can't tell it to record everything for a certain actor. Amongst other things.

    Now I never used a TiVo, but from what I have been told, the Dish PVR doesn't compete.
    • What, do you have the ghetto Dish PVR or get hosed by your sales guy?

      I have the Dish 522 and -love- it. It records "new episodes" or all, or just some. Has priority scheduling, 2 tuners (record 2 shows at once while watching something else), etc, etc.

      I may have to respect TiVo's patents, but I can't help but thinking that laywering up because you set your pricepoint too high for the cable companies to buy your technology really sucks for most TV consumers.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Having seen and played with EVERY Dish PVR, as well as Series 1, Series 2 and DirecTV Tivo units, I can say hands down that the Dish Network boxes are big huge steaming piles compared to ANY offering by Tivo. It's not even close.

        Dish has gotten better, but they haven't even come close to the Tivo yet.

        And yes, I am the current owner of 2 DirecTV Tivo units. I bought them after evaluating both Dish and DirecTv's DVR options.
    • I've not used TiVo, however, I do own a Dish PVR - used to be their top of the line model - the 942.

      Dual Dish Tuner, Off-Air TV Tuner, plus 2 outputs - seperate remotes for each output...

      Here's the cool part.

      I can record off both dish tuners, the off-air tuner, and watch 2 previously recorded shows on the other outputs.

      So essentially 5 different things going on at once.

      And yes - you can configure Dish to record all kinds of ways.

      #1 All episodes of a given show.
      #2 All NEW episodes of a given show - ie - only
    • Generic DVRs certainly don't compete with Tivo's flagship products, but there are lower cost, and non-subscription based Tivo products that lack all of those "Tivo features" you just described. Just because Tivo has a reputation for all of their whiz-bang features doesn't mean that these cheaper imitations don't compete with them.
    • I have 2 of the DirecTV Tivos (1 SD & 1 HD). My Brother in law has Dish. You are right. NO comparison.
    • I also have a Dish Network DVR and I *can* tell it to record all episodes of a certain show. I can set a timer for just a certain time slot/channel (e.g. Simpsons, Sunday night 8:00) or as I like to do with Adult Swim, tell it to find all episodes of Harvey Birdman and record those (Adult Swim is famous for their schedules being out of sync with the guide, which is what my DVR seems to go by when scheduling things).

      And my wife, a big fan of 24, set a timer that records all episodes of 24, regardless of time
  • by ingoldsby (924334) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @08:42PM (#15126705)
    This was one patent I wanted to be upheld. Tivo put a lot of work into getting DVR's off the ground, and the have a rabid fanbase but almost nothing to show for it. Tivo makes a great product, I'm glad they won the first round and hope that this is the start of really good things for the company. As someone who has used the knock off's they sure didn't do a good job knocking them off, their product sucks. That said - I know a few people who absolutely love my tivo's but are content just getting by with the cable companies DVR because it only costs $6/month, which is exactly what this lawsuit is about. Sure did make my purchase of stocks last Friday pay off :)
  • Mixed Feelings (Score:5, Insightful)

    by logicnazi (169418) <logicnazi@gmailEULER.com minus math_god> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @08:42PM (#15126707) Homepage
    On the one hand I'm happy to see a company that created a truly new product be rewarded.

    On the other hand I'm not sure that what TiVO did wasn't obvious. Using a HD rather than a videotape was surely obvious and automating the process of recording shows is not only obvious but far from original. All TiVO did is put both of these things together in a convient package and I find it hard to formulate any principled rule that would call TiVO's developments non-obvious but NPT's blackberry patent obvious.

    The difference seems only to be that geeks like TiVO and TiVO hasn't being suing individuals who decide to set up their computers to tape shows for them. But if they do get their patent enforced that is exactly what they *could* do in the future.

    In the end I tend to think the TiVO patent should have been rejected as obvious. However, I think the only reason TiVO didn't make money is the monopoly cable companies and satellite companies have on their markets. When data service becomes the commidity everyone buys and there is free competition amount content providers on an open protocal companies like TiVO won't be shut out by monopolists who can make it difficult for TiVO to penetrate their markets.
    • I commented here already, but wanted to reiterate this. It was the 'time warp' feature which this patent trial was about - the ability to perform simultaneous functions, such as recording live TV *and* watching something that was prerecorded (while also being able to pause/rewind/ff/skip-ahead in that program).

      What came out at the trial was that echostar's original products did *not* have that functionality. They only incorporated that after getting their hands on a tivo system (which Tivo rather naively
      • I think one of the reasons they didn't include such functionality is pressure from broadcasters/advertisers. The ability to record and watch simultaneously almost inevitably entails the ability to skip commercials.

        The fact that it wasn't yet on the market hardly shows that it wasn't obvious. It may not have been obvious that this feature would make a profit/be popular but the patent office doesn't grant patents on realizing that something would make money. The patent office grants patents based on the te
      • Or let me put the argument differntly.

        Clearly you agree that there was nothing non-obvious about the technical aspects of what TiVO did to someone skilled in the art of computer video. I mean this same technology has been seperatly developed tons of times so it would be pretty tough to argue this.

        Thus at a minimum for you to be right it must not have occured to hundreds of EchoStar customers, 'hey wouldn't it be nice if I could record one program while watching another.' EchoStar could have not pursued it
    • At the time TiVO came out, doing what they did with the hardware available was hardly a small feat. Sure, now it seems easy, because we have much faster hard drives and computers. Back then it was amazing, and decidedly non-obvious that you could get commodity hardware to do that (playback and record at full speed at the same time, that is).
      • Fine then give them a patent on making commodity hardware circa year such and such do this. If the non-obvious part of their design was just coding well enough to make it work with current hardware then they can have that patent but it would be totally worthless.

        This is like arguing that the first person to do multi-tasking on a PC deserves a patent for realizing that multi-tasking wasn't only something that supercomputers can do. Admitedly at that time it probably wasn't obvious that a PC had enough powe
        • If it was obvious, wouldn't it have been done already?

          Oh, ok. Guess it wasn't.
        • Re:Mixed Feelings (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ivan256 (17499) *
          There's more to a patent than obviosness. The idea has to be novel. Maybe it's obvios to you in hindsight, but if it was so obvios back then, why hadn't anybody (including the makers of high end digital video editing stations, who were the most skilled in the requisite arts at the time) thought of it yet?

          This is like arguing that the first person to do multi-tasking on a PC deserves a patent for realizing that multi-tasking wasn't only something that supercomputers can do.

          No it's not. Nobody was doing rando
    • I find it hard to formulate any principled rule that would call TiVO's developments non-obvious but NPT's blackberry patent obvious.

      One major difference in my mind.. TiVo created the idea of a harddrive as a replacement for the VCR, and NPT created the idea for email from a handheld device. Both semi novel ideas, but ideas others have thought of before. TiVo created a great product that implemented this idea in a truly novel way that created MANY copyers. NPT created an idea and sat on it.
    • In the end I tend to think the TiVO patent should have been rejected as obvious.

      But it wasn't obvious when Tivo started. Otherwise, we would have already had it. Computers have been around for decades now. So have hard drives, video encoders/decoders, etc. All the parts were there, but the innovative idea to put them together in a new way and CHANGE the way we watched television... that was worth a patent.

      And I mean "we" the masses, not "we" the bright hobbyists who were already dabbling with video capture
      • Uhh, no the patent office doesn't give out patents for realizing that X is profitable. It gives patents for developing technology X.

        Under your argument Apple should get a patent for a windowing OS despite X/Xerox parc doing it first as they were the first ones to realize it might be profitable on PCs. Hell redhat should be able to get a software patent on Linux because they realized it was profitable to sell.

        The patent system simply isn't supposed to work that way. It is only supposed to give patents tha
    • Re:Mixed Feelings (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Burning1 (204959) on Friday April 14, 2006 @01:20AM (#15127690) Homepage
      I remember the incredible difficulty TiVo had trying to explain what their product did to consumers. These days, the PVR is ubiquidus. Back then, people still saw TiVo as a kind of VCR, which it really wasn't.

      Given the difficulty in explaining what a PVR did, I don't think the idea is entirely obvious.
    • by aug24 (38229)
      Here's a simple rule: If, when you hear about something you think "I wish I'd thought of that" then it is probably non-obvious and yet simple.

      Justin.
  • Dish had a DVR 1st (Score:5, Informative)

    by Brad1138 (590148) <brad1138@yahoo.com> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @08:47PM (#15126725)
    I am surprised that TiVo won this case. Dish network had the 7100/7200 which could pause and record live TV before TiVo's patent. It may have been a piece of shit but it was still first. Obviously Echostars product would improve over time and the similarities of the current models are logical advance in the technologies.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "Obviously Echostars product would improve over time"

      I found the hole in your argument.
    • by mgkimsal2 (200677) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:15PM (#15126843) Homepage
      As a Tivo stockholder, I've been following the trial as closely as I could. The patent focused on what they called the 'time warp' aspect. What came out in testimony was that the original echostar dish stuff could *not* let you watch a prerecorded program *and* simultaneously be recording a new program. It seems this functionality only made its way in to dish products *after* they had access to a Tivo which the Tivo dev team left them during a licensing/partnership meeting. Bad move on Tivo's part to leave equipment in a potential competitor's hands, obviously. What seemed to come out is that it was true the original echostar dish products *didn't* infringe on the Tivo patents, but that's not what they've been selling for a long time - they've been selling products that infringe on the patent.

      So, given that such a large company had a 'similar' product on the market *before* Tivo, and it didn't have anywhere close to the functionality which Tivo patented, it would seem to be that the 'non-obvious' or 'novel' aspects of the patent got a significant boost. If it was such an 'obvious' way of performing this trick, the people with an earlier technology would have indeed developed the 'obvious' technique and used it in their product.
  • by Bodhammer (559311) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:03PM (#15126797)
    Disclaimer - I used to work for Philips. I'm still using a Series 1 Tivo that has been seriously upgraded. I own some Tivo stock.

    Tivo has been compared to the VCR and with that logic, does not deserve patent protection. I disagree and believe that Tivo did innovate and does deserve patent protection.

    What Tivo did first:

    1) Downloadable program guide - Before Tivo, the only automated way to record was VCR+. It was lame and with TV Guide print deadlines 3-4 week before publish date it was shaky.

    2) Digital recording - Though I agree that substituting a hard disk for a tape (media) may not deserve a patent, Tivo was the first successful use of mass market MPEG-2 recording. My tivo was 20 hours at first, this was an exponential leap. Tivo took open-source code (Linux), developed proprietary code and hardware, a dial-up infrastructure and made it work. They also, to the best of my knowledge, have honored the GPL and released their GPL tainted code back.

    3) User interface - don't even try to tell me this is derivative of any VCR interface that exists today. Tivo's GUI is 6 years old and it still works well.

    4) 30-sec skip, wish lists, filters, etc. might be considered standard now but when Tivo implemented them, they were revolutionary to the TV market and pre-digital TV.

    I ABOLUTELY do not believe in patent protection where prior art exists or where it's basic physics or biology, etc. that someone is trying to patent. That said, I believe that Tivo innovated, took risk, and is trying to defend its investment and true intellectual property. This is what the patent system and at a more basic level, property rights are all about.

    The real issue and problem is not Echostar, it is Hollywood and the MPAA. Tivo is the ultimate fair-use device. They deserve protection for their ideas and the right to survive in a FAIR market on their own ideas.

     
    • Oh yea, 5) they acutally filed and payed for the patents. Now they are paying to defend them.
    • 1) Downloadable program guide

      I think tvguide.com has the prior art there...

      Tivo was the first successful use of mass market MPEG-2 recording.

      Since when did "successful" or "mass market" have anything to do with patents?

      They also, to the best of my knowledge, have honored the GPL and released their GPL tainted code back.

      Good for them, but that's completely besides the point.

      3) User interface - don't even try to tell me this is derivative of any VCR interface that exists today.

      No, it's not like a VCR, it's mu

    • Checking it twice (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Thursday April 13, 2006 @11:41PM (#15127427) Homepage Journal
      It's good to make lists like this but there are a couple to shorten it by.

      2) Digital recording - Though I agree that substituting a hard disk for a tape (media) may not deserve a patent, Tivo was the first successful use of mass market MPEG-2 recording.

      As others have mentioned the original Dish Players had rudimentary recording before TiVo. They've been MPEG-2/DVB since inception.

      4) 30-sec skip, wish lists, filters, etc. might be considered standard now but when Tivo implemented them, they were revolutionary to the TV market and pre-digital TV.

      There were some VCR's on the market with a 30-second skip button.
    • You are absolutely wrong about no downloadable program guide before TiVo.

      There were both StarSight and VideoGuide, both sold in the mid 1990s before TiVo.

      VideoGuide actually had a nice GUI interface with a comfortable simple remote. Except for the limitations of Tape (no random access, no way to delete shows or know what was on which tape), it was quite comparable to TiVo. It downloaded program guide data via a wireless interface (based on a pager network). You could buy the units at any RadioShack.
    • I disagree and believe that Tivo did innovate and does deserve patent protection.

      Tivo may well have thought innovatively, and be a great company -- but remember, you can't patent great ideas, and that's what exactly most of what you describe sounds like.

      If they had a sufficiently non-obvious mechanism to implement some of their great ideas, they could patent the mechanism, but anybody else is quite free to come along and use a different method with the same result. Even if Tivo thought of it first.
    • You haven't described anything that should be eligible for patenting. You don't get patents for making a widget that does X, you get a patent for the particular way in which it achieves doing X.

      So ok, 30 second skip is a useful idea, it was new, I'm not going to debate if it's an idea or not. It doesn't matter - a valid patent would be one for the particular way they achieved doing a 30 second skip. And although I have no idea how the Tivo works, I don't believe their method of achieving that was unobvious

  • TiVo's exact patent (Score:2, Informative)

    by ssuchter (451997)
    TiVo's patent in question is on being able to record one show while using the same device to watch another. Dish's prior recorder that allowed pausing of live TV isn't really prior art of that.
    • If all Tivo's patent is is the idea of recording one show while watching another, than it should be thrown out. There's nothing revolutionary or non-obvious about it. People were recording one show while watching another with their TV/VCR setups long before Tivo ever came around. If Tivo hadn't put this feature in their DVR, there still would have been thousands of consumers who would have thought, "hey, being able to record one show while watching another would be a great feature to have on these things
      • No one was watching a program from the same media they were recording to with a VCR. You might have been watching one program 'live' and recording to a VCR from another input, or something like that, perhaps.

        Tivo's patent is for a specific method of doing this sort of juggling with one media device (a hard drive) which was non-obvious at the time (what? 8-9 years ago?) Patent's are not supposed to be just for an 'idea' but a specific implementation of an idea, which Tivo's is.
        • Tivo's patent is for a specific method of doing this sort of juggling with one media device (a hard drive) which was non-obvious at the time (what? 8-9 years ago?)

          Didn't this exist in the pro-editing space at the time? I thought TV production systems could do this (review while still recording) but it would be better if somebody with more experience in the field at the time could comment here.
  • by sunderland56 (621843) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:55PM (#15127012)
    The Abekas A62 disk recorder could record one video stream, while playing back another. It was introduced in the mid 1980's, so any patents involved have likely run out by now. Abekas even won an Emmy award for it in 1986.
    It was meant for professional studio use, cost about $150K, and only held 100 seconds of video - but hey, that was 20 years ago. I'm not sure how Tivo can claim to have invented the technology.
  • by Brad1138 (590148) <brad1138@yahoo.com> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:57PM (#15127022)
    EchoStar Statement Regarding VERDICT IN TiVo Inc. v. EchoStar Communications Corp. LAWSUIT

    April 13, 2006 - This is the first step in a very long process and we are confident we will ultimately prevail. Among other things, we believe the patent - as interpreted in this case - is overly broad given the technology in existence when TiVo filed its patent. We believe the decision will be reversed either through post-trial motions or on appeal. Additionally, the Patent Office is in the process of re-examining TiVo's patent, having determined there is a substantial question concerning the validity of the patent.

    DISH Network subscribers can continue to use the receivers in their homes, including their DVRs. Furthermore, TiVo dropped their claim that EchoStar's Dishplayer 7200 DVR infringes their patent.
  • Bad news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Godji (957148)
    It doesn't matter who's on each side of the argument - but any outcome in favor of a software patent is bad. Very bad.
  • Even if EchoStar fails in appeals court, the Damages will most likely be capped depending on State law. I think about 30 states have caps on punitive damages, VA being the most extreme - where punitive damages are caped at $350,000 even. Jury's aren't told about the caps. They come out of the court room thinking they really stuck it to the defendant, and as soon as they leave, the Judge reduces the number according to the state's law. (That one that applies is where the injury occurred)

    Newspapers almo
    • by Free_Meson (706323) on Friday April 14, 2006 @04:59AM (#15128154)
      Patent infringement cases are exclusively federal jurisdiction, so any state laws pertaining to damages would be completely irrelevant. More importantly, there aren't "punitive" damages in patent infringement cases -- the patentee is entitled to lost profits or a reasonable royalty for past infringement and an injunction against future infringement. Where the jury finds the infringement to be willful, that number can then be trebled.
  • How does this relate to the ReplayTV. I purchased a Panasonic Showstopper 2000 five years ago. It has similar features to Tivo, some better (30-second skip wasn't in Tivo years ago), some worse (no season pass). Most DVR articles neglect to mention competing products. Has Tivo successfully sued over the ReplayTV?

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