Court battle over DVRs goes on


TiVO’s stock fell Friday after a federal judge declined to rule the previous day on whether Dish Network is violating his injunction against violating a TiVO patent on DVRs. Dish has already paid over $100 million in damages, but claims its reworked DVR doesn’t infringe the patent. Now we will have to wait until February to find out what the judge thinks.

The original court ruling against Dish came in 2004, but it was only in October that the company had to fork over the cash to TiVO when the US Supreme Court refused to hear Dish’s appeal. What’s yet to be decided is whether the workaround that Dish created also infringes the patent, which would result in still more damages to pay.

As you would expect, the two sides have very different views of the latest action.

Dish was calling it a victory that the judge did not immediately find it in contempt: “We are pleased that the district court did not find us in contempt on the face of the injunction. We look forward to the February bench trial on our software design-around. Our subscribers can continue using their award-winning DVRs from DISH Network,” the satellite TV company said.

TiVo begs to differ: “We are pleased that the U.S. District Court has scheduled a hearing on EchoStar’s purported workaround on February 17, 2009.  Contrary to EchoStar’s statement yesterday, the Court did not rule on TiVo’s pending motion for contempt of the injunction.  The Court will do so after the hearing as well as rule on the amount of damages owed to TiVo (which EchoStar admitted at the September 4, 2008 hearing are owed) beyond the nearly $105 million already paid by EchoStar.  This is a positive step, particularly the accelerated discovery ordered by the Court, towards the ultimate resolution of all issues in the litigation and we remain confident that we will prevail in showing that EchoStar’s workaround does not avoid infringement."

More to come in February.