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Microsoft Sues TiVo

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the i've-got-patent-pending dept.

Microsoft 112

doperative notes that "TiVo [is accused] of infringing four patents. Microsoft is asking that TiVo be barred from importing the digital-video recorders, which are primarily made in Mexico and sold in the U.S... The four patents in the ITC case relate to program schedules and selection, controlling the interface, and a way to restrict use of the DVR based on the program’s rating."

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112 comments

The Complaint and Patents (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994174)

"Sue" isn't the best choice of words here. It was an ITC Complaint [scribd.com] that Microsoft hopes will result in the banning of TiVo imports from Mexico that allegedly infringe on Microsoft's patents. The patents are 5,585,838 [uspto.gov] , 5,731,844 [uspto.gov] , 6,028,604 [uspto.gov] , and 5,758,258 [uspto.gov] . You can find confirmation from Microsoft's mouth here [winrumors.com] .

Re:The Complaint and Patents (5, Informative)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994442)

You can find confirmation from Microsoft's mouth here [winrumors.com] .

And in the winrumors link you supplied, it says that MS took this route ".. days after Tivo brought a lawsuit against close Microsoft partner, AT&T". Surprise!

Re:The Complaint and Patents (4, Interesting)

sortadan (786274) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998138)

as a long time tivo customer, i feel comfortable saying go microsoft!

tivo cares nothing for it's users, and the sooner they go out of business the better.

once upon a time they had a great product, and they made it terrible by forcing annoying advertisements in all their menus, as soon as you pause anything, over live tv when a product is featured, and they don't provide digital over the air programming info for non-cable subscribers. 100% of customer contact goes through a call center which is powerless to perform all but the most basic tasks.

/rant

Re:The Complaint and Patents (1)

imag0 (605684) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999088)

once upon a time they had a great product, and they made it terrible by forcing annoying advertisements in all their menus, as soon as you pause anything, over live tv when a product is featured, and they don't provide digital over the air programming info for non-cable subscribers. 100% of customer contact goes through a call center which is powerless to perform all but the most basic tasks.

/rant

that's odd. I've never seen an advertisement whenever pausing live TV, or when pausing recorded shows. Yes, there's a 'more about $foo_show' item that pops up, but I clicked on it exactly once years ago and never noticed it again.

I'm unsure about the OTA programming thing, but since the device is basically geared to be a 'cable box replacement'. It has a niche and it's a good one.

All the times I've called the TiVO call center (it was in Canada, I believe) the techs were quick, gave good answers to my questions, and even help me grandfather in my USD12.99/mo subscription on to my Premiere device.

I've used MS-based DVR's in the past and was shocked at the poor quality and glaring usability problems.

Re:The Complaint and Patents (1)

mldi (1598123) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000472)

Yes, because less competition always results in better products for the consumer at lower costs.

Re:The Complaint and Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001030)

TiVo still exist? I remember them from 10 years ago, appeared in stores, flopped after 3 months on sale, never to be seen again.

Re:The Complaint and Patents (5, Informative)

LO0G (606364) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994460)

TFS leaves out one critical point in TFA. This complaint is in reaction to TiVo suing AT&T (and Microsoft since the software in question was written by Microsoft (MediaRoom)).

This isn't as simple as "big bad Microsoft is suing poor little TiVo". According to TFA, this is just another volley in a protracted lawsuit.

Re:The Complaint and Patents (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994722)

It leaves out a couple of points, anoher important one is that they're in discussion for a cross-licensing agrement.

Re:The Complaint and Patents (2)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995600)

yes, and they're taking the ITC loophole, which is only used whenever someone is going for damage (but not to actually prove anything in court)

Microsoft Owns the Law (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994536)

It's simple to understand if you try. Nobody can complain of or sue Microsoft effectively. Microsoft can use the law to bust someone's balls for something. End of legal theory.

Re:Microsoft Owns the Law (3, Insightful)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995536)

Nobody can complain of or sue Microsoft effectively. Microsoft can use the law to bust someone's balls for something.

What about Eolas (don't want to link to a patent troll), which sued Microsoft for auto-activated controls in a web browser and won half a billion dollars? Or i4i which sued them for being able to edit custom XML tags in Office 2007 and won $290 million? Oh, and Sun sued them over Java and won, although that resulted in Java not being installed by default on the dominant platform which I always thought was a terrible outcome for Sun.

I am sure that there are plenty of other examples, but those are the ones that jumped to mind. Most lawsuits end in private settlements so we never know the final figure.

Re:Microsoft Owns the Law (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995892)

Ok, you win, let's sue them.

Re:Microsoft Owns the Law (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995970)

Eolas was a patent troll. in that case I very much wanted MSFT to win simply to kill off a patent troll.

What is needed is a method of killing patent trolls from being able to sue. Like you have to have a shipping product in 3-5 years from the date the patent was granted or else the patent is invalid.

Re:Microsoft Owns the Law (3, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996738)

No, MS winning against Eolas wouldn't have helped anything or changed the situation. If someone has to be a patent troll, I'm happy to see them go after Microsoft and other big monopolists and take away some of their cash. I haven't seen Eolas suing anyone else, such as Opera or Mozilla, so I don't feel to badly about them.

What I would have liked to see in that situation was MS do something useful with their power, and pressure government to fix the patent laws so that they silliness with software patents is stopped. But they didn't do that; they'd rather pay $500M so they can keep using their software patents as offensive weapons against smaller competitors.

Re:Microsoft Owns the Law (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996798)

What is needed is a method of killing patent trolls from being able to sue. Like you have to have a shipping product in 3-5 years from the date the patent was granted or else the patent is invalid.

Certainly for a trivial little idea like the one that Eolas came up with, then I whole heartedly agree. But I am not so sure when it comes to a field like medicine that is exceedingly complicated and yet incredibly expensive to develop to a final product. For example, a company or university might come up with a method of getting a chemical to a part of the body to which it is difficult or dangerous to administer medicine in a conventional way. It might be a revolutionary technique that may one day lead to new cures, but it doesn't mean that they can also come up with the actual cure. They have to leave part that to others.

Most great ideas/technologies are developed by standing on the shoulders of giants [wikipedia.org] . The question is, how do you compensate those giants without being able to have purely abstract patents?

What I would like to see is a certain level of sophistication be required before a patent is allowed. I don't think that I will find too much opposition to that viewpoint around here!

Re:Microsoft Owns the Law (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997308)

Software isn't real though. Once you make it once you can duplicate it an infinite amount of times. drugs, physical objects all deserve patents.

Software, methods, etc shouldn't be patentable to begin with. someone has a patent on manually collating files by laying them on a table and walking around that table taking one sheet each time.

Is that really a patent worthy item? is there a difference between that and eolas's patent on plugins? Not really. software is already abstract and is always built on previous tools. Software should have copyright on the code/bytecode in question so that duplicating it will be wrong but patents are designed for physical objects not imaginary ones. The term Intellectual property isn't legally defined anywhere. as such it isn't a legal term and doesn't describe anything. Property can be seized Intellectual property can't be.

Re:Microsoft Owns the Law (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996148)

Nobody
Nobody except an orginisation specifically specialising in suing. By specialising in suing and not making (or even licening the making of) anything you make it extremely difficult to countersue.

Data compatibility "reasonable efforts" law? (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994756)

We need a law to be able to sue large monopolies for damages when incurring undue wasted time, costs and labor as a direct result from from intentionally-designed features to lock users into their products. Software companies must make a "reasonable" effort to make data formats documented, understandable and compatible. "Reasonable", of course, is at least somewhat compatible with the size and resources of the company, the market, and the budgets for the products. It is understood that the company owns the software they create, and the client owns the data they create.

Re:Data compatibility "reasonable efforts" law? (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995646)

Do you know what is ON the scales of justice now? Piles of cash.

That's why we are so screwed. The honest little man (or corporation) can't be heard over the piles of cash being dropped from the ceiling.

Re:Data compatibility "reasonable efforts" law? (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995854)

Piles of cash have to be counterbalanced with volume of noisemakers.

Re:The Complaint and Patents (2)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994884)

They are suing Tivo [reuters.com] in Seattle as well.
From the article:

SEATTLE, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) sued digital video recorder company TiVo Inc (TIVO.O) on Monday...

The claims of patent infringement, made in federal court in Seattle...

emphasis mine...

Re:The Complaint and Patents (1)

RoosterRuley (679152) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996018)

After reading the abstract on 5,585,838 you mention, I wonder how does this not apply to my Dish DVR system (or any other logical DVR system one might create for that matter).

Re:The Complaint and Patents (2)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996694)

I'm pretty sure Dish and DirecTV have settled with Tivo over this and are currently paying
licensing fees to use these patents. It took a while but in the end they settled. I remember
because while I was a Dish subscriber my DVR settings kept subtly changing and Dish's blanket
reason for it was that they were working with Tivo to provide functionality that didn't
infringe. Sorry for no link, I'm sure googling for Tivo & Dish Network will provide plenty of
details.

Re:The Complaint and Patents (2)

slashdottedjoe (1448757) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996044)

Some of these patents are so lame they are beyond belief. A menu system is unique? The general feeling of a Tivo, I had one for about 8 years, reminds me of DOS apps. You know, using the arrow keys to move around. Is bringing the concept of paper menus to a computer really innovative? Instead of a cursor you use your eyes to navigate a menu and you make your selection verbally. It is obvious that a pointer and a selection button would be needed to take over the role of eyes and verbal commands. How else would they have done it? Telepathy?

Software patents are evil. I can understand a unique complex algorithm, but menus? Showing descriptions? If they had such patents in the 1970s, we probably never would have had the PC revolution.

It seems anything that has networking added is suddenly new and completely innovative, too!

Does Intel hold the patent on addition or subtraction on a cpu? Not their specific hardware implementation, but the general concept of doing math with electronics, so they can patent troll everyone? I think George Boole got ripped off then by not patenting boolean logic on anything, including fingers, hydraulics and all future implementations thereof, including the human mind.

If I imagine a menu in my head to do a task, am I infringing?

Re:The Complaint and Patents (4, Interesting)

AlwaysTheQuietOne (1983204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996098)

I've looked at those patents. They're not "inventions", they're requirements documents. If that is the criteria, I should patent everything I ever developed requirements for and coded.

Re:The Complaint and Patents (1)

mldi (1598123) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000544)

If you're willing to shell out several thousand dollars each patent, go for it! The current cost of patent is geared for A) people with serious inventions they're willing to invest in and possibly market, and B) megacorps bathing in cash. The price structure leaves these things a bit unbalanced in multiple ways. Are you willing to fight for your patent in court? Would you really sue Microsoft if you determined they violated your patent?

In order to buy or fight a patent, you needs TONS of cash. End of story. Everyone else loses.

Time to End software Patents (3, Interesting)

bobs666 (146801) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996118)

These are not valid patents. They are just products Microsoft hopes to sell one day. So Microsoft is just abusing patent law to build the monopoly.

When will this charade be put to an end. And since when did Microsoft own the rights to the function of the 'V' chip?

Oh ya, when the patent was granted. Go figure.

Re:Time to End software Patents (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001144)

Quite the reverse, Tivo attacked Microsoft's customers and Microsoft with lawsuits for their software, these lawsuits are in retaliation to the bastard acts of Tivo, quite frankly Tivo deserve whatever they get hit with, live by the sword, die by the sword.

Re:The Complaint and Patents (3, Insightful)

BuckaBooBob (635108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997506)

This should be tossed out by the judge before it even begins...

Tivo has been selling boxes since 1999 and has been very public about it.. They are not some Overnight Success that just came out of nowhere.. If they have been infringing this lawsuit should have poped up years ago..

If Tivo added new features that are Infringing then they should be order to roll back or roll out non infringing Firmware.

If they are new granted Patents.. Tivo either has prior art or Tivo never researched enough..

If the Software Patent system isn't going to change there should be arbitration required to settle most cases thats funded by both parties to reduce the load of the Justice system...
The vast majority of patent suits should be able to be settled out of court..

Re:The Complaint and Patents (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997712)

Only skimmed through two of those patents, but damn the PTO, those gotta be some of the most obvious ideas in the world. Lining up channels in one axis, time on another, and displaying the TV show info in a "tile" at the intersection of time and channel number? I believe I've seen that layout in most TV guides since at least the 70s. The fact it highlights the "focus" position makes it patentable? I don't think so
I have ATT Uverse, and MS did a lousy job in implementing their system compared to my old DirecTV user interface. That it could be patentable, is ridiculous.
IANAL, YMMV

Satellite TV from the early 80s predates all. (2)

Viewsonic (584922) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997776)

How was Microsoft awarded any or all of them from mid to late 90s when they were already being done through Satellite TV boxes in the early 80s, maybe even late 70s?

TiVo could have made this impossible (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999774)

ITC complaints don't work against products made in the USA. Outsourcing puts your business at risk of being shut down without even losing a real court case.

Usual bullshit... (1, Informative)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994202)

From the Redmond monopoly. Microsoft can't compete on the merits of their products so they use bully tactics. How typical.

Re:Usual bullshit... (5, Interesting)

telemart73 (677670) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994466)

I respectfully disagree. Back in the day (2001?) I had a Microsoft UltimateTV for our satellite service. I felt the technology was considerably more sophisticated and easier to use than Tivo. IIRC, the user interface was much quicker and effective and it also had dual tuners. I believe MS stopped selling it less than a year after release for whatever reason. I kept using it as my preferred DVR until DirecTV released their HD DVR. Granted, these patents appear amazingly broad and I have personal issue with software patents like this, but saying MS cannot compete on merits is not true, at least in this case, IMHO.

Re:Usual bullshit... (2)

Richy_T (111409) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994652)

Microsoft can compete on merits but they stopped selling it the year after release? Could the one be the disproof of the other perhaps?

Re:Usual bullshit... (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994862)

They stop selling it but they are abusing a monopoly (the GGP troll's "point"). Could the one be the disproof of the other perhaps?

Re:Usual bullshit... (1)

telemart73 (677670) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997512)

I thought of that as I was writing but gave up attempting to write out that cognitive dissonance... I still argue that the product had better merits than Tivo did at the time and that the merit did not lead to sales. Just like the Betamax/VHS argument where one was better but did not win. Good point on your part, though.

Re:Usual bullshit... (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998338)

Microsoft can compete on merits but they stopped selling it the year after release? Could the one be the disproof of the other perhaps?

Perhaps, but not necessarily. The product could be better than any competitor's, but the marketing department decided to pull the plug for whatever reason. Recent history is full of examples of superior technology being defeated by superior marketing.

Re:Usual bullshit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34995440)

Microsoft's MediaRoom (currently available with AT&T in the US, and several companies in Canada and probably elsewhere) is top-notch. Windows Media Center is top-notch. The UI in these products is great, responsive, easy-to-use.

Re:Usual bullshit... (1)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996964)

Yeah well I had a ReplayTV which was founded 2 years before TiVo.

ReplayTV's interface was way better than TiVo's

Re:Usual bullshit... (1)

Is0m0rph (819726) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997332)

I'd agree I was still using my old Ultimate TV boxes just a couple years ago. I always found them superior to other DVRs I had tried.

Re:Usual bullshit... (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997850)

YMMV, but today I have UVerse, which uses MS software. The user interface is a peice of crap, slow and cumbersome. It's not unusual to hit a menu selection and have nothing happen for several seconds, so you hit it again, only to have it flick on and off, as it finally catches up to your two clicks. Also, it lacks features my DirecTV interface had, e.g. the "previous" button has no effect when you're in the guide; the "back" button sometimes goes back to the last screen, sometimes kicks you out of the menu system altogether; etc.

Re:Usual bullshit... (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998620)

This is the big reason I avoid U-Verse. I have this in my neighborhood now, but am wary despite having ATT for internet and mobile. So the U-Verse cultists came knocking at the door last night offering to show me salvation. We did manage to agree that Comcast was the devil. I wouldn't mind U-Verse for internet instead of DSL, if it was the same price, but it's never offered alone. So they suggested I could get U-Verse television without a contract and then cancel after a month but keep the other services. I'll probably pass on it though...

Re:Usual bullshit... (1)

Nirvelli (851945) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001050)

Engadget HD had an article not all that long ago comparing Windows Media Center to the newest TiVo, [engadget.com] and it is conveyed that Microsoft has actually had a very strong history on the software end of the DVR world.

Re:Usual bullshit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34994554)

You have no clue what you are talking about and this being /. they modded you informative too. Even though I disagree with patents, this patent has been awarded to MS and "if" Tivo has copied then it is their fault. They are already in negotiations with MS for licensing agreement. That shows that their is some truth to the complaint. There is no bullying going on.

Re:Usual bullshit... (4, Insightful)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994754)

Yes, no clue from someone who has watched MS since the late '80s, when they were still producing Xenix, had hijacked IBM's DOS and called it their own, the DR DOS debacle, the bad treatment of WordPerfect, Novell, et alia, the payoffs to SCO, and now they're suing to help out their customer, AT&T in defense of a lawsuit in which MS has no firsthand involvement. Why did MS stop selling that TV? Could it be that they weren't seeing the customer demand for their own products that other companies like TiVO were? My disdainful comment stands, gents, sorry.

Re:Usual bullshit... (1)

wmac (1107843) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995256)

Hijacked IBM's!!! DOS???!!! Did IBM develop the operating system? Or just licensed it from Microsoft?!

Re:Usual bullshit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34995602)

SCP + MS wrote DOS 1

DOS v1 had 301 confirmed bugs in IBM's bugs database so IBM wrote DOS 1.1 from scratch, all versions since are built on that version, so GP is partly right

Re:Usual bullshit... (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996334)

DOS v1 had 301 confirmed bugs in IBM's bugs database so IBM wrote DOS 1.1 from scratch, all versions since are built on that version

According to the Wikipedia entry on IBM PC-DOS [wikipedia.org] , DOS 1.1 was written by Tim Paterson (the original author of 86-DOS) after he started work at Microsoft. A quick scan of Google seemed to back up the idea that Microsoft wrote DOS 1.1 for IBM [fortunecity.com] .

Re:Usual bullshit... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996204)

Yes, no clue from someone who has watched MS since the late '80s, when they were still producing Xenix, had hijacked IBM's DOS and called it their own, the DR DOS debacle, the bad treatment of WordPerfect, Novell, et alia, the payoffs to SCO, and now they're suing to help out their customer, AT&T in defense of a lawsuit in which MS has no firsthand involvement.

Although I agree with your comment and would add "stacker/doublespace", the "hijacked IBM's DOS and called it their own" was incorrect. MS bought most of that OS from someone else, modified it, and kept the copyrights to it; IBM saw no problem with that, since they thought nobody would ever be able to clone their BIOS. IBM could have bought DOS outright had they wanted to, or even written their own OS, but they saw the PC as merely a toy, not worth much.

With all the underhanded things MS has done, you can't blame them for that one.

Re:Usual bullshit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34994634)

Microsoft:TiVO::Apple:HTC?

Re:Usual bullshit... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994726)

Nope. It's Tivo that's the patent bully here. Although it's hard to imagine how Microsoft has any leverage on Tivo here. Microsoft is the late entrant here.

Although with BS like being able to patent the enforcement of MPAA ratings, it's hard to tell what might happen.

"select title from recordings where rating = :v_PG13 ;"

Real "inventive" there...

Re:Usual bullshit... (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994968)

Look up Microsoft UltimateTV. They had something on the market at around the same time Tivo came out. That doesnt make them the "late entrant"/

Re:Usual bullshit... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995228)

Yeah. "look it up".

That's not exactly the most compelling demonstration that Microsoft was in the market in any meaningful way.

One device tied to a single vendor that was released after the Tivo and quickly was discontinued.

This is the kind of "inventor" that should not be able to hold the rest of the industry hostage. Tivo pulling this nonsense is bad enough.

Re:Usual bullshit... (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998180)

Patents aren't invalidated if your product isn't the most popular on the market.

Re:Usual bullshit... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999550)

The Wikipedia article claims that Microsoft UltimateTV died in 2003 when DirecTV was trying to merge with Dish Network, which had its own DVR. There wasn't an UltimateTV box for cable, unlike TiVo.

Poor TiVo (3, Insightful)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994212)

Always getting sued by someone.
I wonder how Microsoft can claim the patent when Tivo was first with the DVR capability. Also: Why did microsoft wait almost 15 years to bring this complaint? Why the delay Borgified Bill.

Re:Poor TiVo (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34994284)

They're probably working on a product themselves, and decided that rather than working to develop it, they'd rather force TiVo's bottom to drop out and pick them up for a nickel or 3.

Re:Poor TiVo (-1, Flamebait)

godefroi (52421) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994622)

Good. TiVo sucks, maybe MS can fix it. I, for one, think it's unlikely. I wouldn't, however, be sad to see TiVo go, since maybe then they'd leave my DVR alone. It's not as pretty as a TiVo, and it makes far less "bleeps" and "bloops", but that's OK with me.

Re:Poor TiVo (1)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995770)

Has Tivo gotten worse? I had one of the original ones and I loved it. Since then I've had DVR's from Comcast (mediocre), Time Warner (the worst by far), Dish (mediocre), AT&T Uverse (ok), and now DirecTV (ok). It's been 10 years since I had a Tivo so I may only be remembering the good parts, but it seemed better than anything else since, which is pathetic.

All of them are painfully underpowered. Scrolling through the guide is always waaaay too slow. What really sucks is that the cable companies usually only offer a single model of DVR. I would gladly pay a higher fee to have a lightning fast DVR.

Re:Poor TiVo (1)

joeszilagyi (635484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995884)

I don't know why people bag on Tivo. Of the canned products like this, it's by far the best. Once you have the Tivo desktop program as well, and integrate Netflix and Amazon into it, it's stupidly powerful as a cheap media server for any idiot to use. The thing to remember about their GUIs is they're not designed for us--the crowd reading this comment. It's designed for my grandmother. And what else do I need, as a nerd? I don't need 24th century LCARs. I need to turn on the TV, hit transfer for the soccer game I downloaded from overseas off of my PC, push play on my recording of Hawaii 5-0, and then later watch a streaming movie with the minimum of brain power. All of that is like 5-10 remote clicks in cute interfaces, and like I said, even my grandmother could figure it out.

Re:Poor TiVo (1)

godefroi (52421) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996680)

Which is why, more and more, I seriously consider dropping my TV service completely and doing everything through my xbmc. Once Netflix is stable in there, I probably will.

Re:Poor TiVo (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999466)

I seriously consider dropping my TV service completely and doing everything through my xbmc.

Sure, Netflix can replace scripted drama and comedy channels such as USA. But is there a viable alternative to cable or satellite TV service for live news analysis and opinion (e.g. MSNBC) or live sports (e.g. ESPN, Speed)?

Re:Poor TiVo (1)

swrider (854292) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996102)

All of them are painfully underpowered. Scrolling through the guide is always waaaay too slow. .

I don't know about the others and I haven't seen a recent Comcast DVR, but one reason they were extremely painful and slow is that the DVR made a round trip request to a Comcast server on every button push.

I have had multiple TiVo's from a series 1 through my current HD Dual Tuner with cable cards. The interface needs an update, but is still pretty good. Maybe the Web version is snazzier, but I haven't forked over the dollars to upgrade.

Re:Poor TiVo (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998660)

My DirecTV+Tivo (integrated) is very nice. I really don't know why DirecTV now has their own version which I hear isn't as good. My suspicion is that they just want to save money. I wouldn't mind an upgraded Tivo, as it's been getting a bit buggy, could use more space with newer/quieter hard drives, etc. But there currently is no alternative that seems to match it.

Re:Poor TiVo (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994556)

I wonder how Microsoft can claim the patent when Tivo was first with the DVR capability.

Because they filed for and, with the exception of one of the patents, received the patent years before TiVO was ever released?

Re:Poor TiVo (2)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994636)

first to invent, not first to file. thats the rule.

Re:Poor TiVo (2)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994972)

IIRC, it depends on where you are. Rules vary by country. I think the US is first to invent, while most of the rest of the world is first to file. Of course, you have established that TiVo was first to invent either, only that they were first to market successfully.

Re:Poor TiVo (1)

godefroi (52421) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994578)

The patents aren't about DVR capability. Now you don't have to wonder anymore.

Borgified Bill has left the building (1)

mschaffer (97223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994642)

Perhaps a Borgified Balmer?

Re:Poor TiVo (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994818)

They didn't "wait" for anything; this is in response to Tivo suing ATT [cbsnews.com]
over software Microsoft provides to ATT for their U-Verse product. I dislike software
patents and am no fan of Microsoft but I can't say I have much sympathy for Tivo
with regards to this matter either.

Re:Poor TiVo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34994938)

oh - lets not forget TiVO suing / trying to sue dish network for a digital to digital recorder when all of TiVOs patents are based around analog to digital or digital to analog to digital recorders.

They got counter-sued by dish network for their attempt to make an all digital recorder.

Re:Poor TiVo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34994954)

Microsoft was working on TV on demand in 1994 (I was tangentially involved on the performance side). It shouldn't be surprising if they have a bunch of patents in this area.

Was that part of TCI Your Choice TV test in IL (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996034)

Was that part of TCI Your Choice TV test on the mount prospect IL super head end back in 1993 / 1994?

Re:Was that part of TCI Your Choice TV test in IL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34996794)

I don't remember. Microsoft held a meeting in late '94 where they described the architecture and asked for assistance from third party performance specialists. I was the representative for one such company, but MS went with someone else. I did say my involvement was tangential!

Re:Poor TiVo (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995018)

They're not claiming a patent on the DVR itself.

The four patents in the ITC case relate to program schedules and selection, controlling the interface, and a way to restrict use of the DVR based on the program's rating. Microsoft said the technology is used in its Mediaroom software that runs on competing set-top boxes including AT&T's U-Verse service.

Also: Why did microsoft wait almost 15 years to bring this complaint?

The ITC case opens a new front in a battle that began more than a year ago when Microsoft challenged TiVo patents that were
being asserted against AT&T Inc., a customer of the Redmond, Washington-based software maker.

MS's suit was in effect a self-protective measure.

Re:Poor TiVo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34995244)

Always getting sued by someone.
I wonder how Microsoft can claim the patent when Tivo was first with the DVR capability. Also: Why did microsoft wait almost 15 years to bring this complaint? Why the delay Borgified Bill.

No, ReplayTV came out PRIOR to Tivo

Re:Poor TiVo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34997784)

Let's not forget Windows XP Media Center Edition - it had DVR capability.
ATI / Hauppage tv tuner software had that as well.

Hooray! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34994234)

Hooray for Microsoft!
Hooray for Patents!
Hooray for Greed!

rating? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34994274)

>restrict use of the DVR based on the program’s rating.

Isn't that what the rating was put there FOR? my god, how did they get a patent on that?!!?

Re:rating? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34994732)

At this point, you should save your incredulity for when the PTO actually rejects a patent application. It'd be much less work.

Re:rating? (1)

Chowderbags (847952) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996580)

No one else thought it made any sense to, so Microsoft wrote some nonsense, sent it into the patent office, and, what do you know, they managed to get a patent?

Re:rating? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34997660)

It reminds me of the article that the people sued the sawblade company for not using patented software to prevent them from cutting their hand off. I'm sure the same thing would happen when kids w

Funny... (3, Interesting)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994288)

Funny how three of the patents were granted just at the time the Tivo must have been in final development.

Re:Funny... (3, Informative)

godefroi (52421) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994638)

Why's that funny? I don't see the connection. What would be more interesting is when the patents were FILED in relationship to the TiVo development.

Re:Funny... (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995270)

Its funny because vanishingly few Slashdot readers have any idea how patents work or how to read and understand them.

He didn't realize he's the one that is funny.

Old icon (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34994448)

Why Bill Gates icon still there? Is this article about charity? Why not replace it by Developers-developers-flying-chairs?

Han Shot First (1)

Carcass666 (539381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34994658)

Reading this post [winrumors.com] and TFA, the chronology seems to be that Tivo sued first. If this is the case, then Microsoft is doing exactly what they should be doing, bitch-smacking Tivo on behalf of its customer, AT&T. This is how companies expect their vendors to cover their asses. Pay attention Google.

Looks retaliatory and I welcome the smoking crater (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34994994)

As usual, for all my hatred of Microsoft, whenever I hear about their lawyers doing something I am usually on their side. Tivo was the one who initiated the use of force in trying to keep MS crap off the market. Microsoft is merely retaliating.

What sucks here is that it looks like AT&T customers are the ones who are really getting fucked, indirectly ending up as Microsoft customers, probably not being informed of that prior to spending money. That is lame and irresponsible, yet another reason to never do business with AT&T.

But saying the government should prohibit MS from having DVRs -- that's even worse. You go crying to the government, then you deserve to lose 100% of your equity. I hope Microsoft wins this one and Tivo ends up being the one who is legally prohibited from doing business anymore. And then I hope that the few Tivo stockholders who don't end up homeless, spend whatever dollars they have left, on lobbying to repeal bullshit patent laws so that this kind of destruction stops happening.

Pot calling the kettle black (1)

elkstoy (930915) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995936)

The old phrase, "pot calling the kettle black" comes to mind. What hasn't Microsoft infringed on?

Strategy shift? (1)

youn (1516637) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995978)

Is it only me or is Microsoft being a lot more agressive in litigation by suing a lot more and sponsoring people who sue competition. Not sure if it is a strategy shift since Bill Gates left or they just decided to attack competition in a more open way. Before, they would just change the protocols (like samba) so it was not backward compatible

maybe I am seeing something when there isn't... who knows?

Made in Mexico?? (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996670)

As a fellow Mexican /. reader, I am interested in any reference to the assertion that TiVos are made in Mexico.

Does anyone has an article saying that?

mmod 3own (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34997782)

munche5 the 8ost [goat.cx]

Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34997872)

These patents seem to describe every TV guide type application since the dawn of on screen guides. This does apply to just Tivo but anyone who does any sort of on screen channel viewing with information about the channel. Technically they could sue ANY and ALL cable companies who make a DVR. This is just another example of how patents are too loose and when a lawsuit like this comes about with something that has been ignored for years and would hinder technological development it should just be burned and erased from existence. What is it going to hurt? It is not like this technology isn't used everywhere already. Patents are just created for money collecting down the road and serve no purpose but stopping creative development. I don't mind people getting credit for inventing something but if only one company can use a technology and there is no competition it won't drive the product to get better.

The Real Motive here ... (1)

ryan.onsrc (1321531) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998512)

... is to give Apple some more reason to hesitate before entering the DVR market (by leveraging the AppleTV and possibly acquiring TiVo out-right). At this point, Apple's dominance in mobile computing and its ability to further extend its domination into Television programming puts a squeeze on Microsoft's ability to hold its ground.

If I were wrong, Microsoft is simply wasting their time (or just being plain mean) filing a lawsuit against a company that has a single niche product and little, if any, risk extending themselves into other markets (unlike Apple). At this point, I wouldn't put it past them to be blundering bullies but my gut tells me they are actually being sneaky this time.

Re:The Real Motive here ... (1)

superjordo (768775) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000466)

Agree. Microsoft is in a good place to p0wn living room PC's b/c of the XBox. I bet what's going on here is they're (finally) getting serious about putting DVR in the XBox and TiVo (and its patents) are in the way.

Re:The Real Motive here ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001190)

Tivo sued MS first, this is not MS going about agressively chasing down people with there patents, this is MS trying to bitch slap a patent litigator, ie Tivo, who is attacking Microsoft customers with lawsuits. for once I wish MS good luck.

Karma is a bitch, isn't it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34998806)

Payback can be a b#$ch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001024)

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. TiVo's been suing companys for years, especially Dish Network. I hope they get sued real good.

Another example why Mono is a ticking time bomb (1)

msisamonopoly (908159) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001196)

As Microsoft's strategy of using patents against competition gains momentum, with attacks such as this against TiVo, it yet again highlights that Mono is a ticking time bomb that should be avoided.
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