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Court Upholds TiVo Over Dish

Alviso, Calif. — A U.S. Appeals Court Thursday upheld an earlier ruling that EchoStar’s Dish Network violated TiVo’s patent on DVR software technology.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, however, reversed a 2006 U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas jury’s opinion that EchoStar violated any of TiVo’s DVR hardware patents, but that decision did not affect the amount of damages awarded, which was affirmed at $74 million ($94 million accounting for interest).

The TiVo suit, which was originally filed by TiVo in 2004, charged that EchoStar willfully violated TiVo’s patent for simultaneously recording and watching television channels.

EchoStar’s Dish Network issued a statement saying: “We are pleased the Federal Circuit found for us on TiVo’s hardware claims, but are disappointed in the Federal Circuit’s decision on the software claims. The decision, however, will have no effect on our current or future customers because EchoStar’s engineers have developed and deployed ‘next-generation’ DVR software to our customers’ DVRs.

“This improved software is fully operational, has been automatically downloaded to current customers, and does not infringe the TiVo patent at issue in the Federal Circuit’s ruling.”

EchoStar said all Dish Network customers will “continue to use their DVRs without any interruption or changes” to their DVR features and services.

The satellite operator said it will appeal the Federal Circuit Court ruling.

Predictably, TiVo celebrated the decision Thursday, saying: “We are extremely pleased that the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit unanimously ruled in our favor in EchoStar’s appeal of the district court judgment of patent infringement, full award of damages and that the injunction, which was stayed pending appeal, was ordered to be reinstated.

“Today’s ruling is confirmation of the value of TiVo’s IP portfolio, which is in addition to the other benefits TiVo has to offer. TiVo can now continue to focus on its goal to drive greater distribution in both its stand-alone and mass distribution efforts.”

Also on Thursday, TiVo said it has reached an agreement to supply viewer research data to the CBS Television Network through TiVo’s Stop Watch service.

TiVo will provide second-by-second measurement of program and specific commercial ratings for both live and time-shifted viewing, and will give CBS access to insights into DVR viewing behavior.

The arrangement is similar to a deal TiVo reached earlier with NBC.

The partnership will allow CBS to develop and measure new strategies for its advertising clients, including learning how to better keep audience attention during commercial breaks, and develop new and improved promotional strategies for time-shifted viewers to build audiences for its programs, the company said.