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TiVo vs EchoStar - TiVo Wins

CowboyNeal posted about 8 years ago | from the set-top-battles dept.

256

ssuchter writes "A jury just ruled in favor of TiVo in their suit against EchoStar, awarding TiVo $73M of the $87M they asked for. From the article: 'TiVo had sought $87 million in damages from the Dish satellite-TV network in a patent dispute that TiVo lawyers said could be "life or death" for the company that sold the first box for pausing and rewinding live television.'"

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256 comments

EchoStar was so shocked (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15126576)

They had to rewatch the decision 7 times on their TiVo.

Re:EchoStar was so shocked (1)

Bodhammer (559311) | about 8 years ago | (#15127208)

Yss, but they used the 30-sec skip through the American Idol spot and the Katie Couric announcment...

Tsco? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15126578)

Looks like tivo is taking a page out of the sco handbook... their only profitable division is their legal dept.

The judge owns a Tivo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15126593)

Mistrial! ;)

Re:The judge owns a Tivo? (1)

Jason1729 (561790) | about 8 years ago | (#15127321)

Going by their miniscule market penetration, I would doubt he has one.

Let's just hope Echostar appeals and wins.

Well, this saves Tivos butt... (5, Insightful)

Abreu (173023) | about 8 years ago | (#15126595)

Good to hear an innovative company is able to have its patent respected...

Bad thing is, the lifespan on a patent will probably make that what is right now good news, later becomes bad news

Re:Well, this saves Tivos butt... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15126611)

That is not bad news at all. TiVo will make lots of money until the patents expire, but that is many years away. By then TiVo plans to be well entrenched in the household and be making money off of advertising, by redefining the way we watch TV ads (yes, we will still "watch" ads, but more like we "read" magazine ads or Google ads). The patent money is just a stepping stone towards TiVo's ultimate goal of being the Google of TV advertising.

Re:Well, this saves Tivos butt... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15126712)

"Good to hear an innovative company is able to have its patent respected..."

This patent is probably among the most innovative ideas to face mankind.

I'm bewildered considering the difficulty and creativity required to consider pausing, rewinding, or fast-forwarding recordings on a hard drive. It's almost as impressive as pausing, rewinding, or fast-forwarding recordings on holographic memory (for which I hope to file a patent). And far more innovative than pausing, rewinding, or fast-forwarding recordings on magnetic tape.

Re:Well, this saves Tivos butt... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15126860)

Reading from and writing to a hard disk at the same time, wow. That's an amazing innovation. Why didn't someone think of that before? Oh wait someone did you just couldn't patent software way back then.

Re:Well, this saves Tivos butt... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15127454)

How is that good? It's a software patent. Software patents SUCK. And TiVo is also known for abusing Linux and other GPLed software by using it in a DRM context where you can't change your Free Software and still have it working, basically circumventing the entire purpose of the GPL. (They're one of the reasons the GPL v3 is being written.) So why are you (and those people saying essentially the same thing a few posts later who really ought to be modded Redundant) defending TiVo that much?

Idiot Lawyer (4, Insightful)

MDMurphy (208495) | about 8 years ago | (#15126596)

If EchoStar's lawyers argued the case with lines like:

  "I don't think 190,000 people would have bought this particular toy if they could have gotten it free from their cable company."

no wonder they lost. I think that was TiVo's point, free boxes from the cable companies ( if you want to call subsidized by higher cable rates "free") cost Tivo sales.

Tivo boxes are free now (1)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | about 8 years ago | (#15126605)

Tivo has a current promotion in which you actually get the box for free.

--

On another note, while this is a victory, it is not that much. 73 million does not go a long way now, however, it will stave off the Tivo is dead people because now Tivo will have some operating cash flow (assuming they get it quickly; with appeals, maybe in the next five years).

Re:Tivo boxes are free now (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15126643)

You miss the point. First off, the jury ruled the infringement was knowingly done, ie, deliberate, so the judge could triple the damages awarded to TiVo.

But it's not about one settlement from Dish/Echostar. TiVo will make much more money licensing its patents, and selling its software and services. Five years down the road and the money TiVo will be making in new business will make this award money look like chickenfeed. It's about getting TiVo's patents enforced, and getting cable companies and satellite companies to do business with TiVo. It's the legal decision that matters, not the size of the monetary award.

Re:Idiot Lawyer (1)

craXORjack (726120) | about 8 years ago | (#15126644)

I think that was TiVo's point, free boxes from the cable companies ( if you want to call subsidized by higher cable rates "free") cost Tivo sales.

That didn't save Netscape. EchoStar should have "integrated" the box into their service and called themselves "innovative".

Re:Idiot Lawyer (5, Insightful)

Jerf (17166) | about 8 years ago | (#15126659)

if you want to call subsidized by higher cable rates "free"

I have a simple rule: s/free/paid-for/g, in all promotional material.

Then you think about who is paying for it.

Every once in a while, the answer won't be "you, the customer", and that's when you should jump if you're interested. But usually, it's you.

Re:Idiot Lawyer (1)

MBCook (132727) | about 8 years ago | (#15126760)

Reminds me of a story a teacher told me about two idiots that he overheard one day while he was in the military. They were all the gym on the base (he didn't know them) and the two men were talking about needing to buy a gym membership in town. The second man said he didn't want to pay for it, and the first guy said "Join the gym I did, it's free."

"Really, it's FREE?" said the second guy?

The first guy responded "Yeah. You just pay them $25 on the first day of the month, and it's free the rest of the days of the month!"

The second guy was impressed, and the first guy continued on about how if you paid them $60 on the first of the month, they would let you in for the next 4 months for free, etc.

No one seems to realize what "free" is these days.

Oh great.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15126619)

So I have an EchoStar DVR, this mean the DISH networks goons are going to have to 'upgrade' it?

Re:Oh great.. (1)

Mr Pippin (659094) | about 8 years ago | (#15126944)

That does raise an interesting possibility. Will EchoStar negotiate a settlement by shipping Tivo as their DVR management solution in all future units. Basically, DirecTV exits the Tivo relationship, while EchoStar starts?
It might be more interesting if this gives DirecTV a nudge back to Tivo.

Re:Oh great.. (1)

Babbster (107076) | about 8 years ago | (#15127045)

It seems like both Dish and DirecTV would have to work closely with TiVo in terms of licensing in order to retain functionality - assuming, of course, that this isn't already happening at DirecTV. But it doesn't necessarily have to just be the satellite companies. Most (all?) of the major cable companies have PVRs available, and if their boxes infringe on TiVo's patents they'd better be getting ready to either downgrade their systems or belly up to TiVo's bar and ordering up some licensing...

Re:Oh great.. (2, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | about 8 years ago | (#15127128)

Unfortuantly, it's more likely that a patent license will be in the works for DirecTV. DirecTV seems more interested in limiting functionality to it's users than Tivo. If I can't Tivo with DirecTV anymore, they'll lose a customer, because their new DVR is just a DVR, it doesn't do what you expect your Tivo to do.

More expense for the consumer (1)

John the Kiwi (653757) | about 8 years ago | (#15126637)

Great win for Intellectual Property rights, now the public will have more expensive PVR's.

Shame there always has to be a trade off :(

Re:More expense for the consumer (1)

Hellad (691810) | about 8 years ago | (#15126655)

Considering a tivo box is typically going for about $50 after rebate, I am not sure that the trade off is all that big...

Re:More expense for the consumer (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15126693)

Trust me, the cable DVRs were never really "free". You were paying for it somewhere in your cable bill, anyway. Now, all that will change is maybe a few bucks will go to TiVo, Inc., instead of into the pockets of the cable companies. I doubt anyone will notice the change.

What is a big plus is that the chances are greatly increased that cable subsribers will have the option of using the vastly superior TiVo software on their cable DVRs (as will soon be the case for some Comcast subscribers), rather than the slapdash piece of crap DVR software that is currently offered to cable subscribers because the cable companies know the customer don't have any choice and don't know what they are missing. That will change, thanks to this legal decision.

Re:More expense for the consumer (2, Insightful)

homer_ca (144738) | about 8 years ago | (#15127349)

I know it's not free, but most cable company DVRs cost about $10/month extra which is about the same price as Tivo's program guide service. If they're making money at all, it's probably from jacking up the base price of cable TV to subsidize low (possibly predatory) pricing.

So, uh (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15126646)

TiVo's suing competitors for patent infringement rather than trying to outcompete them.

Is MythTV next?

Re:So, uh (1)

jCaT (1320) | about 8 years ago | (#15127297)

You know, sometimes the patent debate isn't so cut and dried. In this case, tivo actually has a product that was something new and innovative, as opposed to something like "1-click ordering". IFF MythTV really did infringe on the tivo patents, I might support them- but there's no money in it for them. How much are they going to get off the guys, $19 in loose change and a couple of Arby's two-for-one coupons? Certainly not $78 million!

Expected outcome, also expected to be appealed (5, Informative)

nsafreak (523874) | about 8 years ago | (#15126669)

Well Tivo did win the first trial (or the first battle in the war) but this is far from over. Let's look at a few points: 1) EchoStar posted profits of 1.5 billion [cnn.com] for the year 2005. Tivo by contrast hasn't posted any profits and has lost close to half a billion since their inception. So guess who has the bigger pockets? 2) The next court that EchoStar will likely appeal to typically overturns 40% of the lower court rulings 3) Tivo's patent is currently being investigated by the US Patent Office. If they revoke that patent you can pretty much kiss Tivo good bye. It should be interesting to see how this battle continues.

Re:Expected outcome, also expected to be appealed (3, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | about 8 years ago | (#15126720)

>>f they revoke that patent you can pretty much kiss Tivo good bye.

Then so f'n long. Its not the job of the courts to make sure you remain profitable. Especially over their "time warping patent [taletyano.com]" which in a nutshell is "we patent computers recording tv video for later playback." Uhh, no. Hope you lose. There's a difference between first to market and innovation. They've been nice enough to stay away from MythTV but waiting on the niceness of corporations isn't what I call justice. Tivo's patent should be revoked. Hell, they havent made a profit in years (ever?) so these patents aren't exactly holding them together to begin with.

I'd rather kiss Tivo goodbye than anything that resembles a tivo (like mythtv) because of silly american patent law. If it takes another silly suit from echostar to question this patent, then all the better. No one else can afford to take Tivo on. There's no ACLU for ridiculous patents to fight the patent abusers.

Re:Expected outcome, also expected to be appealed (4, Informative)

MagikSlinger (259969) | about 8 years ago | (#15126728)

I do feel sorry for TiVO, but on the other hand, can anyone read the TiVO patents and explain in plain english was exactly they patented? Even if it is just a "method and system" for digitizing video onto a hard-disk for random-access playback by the user, it would qualify as a novel invention in my books. It's just that, well... didn't the broadcast industry have that LONG before we did? And the basic idea of pausing live television was also used by television networks for instant replay which even used a hard-disk (but an analog one, if memory serves).

I just hope TiVO doesn't get greedy and either tries to become a) an honest corporate citizen and tries to make win-win licensing deals with their competitors, or b) realise that the money is in the "bits about bits" and that their real cash cow is the recommendation service and TV guide.

Re:Expected outcome, also expected to be appealed (3, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | about 8 years ago | (#15126769)

>>novel invention in my books. I

Take videotape out. Check. Put hard drive in. Check. Get patent. [taletyano.com] Check. Novel invention?

Recording television and watching it later. Hmm. I was doing this as a kid on my dad's old Betamax in the early 80s. Lets not push it here. Its a shame that companies like google and tivo have this geek halo around them, where we all just decide to give them a severe double standard. I'm certain if MS had this patent blood would be spilled by now.

Re:Expected outcome, also expected to be appealed (2, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | about 8 years ago | (#15127068)

Could you record to and playback from random locations on that video tape at the same time? No? Well then they did way more than replace a tape with a drive, didn't they?

You try taking a hard drive from 1997 and recording and playing back MPEG2 data in real time simutaniously on it. You already know they figured it out, and it would still be a challenge even if you were an expert (which it seems fairly clear you aren't since you con't grasp the complexity of the problem).

Re:Expected outcome, also expected to be appealed (2, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 8 years ago | (#15127164)

You try taking a hard drive from 1997 and recording and playing back MPEG2 data in real time simutaniously on it. You already know they figured it out, and it would still be a challenge even if you were an expert (which it seems fairly clear you aren't since you con't grasp the complexity of the problem).

The difficulty of that in 1997 was a function of the crappy hard drives of the day. But what does that have to do with the current situation? TiVo's patent is still in force for hard drives that can easily handle a dozen streams. Today, on any linux box with a MPEG capture card I could type:

$ cat /dev/video > foo.mpg &
$ mplayer foo.mpg

(now hit spacebar to pause and unpause video)
...and I'd be violating this patent. That wasn't hard at all. The problem isn't complex.

Re:Expected outcome, also expected to be appealed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15127093)

Well...the problem is that even if Tivo patented "digitizing television recordings"...they wouldnt be able to fight Dish Network.

Dish network doesnt "digitize live TV"....Dish sends out its signal in a digital format already. All DishNet does is buffer the video onto a hard drive.

The technology behind DishPVR and Tivo is remarkably different. The only similarity between the two technologies is that they "put" TV onto a harddrive. They do it in completely different ways and they have completely different interfaces.

I completely agree that Tivo should fight for its patent rights....but unless Tivo holds the patent on harddrives....I think they are barking up the wrong tree.

Just watch....this will eventually fail.
Tivo might be able to go after the cable companies....
but since Dish is operating in a completely different technological sphere(direct broadcast satellite using a digital signal vs. analog signal over terrestrial wires) I think this is silly

Re:Expected outcome, also expected to be appealed (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 8 years ago | (#15126729)

Yeah, but Echostar is one of the very few entertainment/media companies I still respect. It's a shame.

Re:Expected outcome, also expected to be appealed (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15126773)

You're spewing FUD.

It's routine to "investigate" patents when they come under dispute in legal cases, so whatever the US Patent office is doing does not mean squat unless they actually invalidate TiVo's patents, which is extremely unlikely.

As for being reversed on appeal, that is unlikely as well. If you have been following the case you will realize how solid TiVo's case is. There are no weak points that are going to make a reversal on appeal likely.

As for your talk about who has "deep pockets": that's more bullshit FUD. TiVo has more than enough money to fight this case on appeal as far as Echostar wants to take it.

TiVo picked this patent fight with Echostar because it was an open and shut case: Echostar was by far the easiest target and most flagrant violator of TiVo's patents to go after. TiVo was smart: they didn't sue everyone in sight who were arguably violating their patents, they waited until they had the closest thing they could get to the perfect case.

Echostar has lost, will lose, will continue to lose, until they are finally forced to face reality.

"multimedia time warping system" (4, Interesting)

Cthefuture (665326) | about 8 years ago | (#15126681)

What the hell kind of patent is that?

What kinds of patents does TiVo actually have? Are things like MythTV at risk?

I have been considering writing my own Myth-like software. I would hate to get it shut down because of some stupid GUI patent or something.

Some of TIVO's US patents (4, Informative)

nebaz (453974) | about 8 years ago | (#15126756)

Found on a TiVo press release [tivo.com].

US Patents

6,850,691 - Automatic playback overshoot correction system

6,847,778 - Multimedia Visual Progress Indication System

6,792,195 - Method and Apparatus Implementing Random Access and Time-Based Functions on a Continuous Stream of Formatted Digital Data (continuation of 6,327,418)

6,757,906 - Television Viewer Interface System

They also have exclusive licensing rights to

5,241,428 - Variable-Delay Video Recorder

Japanese Patents

3615486 - Multimedia Time Warping System

Chinese Patents

ZL 99804757.0 - Method and Apparatus Implementing Random Access and Time-Based Functions on a Continuous Stream of Formatted Digital Data (see US patent 6,327,418)

ZL 00805987.X - Data Storage Management and Scheduling System

This is of March 2005, they may have more since then. Also, if you want to search the text of the US patents, you can start here [uspto.gov]

Re:"multimedia time warping system" (4, Funny)

pete-classic (75983) | about 8 years ago | (#15127102)

It's just a jump to the left . . .

-Peter

PS: Here I go again, proving there should be a "-1: I don't get it" moderation option.

I have a Dish Network PVR (721)... (5, Informative)

MrFrank (261142) | about 8 years ago | (#15126689)

... and it's not a TiVo. It's a VCR that uses disk instead of tape to do it's recording. Yeah you get the benefits of a random access storage medium, so you can watch whil you record and pause, etc.

But is doesn't have the nice features that TiVo has. I can't record all episodes of a certain show, I can only give it a time to record (and it doesn't auto adjust if a game goed long). I can't tell it to record everything for a certain actor. Amongst other things.

Now I never used a TiVo, but from what I have been told, the Dish PVR doesn't compete.

Re:I have a Dish Network PVR (721)... (1)

LordPhantom (763327) | about 8 years ago | (#15126731)

What, do you have the ghetto Dish PVR or get hosed by your sales guy?

I have the Dish 522 and -love- it. It records "new episodes" or all, or just some. Has priority scheduling, 2 tuners (record 2 shows at once while watching something else), etc, etc.

I may have to respect TiVo's patents, but I can't help but thinking that laywering up because you set your pricepoint too high for the cable companies to buy your technology really sucks for most TV consumers.

Re:I have a Dish Network PVR (721)... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15127255)

Having seen and played with EVERY Dish PVR, as well as Series 1, Series 2 and DirecTV Tivo units, I can say hands down that the Dish Network boxes are big huge steaming piles compared to ANY offering by Tivo. It's not even close.

Dish has gotten better, but they haven't even come close to the Tivo yet.

And yes, I am the current owner of 2 DirecTV Tivo units. I bought them after evaluating both Dish and DirecTv's DVR options.

Re:I have a Dish Network PVR (721)... (1)

kb7oeb (543726) | about 8 years ago | (#15127329)

Sure the 721 doesn't have dishpass but it doesn't have the $6 a month DVR fee nor is it subject to the $5 monthly fine for not connecting the phone line.

I own a DishPlayer 924 (1)

GuyverDH (232921) | about 8 years ago | (#15126733)

I've not used TiVo, however, I do own a Dish PVR - used to be their top of the line model - the 942.

Dual Dish Tuner, Off-Air TV Tuner, plus 2 outputs - seperate remotes for each output...

Here's the cool part.

I can record off both dish tuners, the off-air tuner, and watch 2 previously recorded shows on the other outputs.

So essentially 5 different things going on at once.

And yes - you can configure Dish to record all kinds of ways.

#1 All episodes of a given show.
#2 All NEW episodes of a given show - ie - only record episodes released in the current year, do not record re-runs.
#3 All shows with "xyz" in their name.

I haven't dug any further, yet I know there are more options.

Re:I have a Dish Network PVR (721)... (1)

bradkittenbrink (608877) | about 8 years ago | (#15126762)

Generic DVRs certainly don't compete with Tivo's flagship products, but there are lower cost, and non-subscription based Tivo products that lack all of those "Tivo features" you just described. Just because Tivo has a reputation for all of their whiz-bang features doesn't mean that these cheaper imitations don't compete with them.

Re:I have a Dish Network PVR (721)... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15126763)

I have a Dish PVR 625, it has the feature to record all shows and you can even give it the option to record only once, record only new shows and stuff like that. The feature is called DishPass.

Re:I have a Dish Network PVR (721)... (1)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | about 8 years ago | (#15126793)

I have 2 of the DirecTV Tivos (1 SD & 1 HD). My Brother in law has Dish. You are right. NO comparison.

I hope this is upheld in the Appeals court. (4, Insightful)

ingoldsby (924334) | about 8 years ago | (#15126705)

This was one patent I wanted to be upheld. Tivo put a lot of work into getting DVR's off the ground, and the have a rabid fanbase but almost nothing to show for it. Tivo makes a great product, I'm glad they won the first round and hope that this is the start of really good things for the company. As someone who has used the knock off's they sure didn't do a good job knocking them off, their product sucks. That said - I know a few people who absolutely love my tivo's but are content just getting by with the cable companies DVR because it only costs $6/month, which is exactly what this lawsuit is about. Sure did make my purchase of stocks last Friday pay off :)

Re:I hope this is upheld in the Appeals court. (1, Insightful)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 8 years ago | (#15127289)

tivo sold out their customers rolling out a broadcast flag type system and only stopped because they got caught.

they can die in a fire.

Mixed Feelings (5, Insightful)

logicnazi (169418) | about 8 years ago | (#15126707)

On the one hand I'm happy to see a company that created a truly new product be rewarded.

On the other hand I'm not sure that what TiVO did wasn't obvious. Using a HD rather than a videotape was surely obvious and automating the process of recording shows is not only obvious but far from original. All TiVO did is put both of these things together in a convient package and I find it hard to formulate any principled rule that would call TiVO's developments non-obvious but NPT's blackberry patent obvious.

The difference seems only to be that geeks like TiVO and TiVO hasn't being suing individuals who decide to set up their computers to tape shows for them. But if they do get their patent enforced that is exactly what they *could* do in the future.

In the end I tend to think the TiVO patent should have been rejected as obvious. However, I think the only reason TiVO didn't make money is the monopoly cable companies and satellite companies have on their markets. When data service becomes the commidity everyone buys and there is free competition amount content providers on an open protocal companies like TiVO won't be shut out by monopolists who can make it difficult for TiVO to penetrate their markets.

Re:Mixed Feelings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15126791)

That's hardly all they did. And I, personally, think that the automatic correction for overshoot feature is one of the most non-obvious-until-done things I've seen in a while. I wish my Comcast DVR did it. (Yes, I have a Comcast DVR. I also have a 2nd-generation TiVo. The TiVo has better software, the Comcast box better hardware (well, two tuners vs. the TiVo's one). I record three things at the same time, you see.

Re:Mixed Feelings (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15126896)

Ugh. Everyone who keeps saying "all they did was take a VCR and replace the tape with a hard drive" should be taken out and shot. Or at least hit with a cluestick or something. You may not like the patent, but at least try to make a minimal effort to understand what it is.

A hard disk VCR is not what TiVo's time warping patent is about. Not getting into the technical details, but essentially the patent applies to recording and playing back, simultaneously, TV content to and from a hard drive. You can't do that with tape.

There are also other technical details in the patent, but that's the crucial point to understand. This patent is about a lot more than replacing a tape with a hard drive. Show me a tape that will allow you to watch a TV show on tape at the exact same time you are recording the TV show to that very same tape. Ain't no such animal.

Re:Mixed Feelings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15126915)

Using a HD rather than a videotape was surely obvious

You cannot play something back from a videotape, and record to the same videotape, at the same time.

People make it seem like this is easy and obvious. It took a lot of work for the TiVO engineers to make this work, dedicated hardware and software, this is real-time processing requirements.
And Echostar took a TiVO box, reverse engineered some of it, and sold it as their own.

And now they got bitch-slapped for it. Good for the courts, good for TiVO.

Re:Mixed Feelings (1)

theJML (911853) | about 8 years ago | (#15127007)

Using a HD rather than a videotape was surely obvious

People make it seem like this is easy and obvious.


I hate to say it... but it is both easy and obvious. But that doesn't mean you can't get a patent for it, nor does it mean that the patent should not be upheld. I think this is a great day for patent law and a great day for Tivo. They said "Hold on, that's our idea, we had it, announced it and followed through with it first and here's our proof!" and deserve that credit and some kick back from everyone that wants to put an offering out using that patent.

I mean, come on, if MS can get this patent, #6,727,830: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PT O1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm &r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6,727,830.WKU.&OS=PN/6,727,830&RS =PN/6,727,830 [uspto.gov] then that proves that being easy and obvious doesn't mean you can't get a patent.

Re:Mixed Feelings (1)

logicnazi (169418) | about 8 years ago | (#15127389)

Ohh, of course I'm not arguing that these other patents should be upheld but not TiVO's. If we are going to go down the route of upholding these obvious patents then we should do the same with TiVO as well.

However, I think it is inconsistant to cheer for TiVO winning their case but jeer at NTP or Amazon for their obvious patents. If we are going to bitch about people getting patents on obvious things we can't do it only when they are companies we don't like.

It was the 'time warp' aspect (1)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | about 8 years ago | (#15127041)

I commented here already, but wanted to reiterate this. It was the 'time warp' feature which this patent trial was about - the ability to perform simultaneous functions, such as recording live TV *and* watching something that was prerecorded (while also being able to pause/rewind/ff/skip-ahead in that program).

What came out at the trial was that echostar's original products did *not* have that functionality. They only incorporated that after getting their hands on a tivo system (which Tivo rather naively or stupidly left with them after a meeting).

Patents are to reward 'non-obvious' or 'novel' inventions. If Tivo functionality was 'non-obvious', why did the companies which had DVRs out well before Tivo (and has far more resources to throw at these projects) *not* include such 'obvious' functionality? Why did they not patent it first, considering they were apparently working in the digitial media field before Tivo? Because, as hard as it is to believe, some of this really *was* non-obvious at the time. Yes, today it all seems obvious, and there are a dozen posts here talking about how their Dish DVRs (or anyone else's) have dual tuners, can record/playback simultaneously, have 'record all programs'-type functions, and so on. Most of these functions are copying the original pioneering work of Tivo, and they don't deserve to have all that R&D ripped off by others too cheap/greedy/stingy to pay the licensing costs.

Had echostar been able to prove they'd had similar stuff under development simultaneously, I might hold a different view of this trial's outcome, but nothing I read (admittedly, there wasn't much reporting direct from the courtroom) indicated echostar had any innovative work going on which would have matched the tivo work/patents. I wrote a little more on this here [fosterburgess.com].

Commercials (1)

logicnazi (169418) | about 8 years ago | (#15127363)

I think one of the reasons they didn't include such functionality is pressure from broadcasters/advertisers. The ability to record and watch simultaneously almost inevitably entails the ability to skip commercials.

The fact that it wasn't yet on the market hardly shows that it wasn't obvious. It may not have been obvious that this feature would make a profit/be popular but the patent office doesn't grant patents on realizing that something would make money. The patent office grants patents based on the technology/idea being non-obvious (though buisness method patents do make this a bit fuzzy but this isn't relevant here).

The technology to watch and record at the same time is really obvious. Even the idea that this would be nice is pretty obvious. What do you want to bet that if we went back to usenet archives before TiVO we could find someone wishing he could time delay with his VCR or suggesting that this be done with a HD? TiVO just realized that this would be a sucesful product.

Re:It was the 'time warp' aspect (1)

logicnazi (169418) | about 8 years ago | (#15127434)

Or let me put the argument differntly.

Clearly you agree that there was nothing non-obvious about the technical aspects of what TiVO did to someone skilled in the art of computer video. I mean this same technology has been seperatly developed tons of times so it would be pretty tough to argue this.

Thus at a minimum for you to be right it must not have occured to hundreds of EchoStar customers, 'hey wouldn't it be nice if I could record one program while watching another.' EchoStar could have not pursued it for any hundreds of reasons but I have a really hard time believing tons of people didn't think it would be nice to watch at the same time as they recorded.

Re:Mixed Feelings (1)

ivan256 (17499) | about 8 years ago | (#15127052)

At the time TiVO came out, doing what they did with the hardware available was hardly a small feat. Sure, now it seems easy, because we have much faster hard drives and computers. Back then it was amazing, and decidedly non-obvious that you could get commodity hardware to do that (playback and record at full speed at the same time, that is).

Re:Mixed Feelings (1)

logicnazi (169418) | about 8 years ago | (#15127381)

Fine then give them a patent on making commodity hardware circa year such and such do this. If the non-obvious part of their design was just coding well enough to make it work with current hardware then they can have that patent but it would be totally worthless.

This is like arguing that the first person to do multi-tasking on a PC deserves a patent for realizing that multi-tasking wasn't only something that supercomputers can do. Admitedly at that time it probably wasn't obvious that a PC had enough power to do this but that is hardly justification for saying that multi-tasking on a PC isn't obvious for the purposes of patenting.

Re:Mixed Feelings (1)

MindStalker (22827) | about 8 years ago | (#15127312)

I find it hard to formulate any principled rule that would call TiVO's developments non-obvious but NPT's blackberry patent obvious.

One major difference in my mind.. TiVo created the idea of a harddrive as a replacement for the VCR, and NPT created the idea for email from a handheld device. Both semi novel ideas, but ideas others have thought of before. TiVo created a great product that implemented this idea in a truly novel way that created MANY copyers. NPT created an idea and sat on it.

Re:Mixed Feelings (1)

stmfreak (230369) | about 8 years ago | (#15127314)

In the end I tend to think the TiVO patent should have been rejected as obvious.

But it wasn't obvious when Tivo started. Otherwise, we would have already had it. Computers have been around for decades now. So have hard drives, video encoders/decoders, etc. All the parts were there, but the innovative idea to put them together in a new way and CHANGE the way we watched television... that was worth a patent.

And I mean "we" the masses, not "we" the bright hobbyists who were already dabbling with video capture at home, but not sharing the technology. Patents reward ideas that can be brought to market, not merely ideas.

Sure, now that it's been done it's easy to replicate independantly since all the parts and integration work are fairly obvious. But if someone (Tivo) hadn't gone out on a limb to build the first units and take on a lot of RISK to ship and sell those, we might never have found out what it was like to pause live TV.

So we have to reward them with a patent and allow them to reap the windfall for a few years or we stifle innovation and creativity in the future.

Way to go Tivo!

Re:Mixed Feelings (1)

logicnazi (169418) | about 8 years ago | (#15127403)

Uhh, no the patent office doesn't give out patents for realizing that X is profitable. It gives patents for developing technology X.

Under your argument Apple should get a patent for a windowing OS despite X/Xerox parc doing it first as they were the first ones to realize it might be profitable on PCs. Hell redhat should be able to get a software patent on Linux because they realized it was profitable to sell.

The patent system simply isn't supposed to work that way. It is only supposed to give patents that aren't obvious to those skilled in the art. Meaning those video geeks working at home are the people who count not the public at large.

If TiVO wants to get a buisness method patent on selling this technology that is another matter but realizing it is profitable simply doesn't cut it for a patent on the technology.

Dish had a DVR 1st (5, Informative)

Brad1138 (590148) | about 8 years ago | (#15126725)

I am surprised that TiVo won this case. Dish network had the 7100/7200 which could pause and record live TV before TiVo's patent. It may have been a piece of shit but it was still first. Obviously Echostars product would improve over time and the similarities of the current models are logical advance in the technologies.

Re:Dish had a DVR 1st (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15126740)

"Obviously Echostars product would improve over time"

I found the hole in your argument.

Re:Dish had a DVR 1st (1)

Brad1138 (590148) | about 8 years ago | (#15126852)

Ha Ha.... :)

I am a professional Sat. Dish Installer. inc. Dish, Direct, Starband, Wild Blue C-band... I have been installing for almost 10 years and seen the progression of the TiVo/DVR from the beginning.

Starting with the 7100/7200 (admittedly P.O.S.) then the 501, 508, 510 all 3 the same machine w/1 tuner just bigger HD's 35hr, 60hr, 100hr respectively. Then came the 721 and the 921(HD) which had 2 tuners but both were glitchy. Finally the 522 (SD) follow by the 625 (SD), 942 (HD) and the current top of the line 622 (HD&MPEG4). The final group are all virtually the same in operation with 2 tuners designed to run 2 TV's (with different programming on each) and are the first and only Echostar receivers to have name based recording, where it will search for a show by name instead of just using preset times.

DIdn't have 'time warp' (4, Informative)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | about 8 years ago | (#15126843)

As a Tivo stockholder, I've been following the trial as closely as I could. The patent focused on what they called the 'time warp' aspect. What came out in testimony was that the original echostar dish stuff could *not* let you watch a prerecorded program *and* simultaneously be recording a new program. It seems this functionality only made its way in to dish products *after* they had access to a Tivo which the Tivo dev team left them during a licensing/partnership meeting. Bad move on Tivo's part to leave equipment in a potential competitor's hands, obviously. What seemed to come out is that it was true the original echostar dish products *didn't* infringe on the Tivo patents, but that's not what they've been selling for a long time - they've been selling products that infringe on the patent.

So, given that such a large company had a 'similar' product on the market *before* Tivo, and it didn't have anywhere close to the functionality which Tivo patented, it would seem to be that the 'non-obvious' or 'novel' aspects of the patent got a significant boost. If it was such an 'obvious' way of performing this trick, the people with an earlier technology would have indeed developed the 'obvious' technique and used it in their product.

Re:DIdn't have 'time warp' (1)

Brad1138 (590148) | about 8 years ago | (#15126880)

I understand what your saying, but I wonder if the only reason the first generation didn't allow you to watch one thing and record another at the time was due to limitations in computing power at that time. Receivers of the 90's were very slow and limited in functionality regardless of DVR abilities.

Re:Didn't have 'time warp' (2, Informative)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | about 8 years ago | (#15126920)

In many ways it doesn't matter. There are people that patent things with only prototypes. Especially in the 90's, everything in the world relating to software was being patented, even if it was trivially obvious. Something else that came out in trial, from what I gathered (trying to read a bit in to what quotes I managed to read) was that Echostar developers didn't even *try* to put that feature in. If they had tried, and had any documentary evidence (meeting notes, prototypes, etc) that would have been produced as evidence that they'd been working on 'obvious' functionality like that before Tivo. None of that came out, because it was not, in fact, that obvious how to do this.

Tivo has numerous other patents from what I understand, but this was the one at the heart of this trial, and hopefully will be upheld. The only way I can see it being overturned would be if echostar introduces new evidence (which I'm not sure they can do at this stage of the process).

Re:DIdn't have 'time warp' (1)

Warlock7 (531656) | about 8 years ago | (#15126931)

The 7200 introduced the pause feature, that was in 2000 and it was more a feature of WebTV than the DVR that allowed FF/RW/Timeshift. Those features were added to the 7200 later. These things are why it wasn't really a DVR until after 2000 when ReplayTV and TiVo had been on the market for almost a year.

Re:DIdn't have 'time warp' (4, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | about 8 years ago | (#15127091)

That's what was novel about TiVO's device. They had the same hardware limitations as everybody else, but they figured out how to get the data on and off anyway. TiVO didn't make their device work because they put a faster drive in their box than Echostar. They made it work because they were smart about where to put the data. That's not trivial.

Re:DIdn't have 'time warp' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15127210)

Great. Then they should have a patent ON THEIR CLEVER DATA ARRANGEMENT. Not on the whole concept of simultaneous recording and playback.

Re:DIdn't have 'time warp' (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 8 years ago | (#15127380)

They made it work because they were smart about where to put the data. That's not trivial.

That's not patentable either.

I don't think this is a bad ruling and here is why (4, Insightful)

Bodhammer (559311) | about 8 years ago | (#15126797)

Disclaimer - I used to work for Philips. I'm still using a Series 1 Tivo that has been seriously upgraded. I own some Tivo stock.

Tivo has been compared to the VCR and with that logic, does not deserve patent protection. I disagree and believe that Tivo did innovate and does deserve patent protection.

What Tivo did first:

1) Downloadable program guide - Before Tivo, the only automated way to record was VCR+. It was lame and with TV Guide print deadlines 3-4 week before publish date it was shaky.

2) Digital recording - Though I agree that substituting a hard disk for a tape (media) may not deserve a patent, Tivo was the first successful use of mass market MPEG-2 recording. My tivo was 20 hours at first, this was an exponential leap. Tivo took open-source code (Linux), developed proprietary code and hardware, a dial-up infrastructure and made it work. They also, to the best of my knowledge, have honored the GPL and released their GPL tainted code back.

3) User interface - don't even try to tell me this is derivative of any VCR interface that exists today. Tivo's GUI is 6 years old and it still works well.

4) 30-sec skip, wish lists, filters, etc. might be considered standard now but when Tivo implemented them, they were revolutionary to the TV market and pre-digital TV.

I ABOLUTELY do not believe in patent protection where prior art exists or where it's basic physics or biology, etc. that someone is trying to patent. That said, I believe that Tivo innovated, took risk, and is trying to defend its investment and true intellectual property. This is what the patent system and at a more basic level, property rights are all about.

The real issue and problem is not Echostar, it is Hollywood and the MPAA. Tivo is the ultimate fair-use device. They deserve protection for their ideas and the right to survive in a FAIR market on their own ideas.

 

Re:I don't think this is a bad ruling and here is (1)

Bodhammer (559311) | about 8 years ago | (#15126812)

Oh yea, 5) they acutally filed and payed for the patents. Now they are paying to defend them.

Patents are on offense (0)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 8 years ago | (#15127450)

Oh yea, 5) they acutally filed and payed for the patents. Now they are paying to defend them.

Patents are offensive tools and TiVo is using them offensively. You can use an offense defensively, such as when IBM says to SCO "hmmm, interesting, now about these two hundred patents *we* have that *you're* violating" but it's still a threat of offense.

I guess you could get a patent defensively if you invent a technology and never intend to sue anybody about it but find it cheaper to register than to defend and prove prior art. Maybe that happens but just isn't publicized.

TiVo may feel that EchoStar was on offense in the market or on ethics but in the courts it's TiVo on offsense.

Re:I don't think this is a bad ruling and here is (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 8 years ago | (#15127366)

1) Downloadable program guide

I think tvguide.com has the prior art there...

Tivo was the first successful use of mass market MPEG-2 recording.

Since when did "successful" or "mass market" have anything to do with patents?

They also, to the best of my knowledge, have honored the GPL and released their GPL tainted code back.

Good for them, but that's completely besides the point.

3) User interface - don't even try to tell me this is derivative of any VCR interface that exists today.

No, it's not like a VCR, it's much more like old computer menu systems. Besides, you don't patent an interface, it's just protected under standard copyright, just like Windows, Mac OS X, etc.

Tivo's GUI is 6 years old and it still works well.

Again, that has nothing to do with this at all. This is sounding more and more like your own little personal Tivo commercial, having nothing to do with patents or prior art.

4) 30-sec skip,

Something every single computer video player had, from Quicktime to WMP.

wish lists, filters, etc.

Have you ever heard of a database. This is all absolutely trivial to do on any sort of information you have available.

might be considered standard now but when Tivo implemented them, they were revolutionary to the TV market and pre-digital TV.

Good for Tivo. They moved digital into the living room, and all the people who had never used a computer before were amazed...

There's still nothing at all remotely patentable in this list.

Checking it twice (3, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 8 years ago | (#15127427)

It's good to make lists like this but there are a couple to shorten it by.

2) Digital recording - Though I agree that substituting a hard disk for a tape (media) may not deserve a patent, Tivo was the first successful use of mass market MPEG-2 recording.

As others have mentioned the original Dish Players had rudimentary recording before TiVo. They've been MPEG-2/DVB since inception.

4) 30-sec skip, wish lists, filters, etc. might be considered standard now but when Tivo implemented them, they were revolutionary to the TV market and pre-digital TV.

There were some VCR's on the market with a 30-second skip button.

Just Another Stupid Patent (0, Troll)

KidSock (150684) | about 8 years ago | (#15126848)

I know a lot of ./'ers like their Tivos and all but this is just another stupid patent that should be rejected. If Tivo dies because of competition then sorry but that's irrelivant. Patents aren't a crutch for weak business models. They're supposed to give an inventor time to develop and deliver their product (and that's if it's NOT Just Another Stupid Patent). Providing a service to schedule recording TV shows to a hard drive is mildly innovative but it is not a "eureka" moment, it's just bundling. You could record a show to magnetic tape at a certain time with a run-of-the-mill VCR.

Re:Just Another Stupid Patent (1)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | about 8 years ago | (#15127089)

if Tivo dies because of competition then sorry but that's irrelivant.(sic)

What if Tivo dies or is harmed because of competition who are breaking the law? Where do you draw the line? What Tivo did *was* innovative and 'non-obvious' to people when they developed it. If you followed the trial and read some of the testimony, you'd know that Echostar had far greater resources to throw at the DVR space, and were working on products before Tivo, yet weren't able to deliver the functionality that Tivo did. If Echostar violating the law is the only way *they* can compete, they will get struck down eventually, and this is the first blow.

I say all this as a Tivo shareholder, but before that was someone who used Tivo, Dish, DirecTV's R15 unit, and have used or tested other DVR-ish 'solutions' from cable companies and Tivo competitors. No one is close to Tivo in terms of breadth of functionality and usefulness, but that's not even what the trial was about. Tivo *is* competing in the market with greatly innovative features and functions - they did feel that competitors were unlawfully appropriating their technology, giving them an unfair advantage, and that needed to be addressed in the courts.

Re:Just Another Stupid Patent (1)

ivan256 (17499) | about 8 years ago | (#15127103)

Providing a service to schedule recording TV shows to a hard drive is mildly innovative but it is not a "eureka" moment, it's just bundling. You could record a show to magnetic tape at a certain time with a run-of-the-mill VCR.

It's clear from that comment that you have no idea what a TiVO does. Try one some time and then you can come back and tell us all how wrong you were.

Tivo doesn't record a show at a certain time. It manages and acquires content for you. It's nothing like a VCR in any way. Seriously, try it. If what you said is what you think a Tivo does, your mind will be blown by what a Tivo *actually* does.

Re:Just Another Stupid Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15127447)

I've seen what a TiVo does. I was less than impressed. When I first saw a TiVo years ago, the only thing that impressed me was that hard drive technology could handle the bandwidth of reading and writing two separate video streams since random seeks are required in between the two. But then I don't know exactly what bandwidth video requires so it may have been no big deal.

It manages and acquires content for you.

This sounds suspiciously like market-speak. Let me rephrase in everyday terminology: it records television programs.

It's nothing like a VCR in any way.

What are you, retarded? It's a VCR with extra features made possible by its large capacity random access data storage medium and a network connection to a database of television shows. Or do the new TiVos also clean your house and make coffee?

This is why Slashdot is now a heaping pile of shit (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15127409)

As of my posting, the parent comment is rated as a troll. As far as I can tell, this is because the moderators like TiVo. If this were any other company, half the posts here would be saying the same thing as the parent.

TiVo deserves credit for being first to market with a working product, but I see nothing about about their product that is original enough to be deserving of patent protection. It's possible that there are aspects of their hardware design that are patentable, but with advancing technology it should be nothing that can't be worked around for slightly greater cost.

TiVo did not invent digital recording nor digital playback. They were merely the first to successfully commercialize it.

Recording and playing at the same time? Please! I could do that using two VCR's twenty years ago. Bundling the functionality in a single package due to advancing technology is so obvious it hurts.

Specifying shows you want to have recorded using parameters other than times of day is certainly obvious. I've done it before. (Hey Bob! Can you record the Simpsons for me? Thanks. ) The only challenge there is creating the database of descriptions of television shows. Having software guess at what you might want to watch has only not been done before because of the limitations (time-wise) of the recording medium.

The idea that any of these things should be patentable is absurd. Hardware designs to achieve these ends may be patentable but the functionality itself ought not be. Did the Wright brothers patent flying? No, they patented the design of parts of their flying machine.

TiVo's exact patent (2, Informative)

ssuchter (451997) | about 8 years ago | (#15126850)

TiVo's patent in question is on being able to record one show while using the same device to watch another. Dish's prior recorder that allowed pausing of live TV isn't really prior art of that.

Re:TiVo's exact patent (2, Insightful)

positronica (961435) | about 8 years ago | (#15127060)

If all Tivo's patent is is the idea of recording one show while watching another, than it should be thrown out. There's nothing revolutionary or non-obvious about it. People were recording one show while watching another with their TV/VCR setups long before Tivo ever came around. If Tivo hadn't put this feature in their DVR, there still would have been thousands of consumers who would have thought, "hey, being able to record one show while watching another would be a great feature to have on these things." That right there should be proof that it was an obvious idea. Now, if Tivo's patent isn't just the general idea, but istead a specific way to impliment that idea, then they might have a point.

Re:TiVo's exact patent (1)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | about 8 years ago | (#15127100)

No one was watching a program from the same media they were recording to with a VCR. You might have been watching one program 'live' and recording to a VCR from another input, or something like that, perhaps.

Tivo's patent is for a specific method of doing this sort of juggling with one media device (a hard drive) which was non-obvious at the time (what? 8-9 years ago?) Patent's are not supposed to be just for an 'idea' but a specific implementation of an idea, which Tivo's is.

Prior art from long, long ago (4, Interesting)

sunderland56 (621843) | about 8 years ago | (#15127012)

The Abekas A62 disk recorder could record one video stream, while playing back another. It was introduced in the mid 1980's, so any patents involved have likely run out by now. Abekas even won an Emmy award for it in 1986.
It was meant for professional studio use, cost about $150K, and only held 100 seconds of video - but hey, that was 20 years ago. I'm not sure how Tivo can claim to have invented the technology.

Echostar has released a statement (3, Informative)

Brad1138 (590148) | about 8 years ago | (#15127022)

EchoStar Statement Regarding VERDICT IN TiVo Inc. v. EchoStar Communications Corp. LAWSUIT

April 13, 2006 - This is the first step in a very long process and we are confident we will ultimately prevail. Among other things, we believe the patent - as interpreted in this case - is overly broad given the technology in existence when TiVo filed its patent. We believe the decision will be reversed either through post-trial motions or on appeal. Additionally, the Patent Office is in the process of re-examining TiVo's patent, having determined there is a substantial question concerning the validity of the patent.

DISH Network subscribers can continue to use the receivers in their homes, including their DVRs. Furthermore, TiVo dropped their claim that EchoStar's Dishplayer 7200 DVR infringes their patent.

Nice (0, Offtopic)

Andrevan (621897) | about 8 years ago | (#15127184)

This is good, because I own a bit of stock in TIVO, and I now stand to make a good bit of money.

RTFP (1)

StevisF (218566) | about 8 years ago | (#15127394)

Read the Fucking Patent [uspto.gov].

TiVo's patent is for a particular method of recording one program, while watching another using low cost components. Clearly someone can come up with some other method of achieving this using low cost components or use just use more expensive components and not infringe on their patent.
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