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TiVo Relaunching As a Patent Troll?

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the i-thought-we-could-be-friends dept.

Patents 335

An anonymous reader writes "TiVo's quarterly call was a bit more dramatic than usual. While they continue to lose customers and innovate 'at a very unhurried pace,' TiVo seeks a repeat DISH Network performance in going after AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) for infringement. Basically, TiVo's current business model appears to be ad sales and patent trolling."

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TiVo was cool... (2, Interesting)

ChefInnocent (667809) | more than 5 years ago | (#29218979)

but then TV got boring. So, I canceled all of that years ago. It's a shame they are becoming a troll though, cause I really liked it way back when.

Re:TiVo was cool... (2, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219057)

You make a good point - is this entirely a refleciton of changes in the TV market as a whole? TV sets still seem to be selling; I wonder how many are being sold to technologically adept people who buy things like Tivos, compared to more average people. I get the feeling that the continued paucity of quality TV might be driving away the kinds of people who would otherwise buy it.

Re:TiVo was cool... (1)

jeffshoaf (611794) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219233)

I get the feeling that the continued paucity of quality TV might be driving away the kinds of people who would otherwise buy it.

Actually, I think it has the reverse affect - it there's lots of good stuff to watch, people have their TV watching schedule filled up and don't need to time-shift stuff around, but when there's only a few good things to watch (and/or several good things on at the same time), folks get a DVR so they can watch that little bit of good stuff on their own schedule. With a DVR, I can record stuff I'm interested in regardless of when it comes on and watch it when there isn't anything on that I'm interested in.

Re:TiVo was cool... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219511)

There is a disconnect between "cool stuff being on" and your personal schedule.

This is exactly what the Tivo tapped into. It allowed people to free
themselves from other people's schedule. You no longer had to plan
your life around the stupid little box in the living room.

While Tivo was an innovator, they primarily exploited improvements in
consumer hardware and widely available software features.

Unfortunately, they were seduced by the dark side of patent trolling
and ceased to push their technology forward in any meaningful way.

Re:TiVo was cool... (1)

Dr_Ken (1163339) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219549)

With sites like Hulu you can now watch episodes of most shows whenever you want and then buy or otherwise acquire them latter if you like them enough. I'm sure the view anytime aspect of things cut into TiVo's business. Sad to see them turn into patent trolls instead trying to innovate though.

Re:TiVo was cool... (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219851)

Well, they did get their patents by being innovate in the first place.

Hopefully, they will continue to be innovate. Things liek partnerships with Netflix are nice additions to the Tivo.

Re:TiVo was cool... (2, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219749)

but when there's only a few good things to watch (and/or several good things on at the same time),

That's good news for the consumer. TV networks are well known to put good stuff on when other networks do, and crap when other networks do, so you have to pick what good show you want to watch because all the good stuff is on at the same time on different stations. (prime time [wikipedia.org] ) Time shifting adds a whole lot of goodness to the consumer.

Re:TiVo was cool... (2, Funny)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219373)

TV seems to be more and more reality shows, dull sports and bad programs for children than anything else.

When the peak of science during the week on TV is Mythbusters (nothing really wrong with them) then there is something really bad going on.

Re:TiVo was cool... (2, Insightful)

Dr_Ken (1163339) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219661)

With TV so fragmented and diverse now it's very hard for all but few shows to break out of the scrum and gain an audience. Just as with film studios the networks don't want niche viewers for quality programs (well maybe PBS does) they want blockbusters with high viewer ratings and long term rebroadcast royalties and DVD sales. Nobody wants a good but low rated Firefly; they all want a mega-hits like Seinfeld. As for reality shows they're cheap to produce.

Re:TiVo was cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29219615)

TV Sets still sell largely because game consoles still sell, and until you can no longer reap better graphics rewards from television sets than current monitors (not to mention the difference in sound quality on average) then this will continue. There is; however, no need to rewind or fast-forward video game video -- eliminating the need for TiVo in this context. If this is what the bulk of sales are for, or otherwise for people like me who immediately plug a PC into the DVI port and start utilizing it as a much bigger LCD, then it makes sense that it's not just a reflection of TV Programming quality.

Re:TiVo was cool... (1)

al0ha (1262684) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219171)

Tivo has tried to come out with some nice additions, like renting movies on demand. The stupid aspect of this offering is that you have to provide a credit card to another company such as Amazon. Why Tivo does not handle the charging transaction themselves is beyond me since they already have my CC number for the recurring monthly charges. So due to this I will not be renting any movies on demand from Tivo.

Dumb.

Re:TiVo was cool... (1)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219607)

TiVo doesn't want to get into the content distribution business. Companies like Amazon, Netflix, etc. already do this so there's plenty of competition in that area. The great thing about TiVo is that if you use one of these services it's easy to set it up to watch videos on demand. My girlfriend has Netflix but doesn't have a TiVo so we plugged her Netflix account info into my TiVo. Now whenever she's over at my place we can watch any of the movies that she's selected and is available to be watched via download. Once you've gone through the initial setup it's a piece of cake to use - it's just another menu choice in the TiVo.

Re:TiVo was cool... (1, Interesting)

zstlaw (910185) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219177)

What is this TV thing people talk about? I haven't used my TV (except for video games and DVDs) for over a decade. I know no one outside work who talks about TV. It is much more common to hear about what is new on hulu or netflix. Are my friends just too techie? I always thought this was a growing trend among the younger more tech savvy audience.

Re:TiVo was cool... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29219295)

In my experience, average people still do watch a lot of TV, but it seems they're becoming more focused, viewing TV as a means of accessing specific shows rather than as a general leisure activity ("I want to watch the next episode of X" vs. "I think I'll relax in front of the TV"). The American-Idol style shows, particularly America's Got Talent, still seem to be doing quite well.

Although I observed this mostly in middle aged and older audiences, so perhaps the viewing patterns aren't the same for the younger generation.

Re:TiVo was cool... (1)

ChefInnocent (667809) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219375)

Well, I gave up tv in 04/05, but I'm not one of the "younger" audience. I'm 37. I grew up on TV. It was my babysitter and a member of the family. There were no video games or DVDs. We were too poor to own an Atari, and I was almost 10 before we would rent a VCR to watch a movie. So, kicking the TV habit took a bit more than you young whipper-snappers. But I started with TiVo in 01.

Re:TiVo was cool... (2, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219371)

TiVo was cool... but then TV got boring.

TV didn't get boring. TV always was boring. You just fell out of the large cross section that is the target of the major networks. Maybe you grew up, maybe your tastes changed or maybe you got sick of it. Don't get me wrong, I still watch Adult Swim now and then but everything else is by and large off the radar. I overhear my coworkers talking about modern TV and it's pretty painful. You can make a show called "The <insert adjective here> Housewives of <insert location here> County" and you'd have an instant success (Ex: "The Virtual Housewives of Warcraft County"). There's nothing wrong with them liking it, I just can't see how one derives entertainment from it. Adult Swim is doomed though, ask a hundred people on the street about it and see how many watch it. It's a shame but I realize I'm just part of the minority.

In my opinion, TiVo died by no one's fault but their own. TiVo enjoyed success and then sat and watched as Cox and Comcast (where I live) introduced DVR boxes into their packages that essential did what TiVo did. Maybe TiVo couldn't stop it? Maybe their trying to stop it with patent litigation? Who knows? TiVo needed to make itself more attractive to counter this and it just never did it for me. I never had TiVo because of the cost but I've had a DVR for a while.

I don't think the blame lies on popular TV, it's as predictable and vapid as ever.

Re:TiVo was cool... (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219705)

I partially disagree. Yeah, the stuff my coworkers talk about is pretty awful. With all of the talent/singing/dance competitions, reality TV, house flippers, entertainment news and cookie-cutter, police procedurals, it can be pretty depresing, but HBO, Showtime, SyFy (ugh, I hate to saying that name) and yes, AS have done a really good job of picking up the ball and going out of the bounds of the 15-steps.

As far as Adult Swim being doomed, I really don't see it happening too soon. They have a very loyal audience on a network whose major viewership sharply drops at 10PM.

Re:TiVo was cool... (1)

DudeTheMath (522264) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219859)

I have TiVo. I bought the lifetime service plan when I first got it. I've got NetFlix on-demand through it. I love it.

My brother had TiVo, but then Comcast gave away their DVR with his cable. He knows the Comcast software is inferior and the keypress lag is huge, but he can't justify the extra cost for TiVo's software, which he was paying monthly. It's hard to compete with free, especially when I'm actually paying an additional $8 a month to Verizon for the two cable cards in my TiVo.

That's TiVo's big problem: the cablecos deliberately undercut them on price. Why? Is it because Verizon gets more money from people who use their box? I have no idea. But they are the ones trying to put TiVo out of business.

Re:TiVo was cool... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219379)

In your opinion. Many people watch TV..millions upon million, in fact.

As much as I loath 'reality TV' it is very popular

I say this as someone who chooses not to pay a subscription to TV and get everything over the air or via the internet.

I'm sure TiVo has it in mind to move into on demand type products.

Re:TiVo was cool... (2, Insightful)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219935)

As much as I loath 'reality TV' it is very popular

Only a total idiot would watch (un)reality TV. That doesn't dispute your assesment of its popularity.

Re:TiVo was cool... (2, Informative)

Strudelkugel (594414) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219447)


I have a Series 1 Tivo; bought it about 10 years ago with a lifetime subscription. I late 2004, the cableco offered an HD DVR with HDTV, etc, so I switched to that configuration and stuck the old Tivo on the shelf. In 2008 I subscribed to Netflix, and thought the cableco DVR really wasn't needed anymore since I rarely watch live sports at home, and everything else of interest in HD was available on HD DVD or upscaled DVD.

I looked at the Series 3 HD Tivo, and decided to get one because it was cheap enough to amortize the cost in a few years, could stream Netflix and had some other nice features.

My experience with it was bad, though. The thing had too many software bugs and there are far too many ads embedded in the menus. Tivo has unfortunately jumped the shark. I returned it, got a Roku box for Netflix, and reconnected my old Tivo (good thing I got the lifetime subscription), which makes sense now that the only timeshifting I need to do is for broadcast television, since everything else of interest to me can be streamed.

Sorry to say, but I think Tivo will not be a "going concern" for much longer, given, in my experience, that their product quality has plunged and the need for a DVR is diminishing as more content becomes available via streaming. It's interesting to me that streaming made the old Tivo relevant again.

Re:TiVo was cool... (1)

gsking1 (1109797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219691)

Tivo was cool and still is, it's just too expensive when tacked onto the already excessive cable/satellite bill. It also suffers in that most people equate tivo with a standard dvr, which is wrong, but many just do not understand the benefits of tive. They think that the beat up dvr given to them from the cable company is the same thing and don't realize that tivo has a superior GUI, remote, listings, uptime. Even with all these features it should only be a few dollars per month, not $15 or whatever it is now.

We still have a tivo running the "lifetime" service, which has turned out to be a great deal, now that its been running for about 6 years now. I've already replaced the hard drive once, but as long as the motherboard is okay its still supported. They might have more customers if they brought this back (I'd own another).

In a more general sense, I think TV and cable have priced themselves out of the game. If it wasn't $80 per month +/- to get digital cable (dish, whatever) then more people would probably watch.

You also have to admit that it's much easier to jump on the couch and channel surf something at the end of a long day than to always use netflix or internet.

How is this a Patent Troll? (5, Insightful)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219007)

It's not like TiVo is a company set up to collect patents and then chase them down. They've had products on the market for years, would by many be said to have created the home digital recorder (and thus have attained many patents), still have products on the market, and other providers have created products that are now losing TiVo business.

So if the patent is valid (I haven't read it) then surely TiVo have as much right to go after infringers as any other company that has its patents on its products infringed?

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (3, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219071)

True. But in the end, Tivo will be obsolete. You don't need a DVR to watch on demand shows via Netflix Watch It Now, Hulu, etc.

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219251)

Be that as it may, it still boils down to calling James Cameron a leech on society just because you don't watch movies.

Just like how copyright infringement doesn't become legal, just because you don't want to pay for the items (which is the equivalent of what AT&T and Verizon is being sued for doing).

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219313)

Ok, then AT&T and Verizon should simply switch to offering standard TV and "On Demand" television shows, and not utilize a DVR in the home. Problem solved.

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (3, Insightful)

jeffshoaf (611794) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219421)

Ok, then AT&T and Verizon should simply switch to offering standard TV and "On Demand" television shows, and not utilize a DVR in the home. Problem solved.

Or they can wait until TiVo's patent expires or they can pay licensing fees to TiVo. That's the way the patent system is supposed to work!

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (2, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219531)

I agree they should pay licensing fees if they use a Tivo interface. I don't believe they should have to pay licensing fees simply because they time-shift programming using a hard drive.

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (4, Insightful)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219751)

Well, that's the thing. If TiVo has a patent on time-shifting using a harddrive, then that is what the patent covers. We may not like it, but then we should try to change the patent system instead of calling companies that try to defend the patents that they use in actual products "trolls".

You may not believe, that you should have to pay a fee just to use an SUV in London - but those are the rules that society has agreed upon. You have two options - get the rules changed or face the music when you don't follow the rules.

Now, if this was targeted at individual people building their own home made DVR, we could talk about trolling even though patents also cover those things. But here we're talking about AT&T and Verizon, two companies with a market cap of $156 billion [yahoo.com] and $88 billion [yahoo.com] respectively. They should know better. Okay, it's AT&T and Verizon - from what we hear about them on Slashdot, I doubt they DO know better. And if 10% of what we hear about here is true, they sure as hell don't deserve us defending them.

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (2, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219863)

So because they use a slimmed down PC to do the timeshifting instead of a VCR, they immediately get to tax everyone who wants the capability? I think not. I would fully support AT&T and Verizon changing the backend technology to present the same functionality to the end user while not infringing on this "patent" (if that's what bullshit like this is called today). What then? Call the whambulance because it's not fair to Tivo? Welcome to the marketplace.

London charging a congestion tax is nothing like Tivo trying to collect from anyone who remotely thinks of shifting television content around with a magnetic storage device.

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219307)

Sure, as will all DVRs; however that's still years away.
As much asI love Hulu it is lacking in show choices*, quality, and easily getting it to the TV, and competition not having a central location.

* Yes, they ahve a lot but not a majority.

Just wait.... (1)

professorguy (1108737) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219395)

You don't need a DVR to watch on demand shows

Oh, but you will, you will. Every service starts out without commercials, then a few, then they're crawling out of the screen like locusts. So eventually you will download your hulu into another program, then use that program to skip the inevitable commercial hoarde that is unleashed.

If that program is sold by TiVo, that'll be fine with me.

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29219613)

But TiVo has been slowly moving away from only being a DVR. They already support on demand shows from Netflix & Amazon.

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (1)

jokewallpaper (449100) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219183)

I agree. Tivo is not a patent troll. They invented something new and unique. The others copied it. If the other posters have ever created something unique and had someone take it they would know how the people at Tivo feel.

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (3, Interesting)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219255)

Its not unique. Digital video predates the tivo by decades.

What exactly should be be protecting here?

Already my DVR cannot do a lot of things because of patents. With a Tivo you can fast forward, press stop, and it will jump back a few seconds. Thats a tivo patent.

They are well protected in the market. If anything, this shows us how patents are way too powerful in the modern world. The guy with the best lawyer wins, not the originator or the small inventor.

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (2, Informative)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219599)

Digital video != DVR

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29219877)

Already my DVR cannot do a lot of things because of patents. With a Tivo you can fast forward, press stop, and it will jump back a few seconds. Thats a tivo patent.

They are well protected in the market. If anything, this shows us how patents are way too powerful in the modern world. The guy with the best lawyer wins, not the originator or the small inventor.

You're talking about 7,493,015, right? How does this show that patents are way too powerful? Did any video playback devices have this feature before Tivo did? Had anyone thought of this idea and done anything with it, like saying on a web site "you know, it would be nice if video playback devices jumped back a few seconds after they are stopped from fast forwarding"?

Does this feature prevent competing video playback devices from being marketed? Can't they just drop the "skip back a few seconds after fast forward is stopped" feature and avoid infringing?

Sure, it gets more challenging to avoid accidental infringement when you have a few thousand documented requirements for your up-and-coming playback device and half of those features come from looking at what your competitor has done. But is it really an insurmountable task to identify some of the most serious infringement threats (e.g., by looking at patents assigned to the competitor who is being mimicked)? Why can't competitors drop infringing features, engineering around claim limitations, attack the patent's validity, or perhaps ask for a license? Are they just too timid?

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219431)

I agree. Tivo is not a patent troll. They invented something new and unique.

And just what did they invent? A digital video recorder. Only thing is, once all the pieces were there, the digital video recorder was inevitable. They just managed to be first to market. The first two patents broadly cover the DVR. The last patent covers correcting overshoot when fast forwarding and rewinding; the first claim is broad enough to encompass all the obvious techniques of doing so.

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219617)

They invented something new and unique.

New and unique and obvious.

Go read the claims in the patent. They are obvious.

Regardless of what the rubberstampers in the USPTO do, being the first to come up with trivial solutions in a new problem domain does not imply nonobvious. Why did nobody else think of these ideas before TiVo? Not because of any deep thinking on TiVo's part. It simply was because they were working on a new set of problems made possible by larger faster hard disks. (An enabling technology which TiVo had nothing to do with.)

If TiVo did any innovation, it was to tinker around with those drives and run to the patent office a few weeks before others did. Anybody else working in parallel on the same problems would have come up with the same exact solutions. That doesn't warrant a 20-year monopoly on DVRs.

SCO (1)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219201)

It's not like SCO was set up to collect patents and chase them down. They've had products on the market for years...

Re:SCO (1)

Suzuran (163234) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219849)

That's just cruel.

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (0, Troll)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219235)

would by many be said to have created the home digital recorder

IMO if you're trying to collect on an obvious idea, you're a patent troll. I doubt there's a single slashdotter here (except maybe NYCL) who couldn't have made a DVR out of an old laptop, a few roofing nails and a bananna. And most of us could have done it without the nails and bananna.

They shouldn't be able to hold a patent. Also, didn't I see somewhere here a year or so ago that they used GPL code illegally? How's that turn out?

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (3, Insightful)

Leafheart (1120885) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219655)

IMO if you're trying to collect on an obvious idea, you're a patent troll. I doubt there's a single slashdotter here (except maybe NYCL) who couldn't have made a DVR out of an old laptop, a few roofing nails and a bananna. And most of us could have done it without the nails and bananna.

Interesting, if so why didn't you do? It is very easy to say things are obvious after the fact. For me it is obvious that planes can fly, and dead obvious why, that was not the case back then.

Now, if there is prior art, and if someone proves that WHEN they made it, is was pretty obvious how to do it efficient, kudos, and the patent will get invalid. If not, they have the right to go after anyone.

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (2, Funny)

jeffshoaf (611794) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219737)

IMO if you're trying to collect on an obvious idea, you're a patent troll. I doubt there's a single slashdotter here (except maybe NYCL) who couldn't have made a DVR out of an old laptop, a few roofing nails and a bananna. And most of us could have done it without the nails and bananna.

Interesting, if so why didn't you do?

I was going to, but someone ate my bananna...

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29219677)

An obvious idea? If it was so obvious then why didnt other companies make this product and patent it? Its easy to say its an obvious idea 10 years after the fact.
Too bad you or anyone else didnt make one out of a laptop 10 years ago, you could have been a multi millionaire!

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (2, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219755)

The moment I saw a Tivo, I knew that I could replicate it with an off the
shelf TV tuner. The only problem was the size of hard drives versus the
size of uncompressed video. This makes something like a Tivo impractical
if you are starting out with a bttv card. A tuner card that does it's own
mpeg2/mpeg4 compression makes implementing something like Tivo possible
with a standard desktop PC and little more than some mangey shell scripts.

Attempts to replicate the Tivo in software started immediately.

If some college kid can replicate your "invention" without seeing any of
the details of your patent then you have been granted a patent on the
"idea" and not the actual implementation.

Why can't you watch TV with just a CRT? (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219867)

The rumors of Slashdotter's technical skills are greatly exaggerated.

That old laptop is unlikely to include a TV tuner and even if you try to buy a tuner card, it may not be compatible with the old laptop. Are we supposed to make the tuner out of the bananna and roofing nails?

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (5, Insightful)

jittles (1613415) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219483)

Worst of all for TiVO is that the service providers are intentionally trying to block them out of the market so they can provide their own DVR's based on TiVO's work. It's patents fighting against service monopolies.

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219663)

The home digital recorder is a reflection of the state of the art in PC hardware and systems software.

It doesn't represent anything patent worthy. The fact that Tivo managed to
get some patents out of it just shows the inherent unsuitability of our
current patent office.

Their patent litigation is simply the result of not being able
to compete in a marketplace of mediocre competitors that just
happen to be gatekeepers for most of Tivo's potential customers.

Tivo can't compete with "free" on the lowend and can't compete
with "flexible and powerful" on the highend. The competition has
been getting better while Tivo has been stagnating.

Re:How is this a Patent Troll? (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219921)

If only TiVo had better patent enforcement earlier perhaps DirecTV/Dish wouldn't have gone off and made sucky TiVo knock-offs... When my Direc-TiVo finallygave up the ghost a few years ago I was so dissappointed in the DirecTV DVR replacement that I spent the next few days trying everything I could think of to revive it. On the other hand I fault TiVo management with failing to see that the writing was on the wall spelling out doom for their business model. Had they had instead collected a very small royalty for licensing the TiVo name and 'look and feel' they probably would be rolling in dough now and millions of DVR owners like myself wouldn't be struggling with UI monstrosities like the DirecTV DVR.

I still like the Tivo User Interface (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29219019)

I have used several different boxes from Cox Comm. And have been very unsatisfied with them. The Tivo user interface just seems more intuitive.

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29219037)

I have no idea whether the "summary" is biased or not, but if I were to guess the name of the editor just by the language, I would have guessed kdawson.

boop-BOOP (3, Funny)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219059)

boop-BOOP ....
Tivo recommends "GET YOURSELF A LAWYER"

Trlling? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29219061)

It's not trolling if your patent truly covers an innovation, and your competitors copy it. In this case it's called "protecting your rights".

Time Warp patent (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219283)

'It's not trolling if your patent truly covers an innovation, and your competitors copy it. In this case it's called "protecting your rights"'

Apart from the accusation that Dish illegally copied TiVo technology. I would have assumed that there were any number of methods of pausing, rewinding, and recording live television on digital video recorders. A PC, a tuner card, a dual head harddrive, and two instances of FFMPEG .. --

Bill Gates' hurricane stopper [techflash.com]

It's Netscape VS MS Again.. (1)

Heem (448667) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219079)

The way I see it, this may have merit, similarly to Netscape vs. MS. - Why would anyone bother buying a tivo when they can just get it right with their cable bill?

Re:It's Netscape VS MS Again.. (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219115)

or...

build a desktop system with a couple of terabytes of disk space & Linux & MythTV

Re:It's Netscape VS MS Again.. (5, Insightful)

VeryVito (807017) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219163)

Every time I've set up new cable service, I try the local carrier's DVR flavor... and so far, I have always gone back to TiVo. TiVo actually DOES have a nice product with several innovative features. Protecting one's patent does NOT make one a troll: it makes one a patent holder. The original poster seems to think all patents should be abolished (which would kinda suck for encouraging some innovations).

Re:It's Netscape VS MS Again.. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219795)

Nope. He probably doesn't think that patents on "ideas" should exist.

A lot of the more bogus recent patents are effectively that.

The rather difficult task of building the mousetrap isn't the
thing subject to a government enforced monopoly, the IDEA of
a mousetrap is.

The whole "bundleware" thing is a tragedy but allowing bogus patents isn't the answer.

Re:It's Netscape VS MS Again.. (4, Insightful)

Lost Engineer (459920) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219197)

Why would anyone bother buying a tivo when they can just get it right with their cable bill?

Because the cable company charges usurious rates and extra fees for a DVR with a crap interface that's littered with bugs? The only thing stopping me from switching to Tivo currently is on demand. You have to keep a box from the cable company for that to work, since cable card does not support it, and they charge you for it.

Re:It's Netscape VS MS Again.. (1)

Heem (448667) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219479)

Agreed with your points, but Internet Explorer is a piece of crap littered with bugs as well.. but yet many didn't use netscape (or even now still an alternate browser).

Point is, majority of people don't understand that they have choice because they are lead to believe that they do not.

Re:It's Netscape VS MS Again.. (1)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219955)

Point is, majority of people don't understand that they have choice because they are lead to believe that they do not.

Who the hell has never heard of TiVo? It is almost a brother to Kleenex in that even people with DVRs (that know theirs isn't a TiVo-brand DVR) still talk about how they "TiVo" shows. The problem with TiVo is that it's just so damned expensive. The HD box that only stores 20 hours of HD is $300... the one that stores 150 hours is $600... and then you have to pay $13/mo on top of that and you would still have to pay a rental fee from the cable company for the CableCARD. I pay $10/mo extra for my HD DVR from Comcast... it sucks balls. It must have been coded by monkeys. It's all sorts of glitchy. But I get it for almost free (relatively). If TiVo would allow me to rent equipment instead of having to buy it, I probably would. I used to have a TiVo (back in the day that you had to make it dial in to download program information), and the interface was amazingly intuitive and very snappy, and I would get it again now that it's even better. They just have to come up with a way to solve this whole price problem.

Re:It's Netscape VS MS Again.. (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219789)

"Because the cable company charges usurious rates and extra fees for a DVR with a crap interface that's littered with bugs? The only thing stopping me from switching to Tivo currently is on demand. You have to keep a box from the cable company for that to work, since cable card does not support it, and they charge you for it."

This is interesting....I was wondering if anyone out there actually used On Demand....

I've only met one person I know that ever used it.

Not a good summary. (4, Insightful)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219109)

So this should be tagged "!troll" "badsummary" and "bitterposter" because I'm not entirely sure that this summary does it any justice. First, TiVo is not a troll for at least the reason that they actual manufacture products embodying the patent, have done so for a long time, and actually have revenue related to both hardware and subscription fees. [citation needed ;)].

Second, together with ReplayTV (now Motorola?), TiVo really was an innovator in this space. Whether these particular patents were innovative was at least decided with respect to DishNetwork. AT&T and Verizon will now get their chance to try to invalidate it. Who knows, maybe they have some damn good art.

Re:Not a good summary. (1)

Anonymous Cowar (1608865) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219439)

Yeah, it almost makes me wonder if this is a bit of astro-turf done by someone from AT&T or Verizon.

Re:Not a good summary. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29219455)

Further, the "unhurried pace" quote actually refers to dealing with an expired Java certificate in their desktop software (i.e. nobody's working on fixing it quickly.) "Innovating at an unhurried pace" is misleading and unsupported by the quote referenced.

Re:Not a good summary. (1)

deanlandolt (1004507) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219593)

Whether these particular patents were innovative was at least decided with respect to DishNetwork.

Do you really think patent litigation is capable of judging that? Do you really think that's even it's intent?

Re:Not a good summary. (0)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219855)

First, TiVo is not a troll for at least the reason that they actual manufacture products embodying the patent, have done so for a long time, and actually have revenue related to both hardware and subscription fees. [citation needed ;)].

They're trolls because I'm not aware of any hardware patents involved. If they invented something, fine. If they figured out a new way to arrange pre-existing software components in a general-purpose computer and are trying to get rich from a monopoly on that particular arrangement, then to hell with 'em.

If I came up with the concept of burning media files onto removable optical media for later replay and create hardware to implement it, then I should be able to patent the hardware but not the concept. TiVo did the same. They combined pre-existing technologies (hard drives, video capture cards) at a time when those technologies were just becoming powerful enough to work together. There's nothing whatsoever novel or clever about that idea. Everyone was trying the same thing, but TiVo managed to get it working marginally quicker. Why do they deserve an eternal monopoly on it?

Not all that trollish! (5, Insightful)

jeffshoaf (611794) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219119)

I think TIVO is using the patent system exactly as it was intended. They invented something unique and successfully marketed it, but then various cable and satellite companies decided to not (or to stop) paying the licensing fees and create similar devices. Let's face it, the cable companies aren't all that inovative on their own and they probably wouldn't have come up with the idea for a DVR w/o seeing TIVOs.

Re:Not all that trollish! (0)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219207)

So the originator should be the only one to produce that item and should have the market to themselves? Thats ridiculous. Thats like only have Ford cars or only having licensed IBM desktops - no clones.

Re:Not all that trollish! (1)

jeffshoaf (611794) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219353)

The idea behind the patent system is that someone can make an investment (in time and money) to invent something and have the opportunity to make that investment back without having someone take the idea behind that invention and undercut the original inventor's pricing without having to make that initial investment. The patent system allows the inventor some time to recoup their investment while making the innovation freely available to others after the patent has expired. Seems like a good system to me!

Re:Not all that trollish! (1, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219417)

I know how the system work. Guess what? Its 2009. The tivo has been out for TEN YEARS. Thats an eternity in the electronics world. The current system that gives monopologies for 14-20 years is ridiculous. Tivo had its time.

Re:Not all that trollish! (2, Insightful)

jeffshoaf (611794) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219799)

I know how the system work. Guess what? Its 2009. The tivo has been out for TEN YEARS. Thats an eternity in the electronics world. The current system that gives monopologies for 14-20 years is ridiculous. Tivo had its time.

OK, so you don't agree with the patent system for electronics. How does that make TiVo a patent troll?

Re:Not all that trollish! (4, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219419)

So the originator should be the only one to produce that item and should have the market to themselves? Thats ridiculous.

Ridiculous or not, that the whole idea of patents, as a means of providing a reward for innovation and thereby encouraging innovation. To quote the provision of the US Constitution enabling patents and copyrights: "The Congress shall have the power [...] [t]o promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."

Thats like only have Ford cars

Well, if Ford had invented the car, sure, it would be like only having Ford cars for a brief period after Ford invented them.

Re:Not all that trollish! (2, Insightful)

alteran (70039) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219317)

Agreed. TiVo wouldn't pass the purity-or-death Richard Stallman no-compromises test, but let's face it-- the cable industry cheated TiVo by locking them out, using all sorts of non-competitive practices including subsidized PVRs, turning CableCard into a joke, etc.

TiVo is definitely doing something I don't love, but they are essentially fighting douchebaggery with douchebaggery.

Re:Not all that trollish! (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219345)

Let's face it, the cable companies aren't all that inovative on their own and they probably wouldn't have come up with the idea for a DVR w/o seeing TIVOs.

You can't patent an idea, only an invention or a process. If Mr. Coffee has patents on their coffee maker, it doesn't mean that nobody else can make coffee makers, it means nobody can use their way of making a coffee makers.

My former brother in law worked in a manufacturing plant, and the boss would hand him some gizmo or another and say "can we make these?". If the answer was "yes", they let the lawyers sort it out. Sometimes using bronze instead of copper was enough to get around the patent.

Well... (5, Insightful)

aengblom (123492) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219141)

It's probably a better business model than

1. Spend lots of money to invent the mousetrap
2. Spend more money to make it better
3. Allow cable/satellite to build 80% of your ideas into their own equipment and cut you out of any revenues
4. Profit

Re:Well... (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219347)

True. But people here are convinced the business plan you just mentioned will work.

NOT a Patent Troll (4, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219179)

I know people are keen to brand anyone who files patent infringement lawsuits as a patent troll but a real patent troll owns patents but makes nothing - their line of business is to buy patents and sue companies. TiVo actually produces something. They have products and offer something to customers. They are simply enforcing their patents. You are welcome to question the validity of their patents; you are welcome to question the wisdom in starting patent wars with other major companies but, let's keep our discussion real - they are not patent trolls.

Longing for the good ol' days (3, Insightful)

Churla (936633) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219219)

As someone who is a DirectTV subscriber I can only hint at how much myself and every other DVR user they have that I have talked to miss Tivo when it was DirecTV's DVR offering. This "homebrew" or whatever DirectTV is calling it blows on a level hard to describe.

Re:Longing for the good ol' days (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219351)

build a Mythtv. That is what I use and it rocks.

Re:Longing for the good ol' days (1)

Churla (936633) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219603)

I have heard this from many people. It's on my somewhat long "projects" list, but it was nice having a device that did what I wanted that I didn't have to build myself.

Re:Longing for the good ol' days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29219685)

I agree. This is just like people who say "why would you *pay* for x when you could build it yourself in a weekend?" Well, maybe because my time is more valuable than yours... I ordered my Tivo online, and had it hooked up and running in an evening.

I know a guy who wants to build his own car. Sweet. That's a cool project. But that doesn't mean the rest of us are stupid for going and buying one off the lot.

Re:Longing for the good ol' days (1)

gauauu (649169) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219669)

The funny thing is I wasn't that impressed with MythTV. Sure it had a lot of functionality, but the user interface wasn't very good, and it broke down regularly.

First it was that the database got corrupted and shows wouldn't fast forward properly. Then it was that one of the channels mysteriously couldn't record sound (although it could with other apps on my system). Then it was something after that. It seems like I was messing with the configuration every 3 or 4 months.

Sadly (as I liked the idea of a free Linux-based solution) I switched to Beyond TV on windows, and now everything just works.

Re:Longing for the good ol' days (1)

Ares (5306) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219875)

except that it can't replace my directv high-def receiver. at least not while recording and re-displaying in high-definition.

Re:Longing for the good ol' days (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219895)

Write your senator.

Ask them why it isn't trivial for a Tivo or MCE or MythTV to interface with DishTV and record HD content.

Trashing the free market isn't going to help anything. It will just
replace some mediocre monopolies with a slightly less mediocre
monopoly-wanna-be.

Tivos were nice in 1999. They are a bit dated now.

We need more 3rd party Tivo knock offs.

Middle Earth Patent Troll? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29219223)

Is a Patent Troll anything like an Underpants Gnome? (or is it an Underpants KDE?)
Do they hang out with the Tooth Fairy?

Not a troll (2, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219245)

It's a legitimate case for used technology.

A patent troll is just someone who patents lots of 'ideas' and then sue whoever happen to have something similar in the market.

Slashdot patently relaunching as a troll. (1)

xigxag (167441) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219301)

GMAFB, protecting one's patents != patenttroll.

Having said that, TFA is, questionable objectivity aside, a model of a well researched blog posting.

Recommend a TiVo alternative? (4, Interesting)

kmcrober (194430) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219471)

I'm a long-term TiVo user, but this story reminds me of my simmering frustration with TiVo. Years ago I used a Hauppauge card, and their interface had innovations that TiVo still hasn't picked up on, like a vastly superior conflicts-resolution system. Is there a decent alternative to TiVo, with a better interface? Cable-company solutions are generally poor, as I understand it, and I frankly don't have time to roll my own Myth system. (I would consider an out-of-the-box Myth product, though.) I'd appreciate informed recommendations.

Re:Recommend a TiVo alternative? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29219903)

If you're only wanting SD basic cable just about any media center app + tuner card will work. (Vista or XP Media center, MythTV, MediaPortal, SageTV).

If you're wanting all the digital channels which includes all the HD and Premium channels this requires a cable card. There's only 3 options when it comes to cable card DVRs.
1. Tivo HD - $399 + Monthly Service Fees http://tivo.com
2. Visa Media Center PC with Cable Card - $1X00 or more but no monthly fees.
(Cable card tuners are not openly available to purchase. From what i understand they're locked to specific bios's. Look for the Dell XPS 4X0 line)
3. Moxi - $799 but no monthly fees. http://moxi.com/us/home.html

Also most DVR's from cable providers get the job done, but run horribly outdated software and this leads to a bad user experience. They also usually cost about $15 per month. (about the same as tivo).

I was optimistic when i heard Tivo struck a deal with Comcast to run the Tivo software on the Comcast hardware, but it appears this has only been in limited areas. http://www.comcast.com/Tivo/

Let's think about this... (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219497)

.... you can sit on your ass, hire some lawyers, and soak up millions via your government granted monopoly. Or you can roll up your sleeves and work your ass off innovating, servicing customers, and building up a customer base. What the frick would you choose?!

Re:Let's think about this... (4, Insightful)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219723)

.... you can sit on your ass, hire some lawyers, and soak up millions via your government granted monopoly.

That's what the cable companies do.

Or you can roll up your sleeves and work your ass off innovating, servicing customers, and building up a customer base

That's what TiVO did.

Sadly, it looks like they're quickly going out of business. The government should have mandated a universal standard for Satellite and Cable boxes so that TiVO (and any other manufacturer) could easily interface. Instead, we have a slapdash mix of ever-changing technologies like ATSC, QAM, SDV, etc and it's very difficult to design to a moving target (as anyone who has attempted to use a TiVO with CableCard knows).

Re:Let's think about this... (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219963)

I agree with everything you wrote. TiVo did innovate. Cable and satellite companies made it impossible to keep up. And the government/FCC should have stepped in and did something.

However, that doesn't change the fact that TiVo is now basically a patent troll. Sure they sell products, but their future income will come from patent settlements, not customers.

And a GPLv3 crisis is born (1)

HaqDiesel (464327) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219553)

We can't have TWO tivoization clauses! How are we going to know which one we're talking about?

Valid Suit? (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219641)

As I recall, the benefit and patent of TiVo was that they have a recommendation system based upon the user's likes and dislikes. This is much like the Netflix of TV, they recommend different shows you like based on shows that you have watched or rated. Is it possible this is actually a valid claim on the patent that TiVo holds? If the AT&T and Verizon recorders are making recommendations of what to watch, then this very well would infringe on the patent. When TiVo came out, this was a relatively new idea, and not many did it. Before TiVo, there weren't even many TV recording set top boxes.

Enforcing Patents isn't being a Troll (1)

Ritchie70 (860516) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219671)

The patent system is designed to give innovators a temporary monopoly on their innovation, in order to encourage that innovation.

I don't think most people would argue with saying Tivo was an innovator, unlike the "troll" companies who have no product except to enforce patents that they acquired rights to.

Tivo has a product, and they have a legitimate right to enforce their patent rights against companies infringing on those patents.

Patent putting old wine in new bottle (2, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 5 years ago | (#29219823)

Sometime in the 1980s someone had the bright idea to make nuclear powered airplanes. They looked up the patents and found Richard Feynman (yes, the Feynman) had patented it already in 1940s. So they decided to recruit him to lead the new company. Feynman had completely forgotten about that patent.

What had happened was that the army sent a captain to talk to all scientists working in the Manhatten Project and patent all the innovative ideas. Feynman told this captain, "Well, energy is just energy and you have this nuclear energy now. Just use this in any old thing that needs energy and presto! you got a patent. Put it in a ship Nuclear Powered Ship, put it in a plane, Nuclear Powered Airplane. Put it in a sub... you get the idea." A couple of weeks later the captain returned and said, "Well the ship and the sub are taken. But the plane... Its yours!".

Funny thing about the incident is, the Government would buy all these patents back from the scientists for a nominal sum of 1$. So the captain made Feynman sign it over to the government. Feynman demanded his dollar. The captain said, it was just a formality. But Feynaman stood his ground. "I want my dollar." So the captain, out of frustration, just gave him a dollar out of his pocket to get it over with. Actually setting up the paper work to collect 1$ from the government would have been too much of a hassle. So Feynman did what he always does. He bought donuts (for lot more than a dollar I assume) started going around the lab saying, "Have a donut, I got a dollar from the Army for my patent". The lab was full of people who had signed over 40 or 50 patents to the government. They all started pestering the captain for their dollars. And Feynman had a hearty laugh at the captain.

Most of these patents do not strike me as non-obvious at all. Just "do the same old thing, but now with computers!" and apply for a patent.

Hey Tivo, rev my series 1 and we'll talk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29219837)

I bought into Tivo early with my series 1. Added a bigger drive. bought the lifetime sub. Bought half a dozen tivos for friends. Got the ethernet card from 9thtee

Then you dropped me like a bad habit. Lots of bugs. Missing features. Other things. How hard would it be to task a few guys with updating the series 1 code and releasing a new rev? Hell, I'll even pay $50 for a huge software update at this point. But nooooooooooooooooo. I got dropped. Moved on. Told to hop on the hampster wheel.

And, you started "making deals". It wasn't "TV my way", it was "TV with some strings, just fewer". Go back to screwing the cable company and building awesome technology, and the revenue will come back.

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