TiVo ‘Wins’ Another Round in Comcast Patent Dispute

TiVo June 4 received a favorable ruling by Administrative Law Judge MaryJoan McNamara of the International Trade Commission (ITC) that select aspects of Comcast’s cloud-based X1 video platform infringe Rovi’s patents.

Rovi, which acquired DVR pioneer TiVo in 2016 for $1.1 billion, operates under the TiVo brand name.

TiVo has a worldwide portfolio of over 5,500 patents. Patents involve advertising, analytics, DVR, guide, search and record, interactive TV and apps, AR/VR, multi-screen, parental controls, VOD/OTT, social media, sports, personalization and voice.

This was the second positive ruling for TiVo. In November 2017, the ITC issued a final ruling that Comcast had infringed two Rovi patents around ‘remote record’ functionality.

Comcast subsequently removed this feature from their products, according to TiVo.

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Then on May 23, the ITC launched a third investigation into Comcast for infringing six Rovi patents including: X1 Sports App, multi-room DVR features, and set-top box integrations of apps like Netflix.

That query has also been assigned to McNamara.

“We are thrilled by yet another legal victory,” Arvin Patel, EVP and chief intellectual property officer at Rovi, said in a statement. “We hope that today’s decision will encourage Comcast to pay the necessary licensing fees so their customers can once again access advanced cable features.”

That may be wishful thinking.

McNamara’s ruling is just one required step before the ITC can mandate Comcast make additional changes or pay license fees to TiVo – which the latter would prefer.

The cable behemoth contends TiVo’s technology is outdated and has instituted proprietary technology in the X1 platform.

In a statement, Comcast viewed McNamara’s decision a victory since the judge found “no violation” regarding two of the three other patents involved in the complaint.

“We look forward to the full commission’s review of the one remaining patent later this year, but we are confident, regardless, this ruling will not disrupt our service to our customers,” Comcast said. “We will continue to resist Rovi’s efforts to force Comcast and our customers to make unreasonable payments for aging and obsolete patents.”

 

Dish Network Sues Univision Over Streaming Video Patents

Dish Network, owner/operator of online TV pioneer Sling TV, has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Univision, the country’s largest Spanish-language TV broadcaster.

The suit, filed Jan. 25 in U.S. District Court in Delaware, alleges Univision’s online TV and related over-the-top video platforms – such as the $9.99 monthly Univision Now and UniMás– are using Dish’s streaming patents without a license.

In an era of OTT video, traditional pay-TV operators are scrambling to offer subscribers and consumers streaming video options – often utilizing licensed third-party technology.

Dish said it informed Univision last July that it needed to pay license fees for patents owned by Move Networks, which Dish/EchoStar acquired in 2011 for $45 million.

The software helps reduce buffering and auto-adjusts video resolution bit-rates depending upon user’s screen size and broadband connection, among other features.

With Dish and Univision currently involved in a carriage fee dispute, Dish also claims Univision offers Univision Now for less than it charges Sling TV subscribers – an allegation Univision denies.

“As we previously informed Dish, we deny that we are in violation of any of its patents. As such, we intend to vigorously defend ourselves against these claims,” Univision said in a statement.