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TiVo Time Warp Judgment Affirmed 107

Posted by timothy
from the when-patents-beat-sense dept.
zapakh writes "A federal appeals court this week upheld a lower court decision that accused DISH Network and EchoStar of continuing to infringe on TiVo patents.' This is a follow-on to a Slashdot story from October. Despite a 'Herculean effort' by EchoStar in redesigning its DVR software, the ruling agrees with the district court that that was not a major redesign of the software. The patent in question is titled 'Multimedia time warping system.' TiVo is pleased with the ruling."
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TiVo Time Warp Judgment Affirmed

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  • Fuck patents. (Score:1, Informative)

    by MrNaz (730548) *

    n/t

  • Dump TiVo for MythTV (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 06, 2010 @08:21AM (#31380038)

    Pinch more pennies and ditch TiVo for MythTV:

    http://www.mythtv.org/ [mythtv.org]

    If you're a geek and don't know about it, check it! We need more devices with MythTV preloaded on them.

    • Does mythtv (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Colin Smith (2679) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @08:40AM (#31380080)

      Automatically search the listings and record stuff I might like? It didn't the last time I looked.

       

      • Some of us are not predictable enough to have things recorded for us by some algorithm, you insensitive clod!

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Wasn't that feature the butt of everyone's jokes at one point?

        OTOH, a simple widely defined wish list is just as effective and probably less likely to generate strange results.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        That is why I like the new Windows 7 Media Center. It automatically downloads the guide every night and any show I want I can right click on and choose "record all" and it will record every time it comes on. Pretty simple to use really, plus the new Internet TV where all the major channels like CBS and FOX online load their programming just like the regular guide is a nice touch. I just picked up a $25 ATI capture USB stick off of Woot! and all was golden. No muss, no fuss, no hassles.

        For those still on X

      • Automatically search the listings and record stuff I might like? It didn't the last time I looked.
        I've had a TiVo since 2003 and never gotten any serious use out of that feature. Even when our second unit, with 215 hours, was new, it only took a couple of weeks to fill so that it never suggested anything, anymore.

        Do you just set fewer season passes (my wife, my son and I each have several set), or do you go out of your way to delete old shows?

      • by ncc74656 (45571) *

        Automatically search the listings and record stuff I might like? It didn't the last time I looked.

        Dunno about you, but that was one of the least-used capabilities on my TiVo. I had it recording enough stuff I specifically told it to record that I didn't really need it grabbing other stuff it might think I'd like, as I'd never get around to watching it. As long as it catches every not-previously-watched episode of whatever it is I want to watch, it's all good...and MythTV's been pretty good at doing that f

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by OzPeter (195038)

      Pinch more pennies and ditch TiVo for MythTV:

      Yes, the MythTV software is free, but how much would you pay for the equivalent TiVo hardware (including remote control) ? I'll go out on a limb and posit that you can't match the TiVo package price for the same form-factor and functionality.

      • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @09:01AM (#31380138) Homepage

        I don't think you're going to convince anyone here.

        TiVo Premiere XL is $499 ,and has about the recording capacity you would expect if you plugged for a middle of the curve HD.
        Now for service. $12.95 per month? How long do I intend to use this thing? Let's go for $399 which is for "life of the box" and assume that Tivo never go out of business.

        So I get $898 to play with. I need to spend a premium on quiet gear, and slimline cases, PSU etc. Then I can keep it forever, upgrade incrementally, and all the geek chicks will want to come to my place to admire my e-penis.

        Not a difficult choice.

        • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @09:09AM (#31380162) Homepage

          But wait, there's more.

          TiVo want $59.99 for wifi. You're going to want wifi FFS!
          Then you will want a range of fanboi merchandise such as the $9.99 Tivo plush, $14.99 TiVo Folding Chair for watching your Tivo, $24.99 TiVo Slippers because you're not leaving the house.

          Finally at $24.99, the TiVo Duffle bag is large enough to bag up all this shit, take it to the dump, and realise what you really wanted was the MythTV with geek chick gang-bang.

        • by OzPeter (195038)

          So I get $898 to play with. I need to spend a premium on quiet gear, and slimline cases, PSU etc. Then I can keep it forever, upgrade incrementally, and all the geek chicks will want to come to my place to admire my e-penis.

          Not a difficult choice.

          I'm curious, how is your cablecard support done in this solution?

          • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @09:28AM (#31380242) Homepage

            Cablecard? Is that some sort of DRM device? I'm not familiar with US cable TV.

            I have a DVB-S PCI card for UK Freeview. There are currently no Freesat cards on the market, but I'll grab one when they become available. Freesat is unencrypted so I don't have to worry about that.

            • by OzPeter (195038)

              Cablecard? Is that some sort of DRM device?

              Yes it is a DRM device. Although cable companies seem to be trying to kill it. It is basically a roughly PCMCIA sized card that slots into a (non cable company owned) device for decoding "premium" digital cable streams. Where "premium" basically means anything from the cable company.

              • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

                by sakdoctor (1087155)

                Ok I read up a bit on wikipedia.

                It's a Conditional-access module. Is it roughly pcmcia sized, or actually a pcmcia card?
                Freesat specifies a pcmcia slot for CAM, as well as an ethernet port for future use among other things.

                If you scroll right to the bottom of the EPG, there are a few ghetto channels that need a CAM, but I can't imagine anyone caring about that.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by OzPeter (195038)

                  there are a few ghetto channels that need a CAM, but I can't imagine anyone caring about that.

                  If you are a cable company in the US then you care a lot about people stealing your product. And while by law they have to distribute the free to air channels (maybe 10 or so channels) via cable for a nominal fee ($15/mo in my case - which represents the entry cost into getting cable TV), my provider (Comcast) only does that in SD. If I want to see those channels in HD I need to either sell my soul to Comcast or have a CableCard enabled device. I could theoretically get HD over the air, but my local geog

                  • by Macrat (638047)

                    If you are a cable company in the US then you care a lot about people stealing your product. And while by law they have to distribute the free to air channels (maybe 10 or so channels) via cable for a nominal fee ($15/mo in my case - which represents the entry cost into getting cable TV), my provider (Comcast) only does that in SD. If I want to see those channels in HD I need to either sell my soul to Comcast or have a CableCard enabled device. I could theoretically get HD over the air, but my local geography is such that I wouldn't get decent reception from the transmitters.

                    I guess you consider the "Basic Digital" to be selling your soul.

                    I'm on Comcast and I don't have any CableCard or Comcast boxes. I just plug in my EyeTV and get the regular networks ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS, CW and various independent feeds in HD. Only the cable networks are in SD.

                    • by OzPeter (195038)

                      Because I do not watch 90% of the cable channels I opted for "Limited Service". Under that service level, networks shows are only available in SD (Although Fios actually has them in HD for the equivalent price) .

                      Oops I just realized that I misremembered the need for CableCard - it is to do with the fact that while Comcast does transmit network shows in HD in Basic Cable, Tivo can't see the advanced programming information for those channels unless you have a CableCard. From what I understand this is a tec

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by click2005 (921437) *

              There are currently no Freesat cards on the market, but I'll grab one when they become available.

              http://www.hauppauge.co.uk/site/products/data_novahds2.html [hauppauge.co.uk]

              I bought one about 6 months ago but never got around to installing it (no dish).

              Freesat is unencrypted so I don't have to worry about that.

              I think the BBC is planning to encrypt their HD broadcasts. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/sep/29/bbc-hd-encryption [guardian.co.uk]

          • by jedidiah (1196)

            You don't bother with cablecard. You record HD channels directly and don't bother with any of the side effects of DRM.

            That means I never have to worry about whether or not a DRM flag will prevent me from watching a show in the bedroom.

            That sort of setup is nothing new to Tivo.

          • by supun (613105)

            It doesn't.

            Most US cable boxes have firewire, which by law should be enabled, which will allow you to record over the air channels, including local HD. However if you wanted to record HD HBO, you have to spend more for some really experimental equipment. Pretty much all of the non-over air, over 100/analog, are 5C encrypted. Basically you need a HD PVR to connect to your STD's component out. If you don't have component out, then you need to get a DVI to component converter (cheap). If you only have HDMI,

          • by ncc74656 (45571) *

            I'm curious, how is your cablecard support done in this solution?

            Don't need it...a FireWire cable from the MythTV box to the cable box grabs every channel to which I'm subscribed. I also have a digital tuner and two analog tuners available, which can record a subset of available channels; they grab enough that scheduling conflicts usually don't happen. I might be able to replace the tuners with a second cable box, but that would involve another $10 per month and I'm not 100% sure MythTV can record from tw

        • by OzPeter (195038)
          Forgot to add .. wives don't care about e-penises
        • by CODiNE (27417)

          So you get all your scheduling data free with MythTV? Forever?

          • Yes.

            Well no, I have to pay the BBC licence fee, but MythTV can extract EPG data.

          • That's not really the problem with MythTV. In some countries the scheduling data is completely free, in others, such as the US, you can get low quality crap scheduling info for free or pay a relatively small amount (compared to TiVo) to get higher quality scheduling information. As my Myth set up is not my primary DVR, I use a combination of the free OTA EPG information (urgh) and the XMLTV DirecTV feed (which is free but lacks some critical information preventing you from avoiding recording repeats, etc),

            • by russotto (537200)

              No, the problem with Myth is that it's just awful. Configuration is a PITA, the various UIs all have largely the same faults, you need to hunt around for documentation to find out simple stuff like what keys do what, you get cryptic error messages, and my experience of the developers thus far (albeit it was one developer, but apparently he was typical of the group) was extremely negative, with the team being defensive and, actually, rather proud of the fact that the product is barely usable.

              Yes, configura

        • by am 2k (217885)

          As usual with FOSS, your plan only adds up when your time is worth nothing.

          • If the amount of time it would take to set up a MythTV box exceeds the equivalent of $900, then it is not a wise decision if your goal is saving money.

            If not, then you can buy a TiVo. Which of course is based on Linux, so it's a FOSS solution anyway.
          • by shentino (1139071)

            With FOSS, letting the world improve the source provides immense leverage potential.

        • Now for service. $12.95 per month?
          DirecTivo service only went up from $5 to $6 over the basic DirecTV rate a year or two ago. I suppose they could charge more for the HD when it comes out (supposed to be sometime this year), but the basic satellite rate is already higher for HD.

    • as alot of people need that.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Sat TV doesn't use cablecards.

        So that means that no Tivo will be able to record the HD channels off of Dish or DirecTV.

        MythTV and Sage can. Tivo can't.

        PC based solutions support more tuner options than Tivo does. More countries too.

        • by nabsltd (1313397)

          So that means that no Tivo will be able to record the HD channels off of Dish or DirecTV.

          None of the normal TiVo boxes will record HD from DirecTV, but the HR10-250 can record HD from DirecTV.

          Until they converted many of their channels to MPEG-4 only, it really was a perfect "it just works" device, and is still light-years ahead of the new DirecTV branded DVRs in terms of reliablity and features (and still does a better job with OTA HD than MythTV).

          There is supposed to be a new version that supports the MPEG-4 channels coming soon...hopefully it won't be too expensive, because the TiVo UI and r

    • by pongo000 (97357) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @01:40PM (#31381698)

      Pinch more pennies and ditch TiVo for MythTV:

      http://www.mythtv.org/ [mythtv.org]

      If you're a geek and don't know about it, check it! We need more devices with MythTV preloaded on them.

      After several years of MythTV, the final straw was the removal of device support for my PVR-350. My time is simply worth more than the 20+ hours I probably spent over the years upgrading my MythTV box, hand-building device drivers, and dealing with other issues such as loss of audio.

      If you value your time, I would suggest MythTV is not for you. I finally retired the box and got a 3-tuner DVR [moxi.com]. Proprietary? Yes. (Actually, Linux under the cover, but good luck hacking it.) But it works consistently.

    • by shentino (1139071)

      How long will it take TiVo to use this decision as a hammer agaiinst MythTV?

  • Frankly, this strikes me as just more evidence of how broken the patent system is. TFA is just a blurb, here it is:

    A federal appeals court this week upheld a lower court decision that accused DISH Network and EchoStar of continuing to infringe on TiVo patents.

    EchoStar did not significantly alter its digital video recorder (DVR) software in order to comply with an injunction, according to a Thursday decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

    The battle dates back to 2004, when TiVo

    • by kfsone (63008)

      Read the patent itself and not just the abstract, and frankly it strikes me as a case of the patent system actually working, for a change. The patent system is broken and needs fixing, but this isn't a case in point.

  • What is a TV? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Hurricane78 (562437)

    The 80s called. They want their mass medium back!

  • by Deorus (811828) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @08:34AM (#31380060)

    But I kinda recall doing that with my VHS, which had a button on the remote specifically designed to disable its transmitter thus allowing me to watch other TV channels as it recorded a specific channel back in 1990... How come this wasn't used to invalidate the patent?

    • I would hope their "time warping" has something that separates it from doing it with VHS, specifically in the patent. Otherwise, I don't get how the USPTO didn't think about the VHS days when they let the patent by...

      someone else is probably better than me at finding the patent in question... and I'm just too damn tired at this point to care.

      • by zapakh (1256518)

        someone else is probably better than me at finding the patent in question... and I'm just too damn tired at this point to care.

        It's linked [google.com]! I linked [google.com] to it!

        Granted, since I'm not actually going to read it, I wonder if a MythTV box would infringe?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by clang_jangle (975789)
      Probably because this patent had the phrase "using a computer ". :(
      • Ah, but how does the VHS recorder keep track of time and channel information, in order to record those shows? Hmmm? Hmmm? I'll bet there's an embedded processor, aka, a computer, in there, isn't there! (And yes, even something as archaic and simple as an RCA 1802 counts)
        • by jedidiah (1196)

          There were VCRs that did this with barcodes back in the day. You would scan them in from TV Guide.

          This was a feature in the last generation or so of VCRs before the tech was eclipsed.

    • by 91degrees (207121)
      Firstly, because it does a different thing (this is about watching a recording while recording, not watching live TV while recording), secondly it does it in a different way. Patents are for implementations. The title is just a description.
      • by jbengt (874751)

        Patents are for implementations. The title is just a description.

        I read claim 1, and many of the following claims, but gave up because I could not find anything that could help anyone wanting to implement the idea of inputting and outputting different streams at the same time. IMO, this is a patent of an idea, not of an implementation, and should be invalid.

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        Of course, the duel deck VCRs could watch a recording and record something different at the same time.
        • by 91degrees (207121)
          I'm sure they could, but they achieved this in a completely different way. The patent is on the implementation, not the problem.
          • by Belial6 (794905)
            So, what was the implementation? I also happen to know that ATI was selling All-In-Wonder cards before the Tivo, and they could record and playback at the same time.
            • by 91degrees (207121)
              I have absolutely no idea how specific the patent is but the patent is freely available online, so if you are that interested, you can look it up.

              As another person pointed out, if it was prior art, I'm sure the lawyers would have found it and one of the two courts would have agreed with them.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by dj961 (660026)

      From the patent, in the prior art section "However, a VCR cannot both capture and play back information at the same time."
      While your button allowed you to watch and record, you couldn't rewind and record at the same time, which is what the patent claims. Things like instant replay are impossible with a VCR.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jmorris42 (1458) *

        > Things like instant replay are impossible with a VCR.

        True, but all of the TIVO patents fall out as a self evident use of a non-linear storage medium like a hard drive. They didn't invent ANYTHING. They didn't invent computerized video capture, they didn't even exist when MPEG was standardized and they didn't create the all in one encoder/decoder chips they used. I saw ALL of that in the early 1990's when I first saw a video capture board in use, it was only a matter of having big enough hard drives

      • That's an incremental and obvious improvement based on new technology, not something that should've ever been considered "non-obvious" enough to be patentable.

        That aside from the fact that software should never be patentable in any case, for the reason of scenarios exactly like this. These "Now done ON A COMPUTER!" patents are extremely disruptive, in most cases.

    • by kfsone (63008)

      No, you're not getting it right. "TimeWarp" refers to TiVo's ability to let you pause/rewind either the show being recorded or live tv. In effect, both are being recorded, but TiVO devised - and described in some depth in the full patent - a way to interact with both recording streams.

      Say the live TV show pans out to be rubbish and you now want to watch the show you were recording? With a VCR you can either watch it live as it records, or you have to stop the recording to rewind.

      With a TiVo (et al), you can

  • I'm so glad the system in the UK is different. We have a whole raft of time warping products available including the excellent Sky+. Now, i'm sure there are patents on much of the technology, thus protecting companies IP and encouraging innovation, however people are very free to come up with the same idea but implemented in a different way, or buy a licence and save on development costs and time. It's like Dyson and the hoover. The patent is on the cyclone technology, not on "the ability to suck dust up o
  • by Greyfox (87712)
    I hope the judgment comes in the form of ass cancer for the entire company so that the blight that is EchoStar will, slowly and painfully, be wiped from the face of the planet.
  • With all those references to MPEG in the patent, couldn't they simply use Ogg Theora (or some other codec) to circumvent the patent?

    The quoted patent does not seem overly broad to me (there's hardly an inventive step involved, but that's another matter). Are there other patents EchoStar is infringing?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by russotto (537200)

      With all those references to MPEG in the patent, couldn't they simply use Ogg Theora (or some other codec) to circumvent the patent?

      Probably not as a practical matter. For ATSC (and DVB), the stream comes in as MPEG, which would mean you'd have to transcode to use another codec.

      Interestingly, MythTV doesn't seem to infringe this patent. The essential claims have steps where the streams are disassembled into video and audio, stored, and re-assembled on playback. MythTV doesn't work this way; it stores the

      • by zapakh (1256518)

        I'm not sure why EchoStar couldn't use a similar technique; unfortunately, it's possible that the courts interpret the patent broadly and figure that difference doesn't matter.

        Such an interpretation seems probable. From the fine ruling, as linked from TFA (look for "2. Infringement of the '389 Patent"), emphasis mine:

        EchoStar argues that because TiVo failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the redesigned devices infringe, it is not in contempt of the infringement portion of the injunction. ...[A]t the very list, the claim limitation "parses video and audio data from said broadcast data" is not met by its new software. It argues that the district court improperly found infringement based on the simple fact that the software includes a PID filter [a mechanism designed to distinguish between various television programs] that parses some data. The filter, however, EchoStar argues, looks only at the header of a data packet, not the payload where the video and audio are contained. Therefore, EchoStar urges, its modified software does not parse any audio and video data.

        TiVo responds that the district could has previously construed the term "parses" broadly to mean "analyzes," a construction that has never been challenged, and all that is required for the modified software to meet this limitation is a component that analyzes video and audio data. TiVo argues that EchoStar's attempt to differentiate header data from the packet payload is improper because both are part of an MPEG packet, and the whole packet is video and audio data. Moreover, TiVo argues that experts for both sides testified at trial that PID filtering meets the parsing limitation under the court's claim construction.

        The ruling is a great read, and great fodder for at least one aspect of what is wrong with software patents, even when they verge on hardware. EchoStar provides a DVR feature that is found to infringe a patent. In response to an injunction, EchoStar implements around the infringing idea by doing something it called "Indexless DVR". Now they're found in contempt o

        • by russotto (537200)

          The court clearly didn't understand the language. They accepted the idea that because Echostar refers to PID filtering as "parsing", they were admitting that PID filtering was "parsing video and audio data". Which is just wrong; the video and audio data are at a different level of abstraction from the container which was being parsed. The court simply doesn't understand the word "parsing" and uses it as if it has some universal meaning outside the context of what is being parsed.

          It doesn't help that what

      • It's likely that they don't want to store the butt tons of mpeg-2 video without compressing the streams first.
  • So their patent is based on the ability to record one video stream while watching something else? Multi-tasking isn't exactly rocket science; computers have been doing it for decades. Furthermore, you could accomplish the same "time warping" effect as far back as the 1970s without even using a computer; all you needed was a VCR and an RF splitter.

    IMO TiVo should not have been awarded this patent in the first place; it is yet another example of how the patent system in this country is broken.

    • by ^_^x (178540)

      I agree. While the patent is quite specific on how it's done, the process itself is inevitable the moment you no longer use a strictly linear recording medium. I wonder if MythTV will also be nailed for this? (I've only used EchoStar receivers, but I assume Myth must have this feature too as it's really basic...)

  • by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @05:09PM (#31383466)

    To anyone who thinks TiVo's patent is trivial: go read it.

    Implementing simultaneous recording and playback, with quick seeking to any point in the stream, and doing so with a very low-cost system (in TiVo's case, originally a 50MHz PowerPC) is not at all trivial.

    There's more than one way to implement such functionality in hardware, but TiVo found a way that was cheap and effective before Echostar did, and Echostar didn't bother to license TiVo's patent or find another method.

    • by kfsone (63008)

      The "blurb", as people are referring to it, is just the abstract from the patent. Scroll down and view the 23-page PDF describing in fairly exacting detail how their specific methodology works.

      And for those saying "I could do it on my VCR": no, you couldn't pause live TV on your VCR while recording a show on a different channel.

      The patent actually covers how TiVo splits up the separate components of the incoming sources (Video, Audio, CC, etc), and buffers them up without having to decode the MPEG stream of

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