Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Media Government The Courts News

TiVO Patent Upheld, Dish May Have to Disable DVR 235

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the warped-decisions dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a ruling by a lower court that Dish Network DVRs infringe upon TiVO's patent on a 'multimedia time warping system'. According to some analysts, this could not only make Dish liable for damages, it could force them to shut down their DVR service, harming their customers. The patent in question has already been reexamined once and the ruling on appeal (PDF) was unanimous."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

TiVO Patent Upheld, Dish May Have to Disable DVR

Comments Filter:
  • MythTV (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aardpig (622459) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @12:42AM (#22270718)
    I wonder if this will have any effect on MythTV [mythtv.org]?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I assume so. I mean look how quickly opensource solutions to mp3 encoding,dvd decrypting, and other such things were dropped because of US patents and such. Oh, wait...
  • Not so fast (Score:5, Informative)

    by Itsallmyfault (1015439) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @12:42AM (#22270724)
    As I understand it, Dish Networks has pushed upgrades to their units, resolving any infringment issues. Deactivating DVRs isn't on the table.
    • Because TFA [arstechnica.com] mentions an update that disables the 'multimedia time warping' bit:

      Last, and perhaps most troubling for Dish, the company faces the very real possibility that it will be barred from selling DVRs and forced to disable the functionality on devices already in customers' homes.

      (emphasis added)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SeaFox (739806)
        Yet more evidence that the VCR was better. Customers aren't left holding the bag when the parent company fucks up legally.

        I've said it once, and I'll say it again: Don't buy products that depend on a connection to their home company to function or can be remotely controlled.
    • by tm2b (42473)
      That's Dish's attorneys' position. I'm sure TiVo's attorneys feel otherwise.

      Expect more court dates.
  • by okmijnuhb (575581) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @12:43AM (#22270730)
    ...isn't that prior art?
    • by filbranden (1168407) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @01:07AM (#22270824)

      Also, DVR permits you to watch the program while taping it, in a way that allows you to "pause" it and continue later. This ability is included in TiVO's patent. There's no way to do this with a VCR, so it doesn't count as previous art for it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by multisync (218450)

        Also, DVR permits you to watch the program while taping it, in a way that allows you to "pause" it and continue later. This ability is included in TiVO's patent. There's no way to do this with a VCR, so it doesn't count as previous art for it.

        Sounds a lot like "instant replay," the ability to pause, rewind and fast forward a live broadcast. They've been doing in sports broadcasts since the 60s. Using fancy video tape decks -"VCRs" if you will.

        I wonder too - as others have - what the implications are for hav

        • by Romancer (19668)
          Instant replay was a VCR that was on site, not consumer controllable. Big difference in the device. YOU could not rewind and replay live tv and neither could they. On site, it was a camera signal to VCR. Not until it left the broadcast station was it TV. And after that you had no control other than to turn the channel.
          • Whether it's "consumer controllable" or not makes no difference - it still allowed "the user" to perform those actions, and it's still not an original idea. Aside from the older VCR tech already mentioned, digital audio workstations have been doing this exact same thing with audio (pause/playback of multiple media streams in real time while continuing to record, not to mention non-destructive editing) for the past 30 years. Applying the same ideas to video (which is just another type of media stream) is h
          • by multisync (218450)
            It doesn't take a great leap to go from one to the other, especially now that we have these great general purpose machines at our disposal. I can do it now. The question is, will patents like this one make it illegal for me to do so using free software.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by TimothyJones (954047)
            Instant replay was a VCR that was on site, not consumer controllable. Big difference

            No difference. What does technology have to do with the market in which it exists other than catering to it.

            Regardless. It's a bullshit patent. I've been doing that crap with VCR's years before TiVo albeit it was neither this pretty nor flexible. Digital format simply offers new advantages in terms of application, speed, and cost but to patent recording 2 programs at once or recording one and watching another? What kind o

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by stang (90261)

              Its a bullshit patent. Ive been doing that crap with VCRs years before TiVo

              No, you havent. There has never been a VCR that allows you to rewind and watch from the beginning at the same time recording continues. Tapes cant, and dont, work that way. Instant replay in sports involved (I dont know the specifics) multiple machines and some coordinated efforts by the broadcast team.

              All a DVR does is access stored files from different processes. My computer does this all the time

              TiVos patents include a very

              • by Rob Y. (110975)
                I agree that being able to pause and rewind a program while you're still recording it is Tivo's big innovation. But essentially that's an obvious extension of their original innovation, recording to a disk instead of a tape. The random-access nature of a disk makes this a trivial 'achievement'. It's still clever as hell to think of it in the first place, but obvious to figure out how to do it once you're recording to a random-access device.

                In a way, this is similar to Amazon's one-click patent. Combine
                • by stang (90261)

                  might have had to tell you there's a hard disk inside the box, but once you know that, the rest is obvious

                  No, it's not - and that's why they got a patent. The patent isn't for "recording to a hard disk", it's a patent on a very specific method of writing data to the hard disk.

                  One of the founders of TiVo has a chapter in Founders At Work [amazon.com]. He discusses the problems of getting TiVo functionality into low-end commodity hardware in the late '90s. If you read that, you'll get a better understandi

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by foniksonik (573572)
            Yes but for patent purposed... is there a difference whether the mechanism for doing so was in the studio or in your home? If it's just miniaturization and aggregation of a process already in place, conveniently packaged at a price point for consumers, does it count as new and non-obvious?

    • by mkraft (200694) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @08:06AM (#22272280)
      If you actually read the patent [google.com] you'll see the following:

      1. A process for the simultaneous storage and play back of multimedia data, comprising the steps of: accepting television (TV) broadcast signals, wherein said TV signals are based on a multitude of standards, including, but not limited to, National Television Standards Committee (NTSC) broadcast, PAL broadcast, satellite transmission, DSS, DBS, or ATSC; tuning said TV signals to a specific program; providing at least one Input Section, wherein said Input Section converts said specific program to an Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG) formatted stream for internal transfer and manipulation; providing a Media Switch, wherein said Media Switch parses said MPEG stream, said MPEG stream is separated into its video and audio components; storing said video and audio components on a storage device; providing at least one Output Section, wherein said Output Section extracts said video and audio components from said storage device; wherein said Output Section assembles said video and audio components into an MPEG stream; wherein said Output Section sends said MPEG stream to a decoder; wherein said decoder converts said MPEG stream into TV output signals; wherein said decoder delivers said TV output signals to a TV receiver; and accepting control commands from a user, wherein said control commands are sent through the system and affect the flow of said MPEG stream.


      What this means in laymans terms is that the patent is for the process of taking a video, converting it to a MPEG stream and then separating the audio and video portions which are then stored separately. To play back the video, the video and audio files are combined back into a MPEG stream and then decoded. In addition commands can be used to manipulate playback of the the MPEG stream. The above process allowed MPEG encoding/decoding to occur using very low end hardware. Those who say that TiVo can sue the manufacturers of every hardware and software DVR on the market, either do not understand the above patent or do not understand how other DVRs work. The patent only affects DVRs that store the audio and video separately. Dish was a good target because they basically reverse engineered a prototype that TiVo showed them back in the days to convince them to license the TiVo patent. DirectTV chose to license the technology, which is why they weren't sued.
      • by russ1337 (938915)

        wherein said Input Section converts said specific program to an Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG) formatted stream for internal transfer and manipulation; providing a Media Switch, wherein said Media Switch parses said MPEG stream, said MPEG stream is separated into its video and audio components; storing said video and audio components on a storage device; providing at least one Output Section, wherein said Output Section extracts said video and audio components from said storage device; wherein said O

        • The most obvious solution is to just dump the raw digital stream straight to storage. It's already compressed by the studio, potentially using much better compressors than are available to a set-top box, considering the resources of the studio and the lack of a need for real-time performance.

          Transcoding that stream may have made sense even a couple years ago, but hundred dollar (retail) 500 GB USB hard drives seem to obviate that need. That disk could hold nearly 30 hours of cable-TV programming or 60 hour
  • ST:DVR (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 02, 2008 @12:43AM (#22270732)
    "Multimedia time warping"? What's this, Captain Picard's DVR?
  • They'll have to shell out for licensing. If they lose the DVR option, they're going to lose half their customers. I'm with Dish now, but the minute the DVR is disabled I'll be calling up to cancel (God help them if they try to hold me to my contract, since they'll clearly be breaking it by not providing the service they promised) and calling up DirecTV to see what they have on special that week...
    • by SRA8 (859587)
      "(God help them if they try to hold me to my contract, since they'll clearly be breaking it by not providing the service they promised)" Actually, not much will happen to them. Keep in mind, this is the company which calls me, and many other people I know, EVERY SINGLE EVENING. They get around the Federal Do Not Call lists by making the calls from India. They also insist that these callers arent employees, but rather random people who just decided to sell dish network service. Oh, btw, its also the co
      • by sumdumass (711423)
        I call in and report them. I even called the DHS tip line once when the number showed up as some weird 12 or 13 digit number. I don't get much of their calls anymore.

        I also tell telemarketers firmly to take me off their lists and any lists they have me associated with. I was having some problems with some company calling with a computerized recording that you have to wait and press a number to get to a real person. When I told them to make sure I'm off any lists they might have, they claimed I called them.
      • by GizmoToy (450886)
        The Do Not Call list exempts companies you've had a previous business relationship with. We get calls from Dish with fair regularity, probably a few times a month, but we're also Dish customers so there's not a whole lot you can do besides threaten to cancel unless they stop calling. You didn't mention if you are, or have been in the past, a Dish customer, but that may explain why you're getting the calls. Placing the calls from India does not get around the Do Not Call list. Dish is still an American c
    • by BLKMGK (34057)
      I on the other hand just dumped DTV. Why? FIOS finally became available and I could move to an HD DVR thathas te TIVO interface - a TIVO HD. The DVR that Direct sells these days is their own, much like DISH, after they abandoned their agreement with TIVO. Prior to this I had a hacked DTIVO and SD video that worked GREAT. I didn't move fully to HD until I coudl do it with TIVO. I like the interface and it's why I moved from DISH many years ago. Some ass at Direct thoguth they would save some bux once upon a
  • the jury (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Psychotria (953670) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @12:45AM (#22270740)
    The jury awarded TiVo $73 911 964 in damages. No wonder there are patent-trolls roaming about, with this kind of money being tossed around.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Zymergy (803632) *
      And that's just for the Plaintiff's (alleged) damages... I wonder how much the jury was paid?

      Q: What's better than 1,000 Lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?
      A: 1,000 Patent-Troll Lawyers at the bottom of the ocean.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bersl2 (689221)
        Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

        I doubt jury misconduct; jury idiocy is more likely.
        • Or maybe they weeded out the non tivo users from the jury box and got them to believe if dishnetwork kept doing this their tivos would die or become useless.

          Then again, yeah,,i suspect idiocy as well.
        • jury idiocy is more likely
          Serious question for any lawyer-types around: Who is on this kind of jury? Is it just like any other trial, where they're selected at pseudorandom from the population, or do they have to have some qualifications that show they actually understand the technical issues?
    • Re:the jury (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @02:53AM (#22271224) Homepage

      The jury awarded TiVo $73 911 964 in damages. No wonder there are patent-trolls roaming about, with this kind of money being tossed around.
      On the other hand Tivo is hardly a patent troll with no business, they have a very real product that has probably lost a lot of money to competitiors infringing on the patent. Nor has it really been a secret that Tivo has been holding these patents in the DVR market. What is outragous are the companies that never have and never will make anything based on a patent, but simply wait around to sue someone out of nowhere. Dish is hardly noobs, they have lawyers and if they've failed to come up with prior art ot fail the obviousness criteria then perhaps Tivo actually has been innovative? I'm really not too concerned with patent cases where the patent holder has actually used the patent and made a product that someone else is trying to shamelessly copy. Right now it's a "sunk innovation", Tivo has made the innovation and now they're reaping the benefits, but that kind of money is also motivation for someone to find a different way of doing things. It's very tempting to have your cake (have someone invest to make an innovation) and eat it too (let everyone copy it so you don't pay a premium) but it doesn't quite add up.
    • Bad example. Tivo's not a patent troll. Ever wonder why they're suing Dish and not Cox, Comcast, and everyone else with a DVR? Because Dish was first, and Tivo started this process almost as soon as Dish came out with their DishPlayer software, competing with the Tivo/DirecTV partnership. Yes, litigation takes a LONG time.

      Say what you will about their patents, but the company is not a troll in the normal sense of the word because a) they actually invented this technology and b) didn't wait till it was i
  • MPEG Streams Only? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JustinRLynn (831164) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @12:47AM (#22270756)
    The patent specifically mentions conversion to and manipulation of the incoming signal via an MPEG formatted stream. Does this mean that devices that use another format for manipulating the streams, say Ogg/Vorbis/Theora, would not be infringing?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Correct, unless the other format is MPEG compliant
    • In true Slashdot style, the answer is yes, no, maybe. Your lawyer would argue that it doesn't infringe that specific claim. Their lawyer would argue that it is clearly work based on their patent with minor modifications to escape on a technicality. A jury would say maybe.

      Patents don't have the same idea of a derived work as copyright, but they do allow fuzzy matching in infringement cases. The idea of a patent is to prevent trade secrets by protecting inventors who disclose their inventions. It is in

      • by DougWebb (178910)

        In other countries, particularly in the Far East, changing the color of a device is sufficient to side-step a patent. Here in the US, patents aren't quite so specific, so you're right: a company making a device that implements all of the claims but uses a different codec would probably wind up in court.

        However, if the particular codec isn't a crucial aspect of the invention, why does the claim specifically say MPEG? Most of the claims are fairly vaguely worded so that they'd cover alternative implementati

  • by GuyverDH (232921) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @12:53AM (#22270778)
    Tivo's patent is for analog to digital conversion / time warping.

    Dish's patent is for digital to digital (different digital formats) conversion / time warping.

    Guess which broadcast standard is going away.... =)
    • Couldn't you just record the actual signal coming in the back of the box before the image and sound processing was done and get around both patents? They maybe creating a read ahead buffer of about 128 megs or so and you could use somewhat of a standard commercial length for a skip a read and rewind. Just keep the viewing in the middle of the buffer and add to either side depending on which direction it is going in.

      You could drop the tuner support for the different heads down to just the parts that segregat
  • GPL3 workaround (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sumdumass (711423) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @01:38AM (#22270956) Journal
    I'm surprised that no one is commenting on the GPLv3 and the effect this has on Tivo using GPLed products.

    I can see several situations develop. First, Tivo uses GPLed code (GPLv3) with their time shifting software and is forced to not apply the patent to derived code. Second and probably more likely, they don't use GPLed code (or GPLv3 code) for the recording and time shifting and use the patent to stop hackers from messing around and getting the Tivo functions working with non Tivo firmware or signed kernels.

    Or 3, they don't use GPLv3 code all together and nothing has changed. But it is definitely interesting to think about.
    • by ArcRiley (737114) <arcriley@ubuntu.com> on Saturday February 02, 2008 @03:13AM (#22271302)
      GNU GPL version 2, section 7:

      7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.
      TiVO already uses GPLv2 code. Since they are enforcing their own patents on the use of said software they are in violation of the GPL when distributing the software running those DVRs. When they or any retailer sell a box or send a software update they are, thus, committing copyright violation.

      This means that while they can nail Dish network for patent violation, they themselves have committed a copyright violation and opened themselves up to lawsuits from thousands of developers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by despisethesun (880261)
        I think you're reading too much into that. From what I read into it, it sounds like it covers scenarios like this:
        You're using GPL-ed code in some piece of tech or software that you are distributing. Your software is now also GPL-ed, but let's say it's violating a patent held by Company X. Company X sues you, but you settle out of court and get a patent license. However, that patent license isn't transferable to the people who receive your software, and now the people who receive your software cannot redis
      • by sumdumass (711423)

        TiVO already uses GPLv2 code. Since they are enforcing their own patents on the use of said software they are in violation of the GPL when distributing the software running those DVRs. When they or any retailer sell a box or send a software update they are, thus, committing copyright violation.

        Well, that would be true if the software that the patent covers is covered by the GPLv2 also. The GPLv3 provides some spidering effects with a little more clarity in where a program not licensed under the GPLv3 cou

      • conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License.

        Since they are enforcing their own patents on the use of said software they are in violation of the GPL


        How do you figure that? By your own words, you have said that it is their own patent - that means they get to choose the licence terms of their patented technology. If they choose licence terms that are compatible with t
      • Please will someone mod that up, just for the GPL quote. I've lost track of the number of times people have been moderated up on Slashdot making comments about GPLv2 having obviously never read as far as clause 7.

        That said, the clause only applies to patents directly applying to the GPL'd code. Clause 2c specifically states that the license does not apply to other code aggregated with the GPL'd code. They may run their DVR code on Linux, but that only means that they can not enforce patents they might h

      • Wrong (Score:4, Informative)

        by dreamchaser (49529) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @08:30AM (#22272370) Homepage Journal
        Very informative, but also very off topic. You should have a laywer explain to you what that section actually means. It has no bearing on this issue. The code TiVo has a patent on is not GPL code, first of all. Second, the section you quote refers to entities that get slapped with restrictions due to a patent they do not own and the effect thereof on their ability to distribute.
  • Why do we have a patent system?

    No, seriously -- TiVo got plenty of money for being first to market, and for licensing their actual product (hardware and software) to others.

    What does the consumer gain at this point by having competition killed? Would TiVo really not have bothered to invent the DVR without protection from this competition?
    • by Dahamma (304068) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @01:53AM (#22271034)
      Are you kidding? Tivo is pretty much screwed at this point because most people are content (happy is too strong a word - have you SEEN an Explorer 8300!?) with the crappy DVRs their cable/satellite providers now give them.

      They NEVER "got plenty of money" - I don't believe they have had more than a couple profitable quarters in 10 years (and those were probably due to lawsuits!)

      Their only hope of survival at this point is to protect their patents (that probably still have a good 7-8 years left). Patents that seem to be violated by most of the other DVRs. They are just going after Dish because DirecTV still has Tivo DVRs in service, they made a deal with Comcast (which uses Motorola), and Time Warner uses Scientific Atlanta which is a stretch to call it a DVR ("piece of crap" is a better term).

      The idea is not that no one else can make DVRs - it's that Tivo gets more money from Echostar. They only have to stop selling DVRs if they are not willing to come to an agreement. Though Echostar is the kind of company that is happy to screw over it's customers and blame someone else just to be cheap.
      • by Bent Mind (853241)

        Tivo is pretty much screwed at this point because most people are content with the crappy DVRs their cable/satellite providers now give them.

        They are just going after Dish because DirecTV still has Tivo DVRs in service, they made a deal with Comcast (which uses Motorola), and Time Warner uses Scientific Atlanta which is a stretch to call it a DVR ("piece of crap" is a better term).

        I have Dish DVR. I thought about switching to DirectTV to see what the competition offered. According to the DirectTV sales people, the DVR offered by DirectTV lacks a feature that I find important. I have a dual tuner dish and two TVs in my house. The DVR from Dish can record both signals and send them to both TVs at the same time.This means I can watch shows recorded on the DVR from either TV, record two shows at the same time, and still have independent channel switching. The DVR offered by DirectTV ca

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Samari711 (521187)
      This case is actually a textbook example of why patents exist. TiVo came up with a novel, innovative product and basically created the market for DVRs. Dish copies the idea, having to invest much less into R&D because they can just do what TiVo does, bundles it with their service so they can cut TiVo out of the market. TiVo is different from a patent troll because TiVo was actively developing and selling products based on the technology and were actually harmed by Dish's violation of their rights.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Bullshit. TiVO came up with a deadly obvious invention and managed to patent it first.

        I had the concept behind TiVO years ago when digital video first started becoming available. It's an obvious idea that anyone who's worked with UNIX pipes could have thought of. TiVO is just more for video.

        What stopped people from doing it before TiVO is the same thing that made TiVO ridiculously expensive at first: technology. Hard drives simply weren't big enough to make recording TV to disk a reasonable home applica
      • Re:Naive question... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Waffle Iron (339739) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @02:57AM (#22271240)

        TiVo is different from a patent troll

        Not really. When I looked this up a while back, as far as I could tell TiVo had several relatively narrow patents on DVR technology that they invented. (The most prominent of these had to do with tricks to get enough performance out of 1990s era hard drive to simultaneously record and view video. That's no longer an issue.) Probably most of their patents can be worked around.

        A few years ago, however, TiVo bought the rights from a 3rd party to an older and incredibly broad patent that covers absolutely any DVR implementation, or indeed any simultaneous reading and writing of any digital video stream. (From the claims it looked like the commands mencoder /dev/video -o foo.mpg &; mplayer foo.mpg would inringe.) That kind of makes them a patent troll, since that dubious "invention" (which in a sane world would have been rejected as obvious by the patent office) predates TiVo altogether. The good news is that this particular patent is expiring really soon now.

      • by jbengt (874751)

        TiVo came up with a novel, innovative product and basically created the market for DVRs
        Coming up with a novel, innovative product and marketing it does not by itself meet the requirements of inventiveness supposedly necessary for getting a valid patent.
    • by mspohr (589790)
      TiVos problem is that in spite of being first to market, the competition is eating into their business. So instead of being good 'free market' proponents and just making something better, cheaper, etc., they turn to the capitalist model and adopt monopoly tactics (patents) to prevent competition.

      Remember, good capitalists are not free market proponents. They are much happier with monopoly positions.

      • by BLKMGK (34057)
        TIVO *is* making something better! the problem is that the content providers aka DISH, Direct, ComCast, etc. woke up one day and decided that they would really like to have the money TIVO is making recording "their" content. Since they had a great deal of capital and a means to market directly to the customers most likely to want this they decided to cut out TIVO - TIVO being the market innovator. Their reps will even tell you, point blank, that their box does everything a TIVO does. It's bullshit but they
  • Well I know if I was a Dish Network customer, I'd be real super pleased with Tivo if they got my DVR shut down.  I'd be fucking screaming to become one of their customers as fast as possible.

    not.
    • by BLKMGK (34057)
      Except TIVO didn't do this, DISH did. TIVO told them ages ago that this infringed, DISH told them to piss off. TIVO would have happily licensed to themas they used to with Direct, DISH told them to piss off. ComCast has a license agreement with TIVO, DISH told them to piss off. Who exactly is it that has refused to work this out? Here's an idea - use a TIVO and compare it to the SHIT you've been shoveled by DISH, see which company innovated and which company copied another's idea. Agree or disagree with the
  • by localman (111171) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @02:05AM (#22271068) Homepage
    I'm curious to see if I get flamed for this, but I'm going to say that on some philosophical level, Tivo should win this.

    I've been very critical of patents in the past, and in general I think they are overused by trolls and big corps to squash competition on obvious ideas. But most people admit that somewhere underneath all that crap is the ideal of a little guy being able to spend a bunch of time and money to invent and bring something to market without having someone else immediately copy them and usurp the benefits of all their hard work. There's a valid, society benefitting reason for patents, it's just that they're almost never used in that way these days any more.

    I think Tivo is an example of what patents should protect. My understanding is that Tivo was a pretty clever idea, and they spent a lot of time and money creating something very cool and unique. I never owned one myself, but friends did, and it seemed to me that if anything was patentable it would be Tivo. I was later a bit weirded out when all these competing DVRs appeared. In fact I took it to mean that the patent system was broken in both directions: it encouraged patent trolling over obvious ideas and it failed to protect inventors.

    Now I hear that they may be getting patent protection after all, and for the first time since Dyson protected himself against the vacuum manufacturers that refused to license his work, I'm seeing patents do what they were meant to do: encourage actual invention.

    If you think Tivo was not worthy of a patent, then I don't know what to tell you. It's not just a VCR, and if it were people would be including VCRs in cable boxes. They came up with something cool that nobody else was doing, and if I understand the market at the time, something nobody else wanted to do. And before they could turn a profit they were slammed by knockoffs from several sides.

    Anyways: I just want to call out that while I generally gag at the patent cases I see, this is not one of them. I think Tivo brought something unique to market and they should have a (truly) limited time to exclusively benefit from it.

    Cheers.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by LordLucless (582312)
      The problem is this. Patents were never about protecting an idea, or a concept. They were about protecting a particular implementation. Originally, I believe, a patent required a working model or detailed schematic before it would be accepted. It was only that particular design that was protected. If someone else did the same thing using a different method, then your patent didn't affect them.

      The problem with Tivo's patent is that it isn't particularly novel, and it's very broad. Yes, the idea of a DVR wa
      • The idea behind a patent is to get ideas out in the open. It's a trade with the public - the inventor offers his schematics, and the public gives him a time-limited monopoly. If someone invents something - say a new stronger, lighter alloy - that nobody else knows how to make, then it's not in the public's interest to let the knowledge of how to make it die with him. So they say "we'll guarantee you nobody else will make your alloy, if you give us the process by which you make it". Now, if it's something th
  • by Belial6 (794905) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @02:55AM (#22271230)
    I'm pretty sure that video capture cards on the PC predated the Tivo. I see that AIW [wikipedia.org] was first introduced on 11/11/96. The Tivo patent is dated 6/30/98. I'm pretty sure that devices that did what the patent claims were down right common by 98. The only thing that Tivo did that was cool was put it in a nice stereo looking case, and had a nice UI.

    I know that the AIW pro that is sitting here next to me did everything described by the patent. And it predates the Tivo patent. I don't see how Dish successfully lost this case.
    • by phoebusQ (539940)
      Tivo-like devices were by no means common in 1998.

      Moreover, you seem to be under the mistaken impression, as are many on Slashdot, that any kind of "prior art" invalidates a patent, no matter how precursory or tangential. While a video capture card could certainly be combined with special software to perform "dvr"-like actions prior to the Tivo patent, the Tivo folks were the ones to define their process, productize it, and make it available. If there's any legitimate application of patents, it's a case
      • by nagora (177841)
        If there's any legitimate application of patents, it's a case like Tivo.

        Bullshit. It's a simple and obvious application of a random-access storage device (hard drive) to a VCR, everything else flows naturally out of that one combination of existing technologies. Trivial and completely undeserving of a patent. Tivo's invention is like taking a lock and applying it to a door and claiming that you deserve a patent on locking doors.

        Just scrap patents completely.

        TWW

        • by phoebusQ (539940)
          The vast majority of inventions are applications of previously existing technologies, combining them in new ways or toward new problems. To suggest that something must be a breakthrough of sorts to be patentable is an untenable position at best in the existing framework.

          To suggest "scrapping patents completely" shows a pretty significant lack of understanding of their place in the modern economy, and akin to "throwing the baby out with the bathwater".
      • by Belial6 (794905)
        Wrong. Tivo may have a better interface, but that is not what the patent is for. The point of 'prior art' is so that someone doesn't come along and patent something that is in common use. The AIW was an off the shelf product that was in common use prior to Tivo. The PCs that they were commonly put into did the things described in the patent. If having a product on the shelves, being bought and used does not constitute 'prior art', then what does?
  • Having just upgraded my Dish to a brand new ViP722 receiver... talk about your bad timing... This kinda sucks.

    That being said, bravo Tivo. This is clearly in Tivo's court, as they did create the technology. They should be paid for what they own.

    Now, here's hoping that Tivo and Dish reach an agreement without interrupting my service or raising my bill... how likely is that? It's not very likely...

    Here's an idea - Dish should give Tivo free press: "Dish PVR, based on Tivo Technology!" and drop the "It's Bette
  • has been in use by TV stations for decades so it's nothing new here.

    But of course if the court thinks it's new then it's new? Right?

  • Tivo has bought up an ancient overly broad patent that shouldn't ever have been granted in the first place, a patent that would have prevented them from getting started if the owner had noticed them and decided to enforce it against them, and are using it to cut down on competition.

    If Dish had bought that patent instead, and Tivo was on the losing side, nobody would be defending Dish. And it could have happened that way: that's the way patent trolls work, after all. A stopped clock tells the right time twic
  • Now that "Time Warping" has been achieved, it is only follows that someone will figure out "Space Warping", then we'll finally have the space-faring science fiction future we all crave.

    Dancing green girls [google.com], here I come!

  • I'm going to stop taking an interest in tech for at least another year or so.

    At Christmas time, I had to replace my TV and DVD player. Since HD DVD units were so cheap, I bought one. Less than a week later Warner Brothers announced they were dropping support (by May, but they seem kinda firm about that; then again, they were firm about staying neutral two weeks prior to that...not that that means anything.)

    About the time I took an interest in DVD-A discs and started buying (hey, they can play in DVD playe

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.

Working...