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Patents Businesses Cloud Television The Courts Entertainment

TiVo Sues Comcast Again, Alleging Operator's X1 Infringes Eight Patents (variety.com) 58

TiVo's Rovi subsidiary on Wednesday filed two lawsuits in federal district courts, alleging Comcast's X1 platform infringes eight TiVo-owned patents. "That includes technology covering pausing and resuming shows on different devices; restarting live programming in progress; certain advanced DVR recording features; and advanced search and voice functionality," reports Variety. From the report: A Comcast spokeswoman said the company will "aggressively defend" itself. "Comcast engineers independently created our X1 products and services, and through its litigation campaign against Comcast, Rovi seeks to charge Comcast and its customers for technology Rovi didn't create," the Comcast rep said in a statement. "Rovi's attempt to extract these unfounded payments for its aging and increasingly obsolete patent portfolio has failed to date."

TiVo's legal action comes after entertainment-tech vendor Rovi (which acquired the DVR company in 2016 and adopted the TiVo name) sued Comcast and its set-top suppliers in April 2016, alleging infringement of 14 patents. In November 2017, the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that Comcast infringed two Rovi patents -- with the cable operator prevailing on most of the patents at issue. However, because one of the TiVo patents Comcast was found to have violated covered cloud-based DVR functions, the cable operator disabled that feature for X1 customers. Comcast is appealing the ITC ruling.

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TiVo Sues Comcast Again, Alleging Operator's X1 Infringes Eight Patents

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  • Conflicted (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AlanBDee ( 2261976 ) on Thursday January 11, 2018 @07:37PM (#55911749)

    I hate software patents, but I hate Comcast even more... I'm so conflicted I don't know what to think.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      These patents could be enforced against others if Comcast loses. The best outcome would be to invalidate all of these patents. TiVo has experienced declining sales as cable companies have leased DVRs to their customers. Instead of adapting their business model, they're trying to use litigation to offset the loss of revenue. It's a page out of Darl McBride's playbook.

      • Tivo made a big mistake of marrying themselves to the cable industry to begin with, so it doesn't really matter anyways since cable is dying. That, and they've tried to become more of an IP troll over the last 6 years as their relevance has slid away. I have little sympathy to begin with; they sold boxes with many hardware defects while only offering a 90 day warranty. The most common problem with S1 units was that their modems would easily break, which effectively rendered it useless.

      • The outcome is that other companies will have to legally license the technology that someone else invented instead of just stealing it. This is something TiVo invented, these were indeed novel ideas, and Comcast knew these patents existed. In a relatively short period of time these patents will expire.

        This is exactly what the patent system is supposed to do: provide a temporary exclusive right to the inventor as an incentive to publish and make public the new invention instead of maintaining closely held

        • This is something TiVo invented, these were indeed novel ideas,

          I looked up the patents listed in the Variety article, and not a single one of them were novel, and many of them were prior art and should never have been granted. I mean, one of them is looking up stuff using a limited number of words. One deals with partitioning video or "content" into sections and allowing users to access sections directly without seeking through the whole content. Just like the "chapter" mode on every DVD produced in the last twenty years allows.

          I had, many years ago, an ATI TV tuner t

    • Re:Conflicted (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Thursday January 11, 2018 @07:55PM (#55911847) Homepage Journal

      Whoever wins, we lose.

  • While this is technically accurate... The company Rovi bought TiVo, then rebranded itself as TiVo. So it’s somewhat funny to think about the existence of a “Rovi subsidiary”.

  • by putaro ( 235078 ) on Thursday January 11, 2018 @10:32PM (#55912521) Journal

    I'm not a big fan of software patents, but they exist and Comcast's defense is bogus. Independent invention is not a defense against patent infringement. I notice they didn't say anything about the patents being invalid, just that they want to claim that because Tivo didn't write the X1 code the patents don't apply.

    • Actually in the world of real patents (read mechanical systems, not bogus software based crap) this is a common practice. My Grandfather was the head engineer of a multinational tool manufacturer and a good portion of his job was to implement safety mechanisms that didn't violate patents. If existing patents used an electrical interlock and a guard, they would use 2 independent guards and a mechanical failsafe. The only time he spent in court was to testify about the safety systems that people would overr
      • by putaro ( 235078 )

        He was creating a different, non-infringing implementation. That's different from "independent invention" which means you got the same thing but did it on your own. Examining patents to figure out a different way to do it in a non-infringing matter is standard practice and the defense, if sued by a patent holder, is "this invention doesn't infringe", not "I invented it without looking at yours"

  • by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Thursday January 11, 2018 @11:31PM (#55912743)

    >"Comcast engineers independently created our X1 products and services, "

    Um, I guess she doesn't know how these patents work. It doesn't matter HOW it was developed/created. Could be from nothing, could have been by people who never heard of the features before, could be in a clean room, could be a 100% copy of some established product. A patent is not a copyright.

    Love TiVo, hate some long physical patents, absolutely hate all software patents (also hate long copyrights, especially on obsolete/abandoned stuff), hate Comcast. Hmm, I am certainly conflicted :)

  • I love TiVo and still use it, but they're still subsisting off the DiSH Network judgments.

    Their business model over the past decade was to earn money by enforcing their patents. While I am not against the protection of intellectual property, I do have mixed feelings when a company's business plan is little more than enforcing your patent portfolio rather than your company continue to be an innovator, like the innovator TiVo was almost twenty years ago.

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