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Microsoft Sues TiVo To Help AT&T 168

Posted by timothy
from the twisted-tale dept.
Julie188 writes "Microsoft is suing TiVo, claiming patent infringement. Microsoft is doing this because TiVo has sued AT&T — and AT&T happens to be Microsoft's largest customer of Microsoft's Mediaroom IPTV technology. Microsoft says that TiVo has copied Microsoft's Mediaroom IPTV technology in its DVRs. If Microsoft wins, it would effectively block TiVo from selling DVRs without a licensing deal with Microsoft."
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Microsoft Sues TiVo To Help AT&T

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  • by Senes (928228) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @05:38PM (#30839066)
    You launch yours, I'll launch mine, and the usual trolls will launch their own just because they can. With any luck, they'll cause enough chaos to bring the issue to light and bring us closer to IP reform.
  • by amn108 (1231606) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @05:41PM (#30839104)

    You gotta love how companies have found exactly what to do with patent infringements - put them in a bag and keep them stored away well under room temperature until the right moment when these can be enjoyed - such as, at a time when they can be used to scare or threaten competitors or help achieve a goal. Patent infringement is not patent infringement until such time when it can be exploited to the limit.

    Humans are so damn smart it is scary.

    • by Jeng (926980) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @05:59PM (#30839348)

      Devils Advocate.
      Hard to know if something infringes on your patent if you don't know the implementation.

      Tivo's lawsuit against AT&T gave Microsoft the groundwork necessary to compare how Tivo's system works in comparison to Microsoft's system. /Devils Advocate

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      Humans are so damn smart it is scary.

      If humans were so smart, you wouldn't have to explain the golden rule to them.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by MrNaz (730548) *

        Not true. In a capitalist society the golden rule is: If it makes money and isn't illegal, do it.

        If we're so proud about winning the cold war, how come we keep complaining about the precise thing that we were fighting for?

        • by ivucica (1001089)
          You dropped one half of the rule, dummy.
          1. If it makes money and it's legal, do it.
          2.If it makes money and it's illegal, change the law.

          Let's see what the Grand Nagus will say!
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by smidget2k4 (847334)
            I thought it was:
            1: If it makes money and it's legal, do it.
            2: If it makes money and it's illegal but makes more money then it would cost to be legal, do it.
            3: If it makes money and it's illegal but would cost too much to do, change the law.
          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            Well, lets see [memory-alpha.org] what the Nagus would say....hmm...I would say that rules 1 "once you have their money you never give it back" 16 "a deal is a deal" and 45 "expand or die" would just about cover it.

            And since TiVo filed in Marshal Texas, AKA "patent troll haven of the USA" I would say rules 10 "greed is eternal" and 263 "Never let doubt interfere with your lust for latinum." would cover their side.

            I have to say I hope MSFT slaughters TiVo, simply because they filed in Texas and I hate jury shopping. The syst

            • by ivucica (1001089)
              I hope they slay each other. Not because "inventions" are worthless (every idea is worth something) but because everyone in software patent "business" in the US is abusing the system.

              In context of this lawsuit, I'd also like to nominate the following as relevant: 203 New customers are like razor-toothed gree-worms. They can be succulent, but sometimes they bite back. And while we're talking about Microsoft and Ferengi, I'd also mention one unrelated to this suit, but related to MS and FLOSS: 76 Every once
        • Not true. In a capitalist society the golden rule is: If it makes money and we can get away with it , do it.

          FTFY. :)

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Not true. In a capitalist society the golden rule is: If it makes money and isn't illegal, do it.

          False. While lack of money often brings sadness, money can't buy happiness. The best you can do is rent it on an extremely short term.

      • by Mikkeles (698461)

        "He who has the gold makes the rules"?

      • If humans were so smart, you wouldn't have to explain the golden rule to them.

        Do onto others as you would like to have them do ~1.618 times to you?

      • by TimSSG (1068536)
        Them that has the gold makes the rules. Tim S.
        • by TimSSG (1068536)
          Looks like the common golden rule of "He who has the Gold makes the Rules" was already posted. Here is a older version of the rule. "He who pays the piper calls the tune." Tim S.
    • by jim_v2000 (818799)
      Room temperature?! Everyone knows that patent infringement suits are a dish best served cold.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mysidia (191772)

      Except... that sleeping on your rights for that purpose gives them an affirmative defense against you: laches [wikipedia.org]

      The person invoking laches is asserting that an opposing party has "slept on its rights," and that, as a result of this delay, that other party is no longer entitled to its original claim. Put another way, failure to assert one’s rights in a timely manner can result in a claim's being barred by laches. Laches is a form of estoppel for delay. ...

      Laches essentially alleges prejudicial delay a

    • by kriston (7886)

      Wow, but honestly Microsoft didn't do anything like this to keep UltimateTV alive.
      It's a bitter irony that TiVo keeps winning suits like this to eventually be targetted by one of the richest software makers in the world.

  • Which is it? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gregg (42218) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @05:42PM (#30839114)

    Is this an example of "the enemy of my friend is my enemy" or the beginning of "mutual assured destruction"?

    • Re:Which is it? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SilverHatHacker (1381259) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @05:46PM (#30839178)
      Those two aren't necessarily exclusive...
    • MAD of AT&T and Microsoft?? Bring it on!! That could be a good thing.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        We could probably do without Tivo, in the long run. I mean, they may be competent, but they're competent bastards. Remember Tivoization?

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      The beginning of mutally assued destruction. AT&T licensed the technology it is being sued over from Microsoft, so Microsoft would directly suffer if AT&T lost. As far as I'm aware, this is the first time Microsoft has actually sued anyone for patent infringement and it is doing so for defensive reasons.

    • I like the MAD option. Someone push the button. I want to see the entire house of cards come tumbling down. And, let's pray that when the patents house of cards falls, it somehow undermines the copyrights house of cards too!!

  • by BlueTrin (683373) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @05:44PM (#30839158) Homepage Journal
    Suing TiVo for delivering content ?

    Next is Neanderthal suing them for using fire or a wheel ?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mystikkman (1487801)

      It's Tivo that's suing willy nilly.

      The latest legal salvo comes a few months after TiVo launched its own strike against AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), alleging that their video services illegally use its TV "time-warping" technology in their digital video recorders. AT&T's U-Verse TV service runs on Microsoft's Internet video technology.

      AT&T declined to comment on Microsoft's legal actions.

      TiVo hasn't been shy about using the courtroom to protect its intellectual property. The company also has a long-running dispute with Dish Networks Corp. ( DISH) and sister company Echostar Corp. (SATS) over the same DVR technology. The company has agreements with most of the cable companies and DirecTV Group Inc. ( DTV).

  • Tivo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @05:48PM (#30839196)
    The ATT/Microsoft/Motorola DVR sucks giant donkey dicks. You can bet that ATT only wished they could use Tivo technology. We had Uverse installed and ended up using our Tivos downstream of the ATT DVRs, they sucked that bad. The smart thing would have been for ATT to license the Tivo design instead of the locked-down bogus Microsoft design.
    • by ArhcAngel (247594)

      That's very interesting. When we got U-Verse (Nov 2008) I would have agreed with you. I decided to stick it out and within 3 months AT&T rolled out an update that improved the situation quite a bit. In fact they have provided quite a few improvements over the last year and most of the issues I originally had are long gone. The only issue I haven't tested since the updates is HDMI connections causing the box to randomly reboot. Both my HD sets only do up to 1080i anyway so Component is fine with me. I ne

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Locutus (9039)
      a number of years ago, Microsoft paid AT&T $5 billion to use Microsoft's embedded OS in their STBs/DVRs. And the partnership was born. Of late, AT&T once again went with the least likely to succeed company, Microsoft, for their front to back solution for IPTV and Microsoft took them to the cleaners. Even Sun, with a server capable of handling thousands of video streams couldn't sell it to AT&T because the contract said it had to run Windows.

      Since this is all Microsofts stuff, a patent case again
    • by grcumb (781340)

      The ATT/Microsoft/Motorola DVR sucks giant donkey dicks.

      Wouldn't this make a fantastic courtroom defense? I can just see it:

      "Your Honour, We submit that Tivo lacks the defining characteristics of the allegedly infringed software. Our does not suck. We tried to make it suck as much as Microsoft's, but without access to their proprietary process for suckage, were unable to make our software suck in the same way as theirs. If the court will allow, I'll spend the next 6 days demonstrating just how much their so

      • by Lershac (240419)

        CASE FUCKING DISMISSED. Microsoft is held in contempt of the world, and must perform oral sex on everyone. twice.

        • by grcumb (781340)

          CASE FUCKING DISMISSED. Microsoft is held in contempt of the world, and must perform oral sex on everyone. twice.

          So the punishment for sucking is... more sucking?

    • by jbengt (874751)
      I agree, I used to have DirecTV but switched to ATT Uverse because DiecTV wouldn't switch me to HD (calimed I couldn't get a signal)
      ATT's menu system/user interface sucks compared to DirecTV. It's slow, complicated, and clumsy.,
  • by careysb (566113) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @05:51PM (#30839216)
    So, what happens if there is a set of law suits with a circular dependency and ALL plaintiffs win? Does that mean we lose?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cryacin (657549)
      Nobody wins but the lawyers.
    • by japhering (564929)

      So, what happens if there is a set of law suits with a circular dependency and ALL plaintiffs win? Does that mean we lose?

      The only winners in this case will be the lawyers....

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dun Malg (230075)
      No, it means they cross license, and the only ones who lose are those third parties who wish to enter the same market and will now have to license both patents.
    • They will all realise the futile position they each hold, stop lobbying to have patent laws further modified to make innovation impossible, and eventually we will have a patent system which acts as intended: To protect innovation from exploitation.

      Yeah, I can't stop laughing either...
  • When one big software company sues another, the only possible outcomes are that either they all back down or they end in Mutually Assured Destruction. Most of the companies have patent portfolios as a deterrent only. I don't know what TiVo thinks they can accomplish with their North Korea strategy.

    • by tsotha (720379)
      You're missing a possibility, and one that's by far the most common resolution: They agree to patent swaps so they can use each others patents. That way when you or I try to break into the business all the large companies have a patent-enforced cartel to keep us out.
    • Most of the companies have patent portfolios as a deterrent only.

      Such companies could at least be more up front about it. For example, a company holding a patent could license the patent for all uses, provided that the licensee does not sue the company for patent infringement.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @05:53PM (#30839258) Homepage

    Live by the patent, die by the patent...

    The same nonsense that allowed Tivo to run amok is now being turned back against it.

    None of these shenanigans should be tolerated by anyone at all.

    • I think it's just a conspiracy by the lawyers to keep themselves employed. "Hey Fred, who can we sue this year that might have something sorta remotely similar in color to our latest gadget? We need something to keep our paychecks coming in and if we win we all get bonuses. What do ya mean the consumer might get screwed? We're lawyers, we don't care who gets screwed as long as it isn't us"
    • by diamondsw (685967) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:04PM (#30840202)

      Except Tivo wasn't a patent troll - they actually produced a best-of-class product that the courts agreed was being infringed on. I know patent litigation is unpopular (and for good reason), but Tivo appeared to be a case where it was Working As Intended.

      We'll see with Microsoft, although the timing is certainly suspect.

      • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:10PM (#30840264)

        But their patents are about as great as amazon one-click. Nothing they did was new or novel enough that it should have been patentable.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Darinbob (1142669)
          The invented the DVR... That's not new or novel?

          Most patents look obvious after the fact, but someone has to be the first to invest their time and money to get there. I bet someone may have considered storing video to hard drive, but that's just one part of the puzzle. The whole pausing and rewinding live TV thing is pretty non-obvious by itself.

          The whole point of a patent is to encourage companies to innovate. Without the patent system no one would have invested money in the proto-Tivo people so they c
    • The same nonsense that allowed Tivo to run amok

      Yeah. I mean, everyone and their brother was making PVR's before TiVo, and it's not like this invaded every single cable company in America or anything, or did anything at all to change how we watch TV as a nation...

      Sorry, but TiVo's a great case of "well-earned Patent." You've just got your panties in a knot over the GPL v3 issue.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        For what?
        Making a VCR with a computer?
        What single thing did they actually come up with?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Lershac (240419)

          Why yes. They did make a VCR with a computer, that also recorded and played back the recording while it was being recorded. And allowed relatively instant access to anywhwere within the video recording. And allowed one to pause live TV, and schedule the recordings intelligently with little hassle, and organize and display those recordings in an easy to use way.

          Oh I see now, its WAY FUCKING BETTER THAN A VCR.

          I have 3 HD Tivos, all lifetime subscription. They are the best entertainment dollar I have ever

          • by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @12:09AM (#30842488)
            Oh I see now, its WAY FUCKING BETTER THAN A VCR.

            Yes, you paid them lots of money so you have to run to their defense, I get it. However, nothing changes the fact that they are a VCR on a computer. Once you have a non-linear medium, the features you mention are obvious. They didn't "invent" anything a 5 year old didn't already think up 20 years ago, they were just the first to use it commercially, so they get copyrights on ideas (when you shouldn't be able to copyright ideas, just specific implementations of them) that are simple, obvious, and often not even new (other than the "on a computer" part).
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Dun Malg (230075)

          For what? Making a VCR with a computer? What single thing did they actually come up with?

          Why don't you read the fucking patent [google.com] instead of just pretending they "patented recording TV with a computer" and getting all uppity "cos dat's bullshit"? Their patent is for their method of event and data buffering that allowed them to record TV on a ridiculously cheap 54mHz system. This is why there were (and are) still non-TiVo DVRs.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        This "well earned patent" basically boils down to the following:

        cat /dev/video0 > tivo-patented-computer-concurrency.mpg &
        mplayer n00bs-fanboys-will-buy-into-anything.mpg

        Once the consumer hardware was in place, anyone that wanted to could
        start cobbling together recorders with spare parts and shell scripts.
        Some people even started with the old cards that didn't do any sort
        of compression. This was tricky since a large hard drive in those
        days was

  • So, now we know how IP War I(tm) opens on Front #1 (Patents).

    There will at sometime be a situation vital to two implacably opposed large opponents, who draw other companies in to the fray for their own interests. They will use Patents to attack. Kind of like all the treaties before WW I drew into two groups, except this will probably be a star configuration, (with the additional bonus of some companies possibly suing others on *both* sides).

    I wonder how Front #2 (Copyright) and Front #3 (Trademark) will f

    • I have no idea how a copyright war would start.

      The copyright war has already started in the United States: Bright Tunes Music v. Harrisongs Music and Three Boys Music v. Michael Bolton. A songwriter accidentally writes a song that matches a song that was played a decade ago, and the publisher of the older song successfully sues for seven-figure damages. How should one play it safe while writing a song in such an environment?

  • Wouldn't this sort of 'buddy system' be illegal, much like price fixing?

  • by DinDaddy (1168147) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:11PM (#30840266)

    My U-verse DVR is so much more usable than a Tivo because of all it's stupendous theft-worthy features.

  • by horatio (127595) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:53PM (#30840710)
    I'm a former AT&T U-Verse customer, and a former TiVo customer. I switched to U-Verse from T/W because TimeWarner refused to provide adequate support for the CableCards they supplied in my TiVo - channels would randomly go missing causing difficulty or programs to record an hour of black. Had TiVo for years and loved it. Always explained it to people that I'm a tech/programmer who spends all day fighting with computers. I loved that I could come home and not fight with my TV (until the cablecards, that is).

    The U-Verse DVR *sucked*. If you pressed the "skip ahead" key at just the wrong interval, it would inexplicably jump to the end of the program with the "do you want to delete this?" prompt. To which I would invariably yell at the DVR "no you dumbass, I just wanted to skip ahead two minutes". The software, frankly was awful in a multitude of ways. I switched to DirecTV, and the DVR software is better, but still stinks compared to TiVo.

    For me as big of a fan as I am of Linux, etc it wasn't about the OS. It was about the user experience. The U-Verse DVR did stupid, unexplainable shit often enough that I cancelled it after a little less than a year.
    • by Lershac (240419)

      Thank jeebus that Cox in Baton Rouge seems to be cable card friendly... I have 3 TIVOs in teh house and am in TV heaven. I rarley watch, but when I do I can watch WHAT I WANT.

    • by tepples (727027)

      I switched to DirecTV

      If you switch your TV to satellite, where do you switch your Internet access? Cable companies like Comcast have a habit of charging Internet subscribers who don't also get cable TV a "line fee" that's coincidentally the same price as locals-only cable TV.

    • The U-Verse DVR did stupid, unexplainable shit often enough that I cancelled it after a little less than a year.

      Let's see. Skip ahead 2 minutes. That sounds like... skipping a commercial block. Which TV companies say is a Bad Thing. Sounds to me like you were being penalized for trying to skip commercials.</conspiracy>

      Just saying.

  • by b4upoo (166390) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:05PM (#30841682)

    Reputation should not matter and each case should go to the courts on its own merits. However Microsoft is an old whore with a wicked, dirty, reputation. Judges and juries have got to go into a Microsoft trial with a bit of an urge to tie a hangman's knot and I don't blame them. Considering the several billions in losses that Microsoft has already received in various trials perhaps they should be shy of the court house and not think about dragging people to trial.

  • i wish someone could explain how tivo avoided being acquired. their user interface is one of the best i've seen, ever. the writing has been on the wall for them for 5 years. the fact that they still exist is a testament to how good of a device it is.

    whoever is in charge of mergers / acquisitions at tivo really, really, dropped the ball. they should have been an acquisition target for every major cable company, AT&T, and every major dish company. it's essentially over for them. every TV providing entity

    • > they couldn't figure out how to be successful.

      That's because they put all their effort into patent suits instead of innovation and/or partnerships

  • I used to work for Kingston Interactive Television and we where one of the first in the world [advanced-television.com] to deliver a working IPTV, EPG & VOD system consumers as a commercial product. We did this in 1999, we won awards, including an EMMA and BAFTA nomination [bbc.co.uk]. Kingston had been researching streaming video over the local loop for at least 10 years prior to that, even testing a narrow-band television system. It was xDSL that made it possible. See KITV in action [youtube.com] on YouTube.

    I designed the VOD & Content management

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