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TiVO Patent Upheld, Dish May Have to Disable DVR 235

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."
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TiVO Patent Upheld, Dish May Have to Disable DVR

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  • Not so fast (Score:5, Informative)

    by Itsallmyfault ( 1015439 ) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @01:42AM (#22270724)
    As I understand it, Dish Networks has pushed upgrades to their units, resolving any infringment issues. Deactivating DVRs isn't on the table.
  • by GuyverDH ( 232921 ) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @01:53AM (#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.... =)
  • Re:No... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Romancer ( 19668 ) <romancer@deathsdoo[ ]om ['r.c' in gap]> on Saturday February 02, 2008 @02:59AM (#22271048) Journal
    Again, someone missing the point about VCRs.

    Could you record one program and watch another previously recorded program at the same time? Could you pause a live signal and keep recording while you answered the phone or went to the bathroom?

    That's the main difference between a DVR and a VCR. Multitasking recording and playback at the same time, not just passing through the signal for realtime viewing while recording something else.
  • Re:No... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @03:32AM (#22271154)
    I believe it was GoVideo that had the two tape VCR. With this VCR, you could record one show and watch another previously recorded program. You could also start recording a show from the point you wanted to get up. This would allow you to continue watching from the point that you left off. In essence pausing.
  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @03:55AM (#22271230)
    I'm pretty sure that video capture cards on the PC predated the Tivo. I see that AIW [] 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.
  • Re:Naive question... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @03:57AM (#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.

  • Re:No... (Score:3, Informative)

    by jack455 ( 748443 ) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @04:20AM (#22271322)
    The dual deck, dual tuner Govideo VCR predated Tivo by MANY years. Two tuners allowed recording of one program while you either recorded or watched another. I worked in the industry throughout. I believe ReplayTV predated them as well.
  • Re:No... (Score:3, Informative)

    by jack455 ( 748443 ) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @04:22AM (#22271330)
    As I just wrote, there was a dual deck dual tuner VCR from Govideo that recorded while it played back recordings. You could also look at thousands of security devices that did this
  • by mkraft ( 200694 ) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @09:06AM (#22272280)
    If you actually read the patent [] 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.
  • Wrong (Score:4, Informative)

    by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @09:30AM (#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.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"