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Tivo Gets $215 Million Patent Settlement From AT&T

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  • DVR Patent Wars (Score:3, Informative)

    by masternerdguy (2468142) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @11:25AM (#38585100)
    Doesn't matter since there won't be traditional TV in 10 years.
    • I cancelled my cable years ago and watch all shows online. I do occasionally turn on my TV to catch an NHL game on CBC (OTA). Other than that my TV has become a nice 32" monitor.
      • by tepples (727027)

        I do occasionally turn on my TV to catch an NHL game on CBC (OTA).

        I was under the impression that games carried on CBC in Canada are more likely to be carried on cable in the United States.

    • by Tharsman (1364603)

      Oh nohes!!! Where am I going to play my Atari 2600 then?!?!?!?

    • Is this what it takes to get modded informative? Here let me try:

      "In 10 years we'll be watching everything streamed and the cable industry will have failed to keep up."

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        In ten years we'll have flying cars, politicians will start being honest, and the top industry will be entertainment with no one actually logging off to go to work.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It is sad that you feel that way. I have powerfully disappointed with the sound and picture quality of online TV. digital off air or even cable looks so much better. It always amazes me that people will spend tons of money for a big, high resolution, display, and then watch horribly compressed video on it.

    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      Doesn't matter since there won't be traditional TV in 10 years.

      Highly doubtful. Will there still be a way to get shows *WITHOUT* commercials?

      If not, then I won't do the "watch online" (or equivalent), except for RARE occasions (yes, ironically, when a cable glitch or something else made me miss a show).

      Plus, even with the equivalent of "netflix streaming with current network/cable shows", I lose the ability to download to my computer, which I can do for all but premium channels. (On a Tivo.)

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Wishful thinking. TVs last longer than ten years so there's still going to be a demand. Broadband coverage in most countries, including the US, is relatively low and always expensive. Many people are still using broadcast. Don't be so hasty to write off something that still works just because you got a tablet for xmas. You may be right though that there won't be traditional TV for young urban self absorbed technophiles though.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      In ten years, we won't need roads.

  • Great for Tivo. Will they just partner up with DirecTV again? They had just about the perfect combination of DVR and service (Tivo DVR + directly recording the digital stream). Every other DVR I've used is a poor imitation. Tivo partnering up again has been teased about for years, but it all comes up to naught.
      • by Kagato (116051)

        Indeed, they are back in action. But the DirecTivo is a sad sad device. While it has a nice interface, but is missing many features that the current DirecTV DVRs have. Most notably, the Home Media Option that allows the DVR to share programs with other STBs on the Coax.

        • by tgibbs (83782)

          To me, the Home Media Option is kind of a nice "extra" feature that isn't worth nearly as much to me as access to the TiVo interface. I've used a number of the generic TiVo clones and have always been disappointed. Rarely used features do not make up for problems in an interface that I use every day. So I'm looking forward to the new DirecTiVo

          • by djrobxx (1095215)

            I think Kagato meant the Whole Home DVR option which allows DVRs to stream recorded content from each other (in a peer-to-peer fashion). It's extremely useful, and I couldn't dream of going back to TiVo without it. My two DirecTV DVRs "merge" their playlists together and act like a 1TB, 4 tuner DVR. It gives much more purpose to our bedroom DVR that saw light usage before this feature was available, and I don't need to worry about conflicts during prime time.

            DirecTV's DVRs are really pretty good. T

            • by tgibbs (83782)

              Has DirecTV come up with anything to match TiVo's Wishlists yet? I use this feature far more extensively than sharing between TiVo's

              • by jedidiah (1196)

                That is a recording rule that's based off of some sort of keyword search and is not restricted to a show on a particular channel.

                Something like...

                          select * from programs where actor='Clint Eastwood';

                or

                        select * from programs where title like '%Galactica%';

                My personal favorite is having rules split up between current seasons and old ones. Dunno if DTV or Tivo can handle that.

                • by tgibbs (83782)

                  It is easy to set up a TiVo WishList to record only new shows. There is no canned option to record only repeats, but you could set up a WishList with the keyword "Repeat" &/or the particular year(s).

        • by mattack2 (1165421)

          Sure, it's currently vaporware, but supposedly there will eventually be a non-DVR box to do _streaming_ from existing Tivos, which gets past the copy protection issue at least for the "watch shows in another room" scenario. The streaming ability will be added to existing Premiere-level Tivos too.

          (I do not know if this will work for the new DirecTivos.. I would expect it would.)

      • Yep, I did miss it. Not in my market yet anyway. I don't do the sharing with other devices in the house, and I'm willing to pay the premium.
    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Ya, this is why I'm not switching to anything else despite DirecTV prices approaching that of cable. Still have my Tivo combo; not as great as a standalone Tivo because of hollywood pressures (ie, can't download to computer, the usb port on the back is a no-op) but definitely highly usable and better than any alternative I've seen.

      • by Hulfs (588819)

        I thought that myself too and that was one of the reasons I held out to SD over HD content w/ DirecTV for so long. I bit the bullet in October and got the DirecTV HD DVR. There's only 2 things I've found that it can't do that the DirecTivo could do. Suggestions (which is something I think is patented by Tivo - and I didn't actually use) and undeleting shows from your recorded list you've deleted. There might be more, but they'd be things which I don't miss and the DirectTV DVR does quite a few more thing

    • by msobkow (48369)

      I agree whole-heartedly. When I bought a TiVO for DirecTV service while living and working in Delaware, it fundamentally changed the way I watched TV. No more schedules, no more advertising (click 5 times and wait a few seconds), and I always had something available that I wanted to watch.

      Torrent downloads have provided the same functionality back in Canada. I look on downloading as a big time-shifting VCR which just happens to use no tapes, but the end result is the same -- I watch what I want, when

  • ...Tivo will receive the minimum sum of $215 million over six years...

    Tivo still thinks they'll be around in six years?

    • by tverbeek (457094)

      People have been predicting the imminent demise of TiVo for longer than that.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by spire3661 (1038968)
        If cableCARD support dies, TiVO is toast. Time-Warner already sets every channel to 'never copy' so a Tivo is all but useless on their service. Tivo's fate is now tied to CableCARD and all indictors point to all the cable companies moving everything to 'copy once' or 'copy never' which to a Tivo means 'dont record'

        I am actually calling tivo today to cancel my service and pay the pro-rate for the rest of my first year of contract. I bought it and a HDHomeRun Prime at the same time and the HDHomerun with a
        • by djrobxx (1095215)

          If TiVo can't record due to the "Copy never" flag, I suspect you'll run into the same problem with your HDHomeRun Prime and Windows 7. It's been a very long road getting encrypted digital TV into Media Center; I suspect MS plays by the rules.

        • by Scott Wood (1415)

          I use a cablecard Tivo with Time Warner in Austin, and don't see this. They do set a lot of things (sometimes quite randomly) to what I assume is copy-once, which makes multi-room viewing mostly useless, but does not inhibit recording and playback on one DVR.

        • by powerlord (28156)

          Oddly I went the other way.

          I got tired of flakey service from my Cable company (TimeWarner), where they had to send a tech out four times in a month, and decided to fire them and keep the TiVo.

          Since the changeover to digital signals, I've got a better signal than before (in one of the largest, but traditionally worst OTA markets).

          Now getting TV exclusively from Over The Air signals, Hulu, and Amazon Video downloads.
          Could throw in NetFlix too, and I'd still be paying less than I used to.
          Just dropping Cable,

    • One office, two staff members, to receive a commercial income of at least $35Million a year. Sure they will be around in six years.

      Maybe not with an actual product, but they *will* be around.

  • I've always liked TiVo products - I've bought a number of them over the years (my mom loves it!). I was one of those who "won" a Series 1 way back when; their system screwed up an awarded almost everyone who entered a free TiVo.

    But TiVo as a company has always worried me; their stock has generally been week; and they haven't really innovated much beyond the original DVR.

    OK, it's cool that they have a 4-tuner model, but how many times do I really have that many conflicts? Especially with today's cable networ

  • by clinko (232501) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @11:39AM (#38585256) Homepage Journal

    After years of tivo ownership i've come to the conclusion that TiVo's future is based on their patents.

    So far they've released 2 new model TiVos that are no faster than their model built and designed right around windows 95.

    They haven't even looked at the competition to see what works on other DVRS. (they got pnp 2 years ago. The guide still doesn't show if a show is recording)

    The kicker: if my TiVo dies, I have a monthly contract with TiVo that I have to cancel. This is when they try to upsell you to their slower "new" model.

    The average TiVo owner is tech savy. Savy enough to know that TiVo gave up on their hardware and is concentrating on other means of income (see parent/patent article).

    • by Monoman (8745)

      Tivo has always used older hardware as a means to cut costs. Lifetime subscriptions is the way to go if you like the product.I know they didn't have them for a while but I am under the impression that they sell them again. It may seem pricey but ours more than paid for themselves.

      Tivo should have focused on licensing their tech from the beginning.

    • by jandrese (485)
      The advantage of the TiVo over your cable company's DVR is that you can get the lifetime subscription for your TiVo. My Series 2 TiVo was expensive up front, but I've saved quite a bit of money with it now compared to paying the monthly fee to the cable company.
      • by PRMan (959735)
        Actually, I paid for Lifetime DVR service (for TiVo) on DirecTV about a decade ago. They still don't charge me for DVRs, even though I have DirecTV DVRs now.
    • by tgibbs (83782)

      So far they've released 2 new model TiVos that are no faster than their model built and designed right around windows 95.

      Huh? TiVo is Unix based. And I have a Model III and a Model II, and the Model III is substantially faster.

  • by HeckRuler (1369601) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @11:41AM (#38585272)
    An obsolete company takes a bite out of an evil company using a bullshit process.

    Big news I guess, but I'm extremely meh on this one as I'm apethetic about all the players, technologies, and issues at hand.
    • by Elbereth (58257)

      Preach it, brother. Or don't. It's not like I care.

  • What they need to do is make the cost of licensing the Tivo UI and scheduler to be roughly the same as the annual pay-out for the patent royalties. Still If AT&T has paid out, I wonder who's next?

  • by penguinoid (724646) <spambait001@yahoo.com> on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @12:06PM (#38585568) Homepage Journal

    I won't be paying for cable TV, nor will any of my brothers. If the cable companies don't adapt and fast, they will die out with our parent generation. It's not so much that they're using the wrong technology, but rather that a similar but cheaper option is available. Internet can just as easily do phone, radio, and TV as well generic data. Adapt or die, content providers.

    • by jcheezem (96097)

      But you'll still be paying your cable company - since I'm sure thats where your internet access comes from...

      • by Ichijo (607641)

        But you'll still be paying your cable company - since I'm sure thats where your internet access comes from...

        Yes, I'm paying the cable company $45 per month now instead of $140 per month.

    • by Idbar (1034346)
      I wonder who to you get your internet service from... I've been looking around and all of them are Cable companies. It doesn't matter I don't have cable service, I'm still paying them for [Internet] service.
  • by AtariDatacenter (31657) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @01:08PM (#38586304)

    My latest... no, my last purchase of a TiVo was the Premier with lifetime service. The unit is riddled with bugs.

    I never expect them to get the second CPU core enabled. It is short of RAM. It bogs down. It ignores the remote for a while when you sit back down in front of the couch (which I suspect is because the OS swap out the remote control's handler process during a memory shortage). It crashes. It has a bare-bones Netflix interface that likes to crash. The high definition user interface is STILL incomplete, with many screens dropping back down to standard definition. The Amazon Video interface can't do free Prime movies. Only purchases. The non-discrete directional buttons on the remote makes for regular menu selection mistakes. If your Internet connection goes down, your locked out of much of the unit's functionality until you return.

    I could go on and on about all the problems with their product. And I see that other people have their own observations. TiVo isn't in the game of producing a product/service that consumers want. We are actually just what they're selling. Collecting eyeballs for add space. And then adding bullet points for new features with minimal functionality and playing the patent race game.

    Admittedly, the only good thing to come out of them recently was the iPad TiVo remote control. Nicely done. But then, they weren't doing it for their customers, I'm sure, as much as they were trying to beef up their patent portfolio, probably vs Apple.

    If TiVo dies tomorrow, I won't be sad. I'll go back to the cable company's DVR and I'd enjoy it. Having all the pre-paid hardware and service is the only thing keeping me holding on. TiVo once put the customer first, but they lost sight of us. Too bad. These days, TiVo owners don't make great evangelists for their product.

    • by jj00 (599158)
      Tivo is no longer customer-focused, their new customers are corporations. I've stopped hoping that someone would buy them and add some life, apparently no one thinks they're worth it. The fact is they're not much but a wet noodle anymore.
    • by mkraft (200694)

      >> I never expect them to get the second CPU core enabled.

      I stopped reading after this since if you actually had a TiVo Premiere you'd know the second core was enabled in the 14.9 software update.

      As for your other issues: crashes, hanging, etc, I have a Premiere and have rarely if ever seen anything like that.

      • by _xeno_ (155264)

        I stopped reading after this since if you actually had a TiVo Premiere you'd know the second core was enabled in the 14.9 software update.

        What update? I don't think my TiVo Premiere has ever received a software update.

        Or if it has, it's certainly never bothered mentioning it or displaying a changelog, so it's not like I'd know anything about it.

        As for your other issues: crashes, hanging, etc, I have a Premiere and have rarely if ever seen anything like that.

        Really? Go to Settings, DVR Diagnostics. Enjoy.

      • I would probably only know that the second core had finally been enabled for non-UI tasks if I had read an unofficial changelog (because TiVo does not produce one) in an unofficial TiVo forum. I believe you mean here:

        http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?t=480226 [tivocommunity.com]

        I will disregard your underlying message that missing an announcement that never came from TiVo nor actively pursuing an unofficial TiVo forum signifies that one does not actually own a TiVo. That's fanboy behavior. I do, however, cong

    • by _xeno_ (155264)

      If your Internet connection goes down, your locked out of much of the unit's functionality until you return.

      Including watching previously recorded shows.

      Yep. That's cute. If your Internet connection goes down, about the only functionality left is viewing the Network Settings menu.

      Of course, when I tried to do that, the unit hard-crashed and I had to unplug it and restart it, and after rebooting, it finally properly reconnected to the wired network that had never gone down.

      Admittedly, the only good thing to come out of them recently was the iPad TiVo remote control. Nicely done.

      You haven't tried using it much, have you? The TiVo remote control program for iOS is a giant piece of shit. It's a far better UI than the TiVo

      • Too bad I don't have mod points here. You hit quite a number of points dead-on.

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        The sad thing is that I'm pretty sure the TiVo is still the best DVR available. My mom has a DVR she gets through Verizon, and it's a complete piece of shit, where as the TiVo is only mostly shit.

        It's really kind of sad, because if they only put a little bit of effort into bug fixes and polishing their interface, they could have a really system. But they just don't care.

        Yup, this is why I moved to MythTV. I won't say that it is completely bug-free and it is tricky to set up, but now when something goes wrong I have half a chance of being able to fix it myself. The videos are just mpeg files (well, unless you transcode them - for some bizarre reason mythtv still uses NUV for that and the player is REALLY picky about keyframes). Once you get it working it pretty-much runs without a hitch.

    • Hear hear. I've been a customer of TiVo's continuously since 1999. When one of our two TiVo HD units recently broke, I didn't buy a Premiere ... I bought a used HD with Lifetime. I refuse to buy another box from TiVo until the second CPU on the Premiere is enabled ... which was promised TWO YEARS AGO and never delivered. I asked @TivoDesign on Twitter about this recently, and her reply was "Working on it". With $200M more money in the bank, maybe they can work on it a little harder now. But I'm bettin
  • Now if they can just resolve the CCI-bit issues, those of us that are Tivo users will once again be happy. Cable companies are exploiting customers by not allowing DVR devices to transfer in-between them (CCI-bit 0x02) and cite federal laws for doing so. And yet, they ignore those federal rules in order to offer identical multi [brighthouse.com]-room [timewarnercable.com]-viewing [cox.com] products.
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Now if they can just resolve the CCI-bit issues, those of us that are Tivo users will once again be happy. Cable companies are exploiting customers by not allowing DVR devices to transfer in-between them (CCI-bit 0x02) and cite federal laws for doing so. And yet, they ignore those federal rules in order to offer identical multi-room-viewing products.

      Loopholes, actually.

      TiVo is forced to oblige to the CableLabs rules regarding CableCARD, which includes the "do not copy" bit.

      Cable providers can claim their se

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Of course going with an old school S1 style approach would make far too much sense. They could bypass this problem entirely. This would also give them a solution for Satellite cable.

        While something like a DirecTivo is nice in theory, the last iteration of this idea was in many ways inferior to the standard Tivo of the time.

        • by unitron (5733)

          Let's see, the Series 1, standard definition, not high definition (seems to matter to some people), was analog broadcast, not digital, analog cable, not digital, officially couldn't connect to your home network, and you couldn't even officially use TiVo Desktop to back up non-flagged shows to computer with it, nor copy shows from one S1 to another over the network.

          I'm not seeing the S1 as the solution.

          Of course if you mean the S1 taking no notice of the CCI byte, well that's because it didn't do digital cab

  • by Lashat (1041424) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @02:17PM (#38587098)

    In this day and age of overly broad patents and frivolous lawsuits, this case decision is actually justified.

    TiVo was THE first to develop and market the DVR way back when it you would "TiVo" your favorite shows instead of using that piece of modern archeology called a VCR. Soon after TiVo's initial success, the knock-off competitiors really diminished the TiVo's success.

    I even like that they get a bump in cash payments when AT&T gets more subscribers.

    Now if some company would come along and make it easy for me to off load my recordings to my personal harddisk we would have fully replaced the VCRs capabilities. I hate losing my recordings if my STB goes out and simple storage expansion would be nice.

    • There is no justice in an unjust law being enforced.

      If Tivo was quickly "harmed" by "knockoffs", then that is because their "invention" is a pretty simple concept really that's easy to replicate once you have been exposed to the idea.

      Patents were never meant to enforce a monopoly on such things.

      • by Lashat (1041424)

        Sorry. I disagree that all patent law is unjust.

        Your assesment of "easy to replicate" is unsound. It takes massive amounts of engineering and execution to get past the concept stage.

        I agree patents were never meant to enfoce a monopoly on such things, but they are meant to protect a new player (TiVo) who enters the market with a new idea from being unfairly steamrolled out of the market by larger established competitiors (AT&T, Dish, Echostar, Verizon).

        Give it a rest. Some parts of the patent system

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          > Your assesment of "easy to replicate" is unsound.

          The fact that you are an ignorant layman doesn't mean the rest of us in the field don't recognize it for what it is.

          It's a PC with some specialized hardware and some nice software.

          It derives it's interesting attributes from the fact that it is a PC applied to the problem of being a VCR. What little extra value Tivo might have provided with some proprietary bits of hardware that helped deal with the state of tech in the 90s is long since obsolete.

          Hard dri

          • by Lashat (1041424)

            Your unfounded and just plain wrong personal attacks on me, don't offer any futher support of your position. In addition, your statements concerning TiVo's "extra value" and "proprietary" hardware seem to ignore the key point that they did in fact advance the technology past the point where it was previously. They made it easy for the mass population to digitally record broadcasting. That is innovation much in the same vein as Apple has done with MP3 players.

            Your attempts to divide the entire population

            • by jedidiah (1196)

              > Your unfounded and just plain wrong personal attacks on me

              Are entirely justified based on your characterization of both Tivo and patent law in general.

              I don't think you fully understand the implications of a 17 year innovation crippling monopoly.

              • by Lashat (1041424)

                Again, I like how you stick to the flaming and avoid any useful information to support your arguements.

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          > It takes massive amounts of engineering and execution to get past the concept stage.

          This is simply not a valid excuse for a patent.

          Tivo gets a free pass on this nonsense because some people are "fans" of the product. This crap shouldn't be excused regardless who does it.

          Frankly, any Tivo user should be seriously concerned about the corporate culture behind this kind of activity and what it might mean for the actual product.

    • by PRMan (959735)
      Actually, ReplayTV was first, but TiVo had several innovations in their second version that made it better than ReplayTV.
  • Does this mean non-AT&T branded TiVo remotes will now be able to carry a Standby button and users not have to use Slow Up Skip Select to do the same thing reliably?

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