Ah, patent trolling: the last refuge of a dying company. Don’t get me wrong. I love my TiVo. It’s like a friend and a lover. We still have the old DVD-burning Humax model – I didn’t even upgrade to the wonky cable-card HD model – and the fact that I, a fairly plugged in tech nerd didn’t bother to upgrade is a testament to the company’s slow descent. I know there are better things out there and better things coming down the pike and so the current my TiVo is just fine by me.
That leads us to TiVo’s lawsuit against AT&T and Verizon for time-shifting patents. Here is the basic info:
ALVISO, Calif., Aug. 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) today filed complaints in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas against AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications, Inc. for infringement of the following three TiVo patents U.S. Patent Nos. 6,233,389 B1 (“Multimedia Time Warping System”), 7,529,465 B2 (“System for Time Shifting Multimedia Content Streams”), and 7,493,015 B1 (“Automatic Playback Overshoot Correction System”). The complaints seek damages for past infringement and a permanent injunction, similar to that issued by the United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas against DISH/EchoStar.
The DISH lawsuit lasted for five years and involved, in short, the company presumably infringing on TiVo’s “concept” of stream time-shifting. Essentially they’re saying that only they can build a time shifting DVR.
Essentially TiVo is going after DVRs, straight up. TiVo’s patent is for a device that can allow you to watch one program while recording another. In a world where standalone TiVo boxes are going the way of the Dodo, this patent could be a goldmine for the failing company, resulting in a series of nutritious lawsuits until the company ends up like SCO – a lawsuit slinging shell of its former self.