TiVo Wins Permanent Injunction Against EchoStar (And Cash)

Dave Zatz —  August 17, 2006 — 32 Comments

The ruling is in: Within 30 days, all infringing Dish DVR functionality must be disabled and TiVo‘s initial award comes to about ninety million big ones. The market should be interesting tomorrow AM and EchoStar is sure to appeal. If you’re just tuning in, you can catch up here — otherwise check out the official court ruling below.

UPDATE 1: TiVo and EchoStar respond with dueling press releases.

UPDATE 2: EchoStar is granted a stay, cause for more press releases

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32 responses to TiVo Wins Permanent Injunction Against EchoStar (And Cash)

  1. Ordinarily I’d say that right about now TiVo’s and Echostars lawyers are working out a deal that would eventually have Dish start selling actual TiVos (which would be great for me since I’m a Dish customer)

    But Charlie Eggen(sp) is kinda crazy so I’m not betting on anything.

  2. Well this sucks. What about those of us who USE the DVR functionality from Dish? Time to start hacking my reciever to disable updates…

  3. Maybe it will be appealed but there will likely be a settlement. Echostar won’t let their customers go dark.

  4. The US Patent system sucks big time. Glad I live in the UK, however we’ve still got a fight on our hands to keep this STUPID system from making it’s way over the pond and sticking.

    You have my sympathies!

  5. JAMES: The US Patent System protects the investment that you would make in a successful, profitable product, protect your rightful gains for adressing a market need or want, protecting your employees’ jobs, in short it works for those that understand following market fair-play is in everyones’ best interest. Now if you are a cheap, pirating drop out then of course you hate anyone but you getting anything and don’t feel you should ever pay for others’ intelligence, so your comment says a lot about you. Stay on your side of the pond, we’ll all be happier.

  6. BERN: The Patent System is supposed to promote innovation, not be used as a club to bash any possible competition over the head with so you can sit back on your government-granted monopoly and quit innovating. If the patent system didn’t exist, are you telling me Tivo would have never made the investment to make the Tivo in the first place? Hardly…

  7. Bern: That’s a very ignorant attitude. If you’d been awake during the last 15 or so years, you would have noticed at least some of the flaws and anit-consumer effects of the US Patent system in the area of software patents. Probably the most famous, but by no means the only, idiotic patent was the Amazon one-click checkout.

    Do some reading on the subject before you open your mouth.

  8. So, did Echostar really infringe (by taking some inovation from TiVo), or are they just a DVR company that TiVo wants to take over? If they did infringe, what was it? User interface that works just like TiVos, the OS, hardware design, or what?

  9. BERN,

    Interesting that you would say that the U.S. Patent system sucks, as the U.S. system is derviced (as is much of U.S. law) from British Law.

    Regarding your argument about patents not protecting investment…your argument makes no economic sense. Why would a company spend millions of dollars developing a technolgy if they knew that the minute they put it on the market, someone else would copy it, thereby reaping all the gains of the technology witbut any of the costs of developing it. The patent system allows companies to recoup their investment into the development of new technology. If it did not exist, high dollar research project, e.g., pharmaceuticals, computers, etc. would not have been developed by private compnies, as they would be highly unprofitable.

  10. http://tinyurl.com/mdk7l

    So how do you avoid the monopolizing effect that TiVo is demonstrating? How is something like the VCR acceptable to be created by multiple vendors, but a DVR is not? Are home-brew PVRs at risk as well, since this gives the appearance of such.

    I’ve been sick of TiVo for a LONG time, and this just makes matters worse. I don’t have a Dish DVR, but my parents do. I have a home-brew setup. But try explaining to my parents why they’ll no longer be able to record the shows they want.

    In fact, this, the Broadcast Flag, and et al are discouraging me from even WATCHING TV if they’re not careful. If you want to disallow channel changes while I watch TV, I’m going to get *sick of watching TV*. If I can’t record shows (at the times I’m busy/working/etc.) to allow myself to watch them *when I’m free to*, then I’m *going to stop watching TV*. You are no longer shooting yourselves in the foot, TiVo and all other stiflers of technology, you are shooting yourselves in the heart.

  11. And this decision affects ReplayTV owners (the *original* DVR) how?

  12. I recently got a Tivo Series 2 after over 2 years of using the Dish DVR and I’m a little underwhelmed. While the dish software could really use an update, the integration with the receiver is very slick.

    Also, I can keep watching a show while I am messing around deleting old stuff, etc. The Tivo remote is missing about half the buttons that I have gotten used to on the Dish DVR. I had to look up a secret code on the internet to get a simple 30 second look ahead button.

    The network functionality of the Tivo is nice. I can program it across the internet and move movis across the LAN.

    I hope the Dish Tivo takes the best of these two significantly different products.

  13. If it takes me less than a day to build a personal DVR, and that would be without tutorials or an article, then what investment did Tivo make? They invested in their management chain and lawyers. Is that what you think that innovation is based on? That is what this patent represents. What does a DVR do? It takes a signal and writes it to a storage device. In particular, it writes to a magnetic device. Is this different than the ideas behind a VCR? No. So, where is the innovation? Was there concept novell? No. We have been storing content in our homes on personal video recorders using for some time now. Just because you take this idea that has lots of prior art and try to recast it with updated techniques, does not make it novell. Maybe the Patent office allows you to do this, but the only innovation I see was the creating the term DVR and pay lawyers to file a patent that would pass the muster of the patent office. It sounds as if some people think this is legitimate. Why don’t we support legitimate innovation instead of allowing some clever individuals work the patent office to enrich themselves by getting a club to beat people over the head? I wish ignoramous James would just leave across some pond, I don’t really care which as he is a leach on the rest of us. After the speal by James, would James please expain the novell aspects of this solution aside from using updated storage techniques which I don’t find to be novell as much as I find it a progression that was happening anyway.

    I am not sure what the point of the legal system in the US was derived from British law. It is easily quite possible that the derivation sucks.

    Snotman

  14. Wow – TiVO must have been taking business lessons from SCO! If they take away my 30-second skip button, I’m gonna be pissed!!

  15. I hope Dish does something to permit their current DVRs to stay operational.

    I’ve had both TiVo and the Dish DVR and the TiVo doesn’t really have any extra features of significance. Unless you really want the TiVo feature of automatically deleting recorded programs without your permission because of some bogus DRM system.

    -Wombat1369

  16. Bashing competition over the head is exactly what the patent system is for. In exchange for making your invention PUBLIC (instead of a trade secret), the government gives you a limited monopooly for 17 years, precicesly so you can kick the competition’s ass. What we get in exchange in this “social contract” is that in 17 years, the invention is public (and not secret) and anyone can use it and improve on it. That’s the deal, and the whole reason patents exist.

  17. I’m a DISH DVR owner and this seems like a great excuse to quit service and not have to pay a cancelization fee! And then I’m not going to have to pay a DVR fee, a rental fee for the DVR, AND a my system isn’t hooked up to a phone line fee.

    I’m hoping I can be fee free soon! I’m buying an antenna and doing Myth. Whoo-hoo!

  18. The US patent system was primarily geared towards pharmacuticals, in alot of ways it doesn’t make any sense in other sectors of industry and service where it is being applied. It’s sad how most companies are using the patent system as a bludgeon against each other and the consumer to no one’s benefit but their own.

  19. With patents you have big research investment, monopol for 30 years. without patent you have very small research investment (small steps inovations) by a large number of companies and real capitalism balance. Patents, as they are today, are an obstacle to innovation. It is not by removing patent that you will remove brain power. it is not with patent that you protect your job, it is with your brain. If patent did not exist, the economy would build financial models that would allow shared investment (take the example of shares, with spread insurance via options). Another aspect is quality. without patent, not a single /couple company would produce, let’s say a paint brush roller. people would buy based on the quality of the product (performance, durability, recycleability, etc…) and the market would stabilize to the best quality in adequation to the need (i.e. a brush that would be re-usable maybe, or an mp3 music player in which you would be able to upload a new firmware to support new format) A very good example is power-adapter, if you had no patent, what would you have: probably one power adapter able to feed all your low voltage equipement with a standard plug in the back. Why? because this is what we would buy. With all of that you would be out of job? No. You would work on new technologies/ideas that will be invented in 20 years time… That my view… I would apreciate contructive discussions, critics…

  20. I assume this means that existing subscribers won’t be affected:

    “Defendants are hereby FURTHER ORDERED to, within thirty (30) days of the issuance of this order, disable the DVR functionality (i.e. disable all storage to and playback from a hard disk drive of television data) in all but 192,706 units of the Infringing Products that have been placed with an end user or subscriber. The DVR functionality, i.e. disable all storage to and playback from a hard disk drive of television data) shall not be enabled in any new placements of the Infringing Products.”

    Also notice the error in the second sentence. Does this affect the order?

  21. “The US patent system was primarily geared towards pharmacuticals,…”
    Shadus, the U.S. patent system was given life by the U.S. Constitution, long before pharma was much more than tree bark and stump water.

    Lately the patent office (www.uspto.gov)has been VERY promiscuous in granting patents. They even gave one to a guy for using laser pointers to play with cats. Boy, he’s racked up some real dollars if he can only sue enough people. We need to fund a large increase in personnel and MAKE them actually spend it for that purpose. Otherwise, they’ll continue to be swamped with applications and pass on everything just to keep their heads above water.

  22. The patent system was designed to foster innovation. To that extent it has worked.

    Where it falls down, is in the definition of “obvious”. Does 1-click shopping seem to obvious? How about xerographic copying, with electrostaic drums and toner? (The basis of our all copiers and laser printers). Drip-filter coffee? Magnetic rubber strip fridge door closures? How about an ankle-hoop and a ball on a rope (Skippety-doo)? That was a patent suit back in 1970.

    I think the definition of “obvious” has gotten worse over the years. The standard on what should be patented should be much tougher.

  23. The US patent system has gotten out of hand. Plain and simple.

    The patent system is old and out of date, change is needed, how about a Patent 2.0 system getting developed?

  24. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patents

    Read through it, it should put most of your misconceptions to rest.

  25. TiVo didn’t even patent the DVR functionality. What they patented was a few measely UI elements and sold an amazingly inept jury and judge that the two were the same thing. This is just the second round in a battle that will probably go dozens of rounds. Of course Dish will appeal. But that will cost more and more. And what this will give TiVo is higher priced pre-trial settlements from many other competitors that they are only just now getting geared up to file law suits against. Even if this gets overturned one day and they never get a dime from Dish, this will have paid for itself many times.

  26. This decision has no teeth, as it restrains and enjoins (EchoStar) from “making, using, selling, or offering to sell in the UNTIED STATES” DVRs. Anyone mind telling me whose little world the Untied States are in?

  27. This is out of control. A hard drive is a common multi purpose device as is ram, eeproms etc. You cant (or shouldnt be able to) patent the use of a basic product.
    Tivo is a poor company with a clearly poor product that lost market share and are showing signs of desperation. Imagine putting a patent on using ram for satellite business or cable etc. Whats stopping someone from doing that!? Maybe mp3 playback should not be allowed on an ipod as it has a mini hd?!? Come on.. tivo.. you suck and your product sucks, stop being a bunch of babies and make way for better products!!! BEEP, CLICK, F#*K off~! And Bern, you give all Americans a bad name, don’t do that please. No wonder when Americans travel they aren’t liked by anyone you ignorant fool ;0

  28. E. David Zotter August 19, 2006 at 2:59 pm

    Does anyone know how long the temporary “stay” will last?

    I’m under the impression from analysts that it likely won’t be longer than a few weeks.

  29. From my understanding Tivo won not because echostar copied technology, but because it was Tivo-like, meaning that it has many of the same features as Tivo. This doesn’t seem to make any sense. So the the first restaurant that offered drive-through service should have exclusivity of the idea, and if any other restaurant wanted drive-through service they would have to purchase a license agreement, or risk being sued. The idea of pausing live tv has been around before Tivo. In my opinion, only the technology should be protected. Someone please tell me how you can now make any DVR that improves the technology without first infringing on Tivo.

  30. This doesn’t have anything to do with hard disks or DVRs in the conventional sense. The particular technology that was patented has to do with the innovative and unique memory management and tagging techniques that TiVo devised to make it possibel to instantaneously skip commercials, watch the beginning of a recording while you’re still recording it, etc.

    DirecTV paid a licensing fee to TiVo to use their technology and Dish chose not to. That’s one of the reasons Dish is generally cheaper – because they blatantly ripped off TiVo’s IP.

  31. None of you TiVo bashers read ANYTHING. What was the main patent was NOT the UI, it was the processor that (cheaply) can compress/decompress video. When it was invented back in the 1990s, it was WAY too expensive to use a computer to make a DVR (computers were $1500). The processor simplified it and knocked it down to a couple $100, subsidized by the service. Without that step (although the UI IS patented…see Apple’s $100 million to Creative for putting menus/songs side by side), the masses couldn’t afford a DVR.

    Also, whoever talked about VCRs – you are an idiot. Sony had Beta and wouldn’t license it (like TiVo), so the competition came together and agreed on an open format (VCR) that they would all make instead, that was fundamentally different than Sony (and created out of fear). The thing is, at first they approached Sony and asked to license it (which it refused). TiVo is ready (dying, actually) to license but no one feels they have to.

    It must be nice to spout theories without knowing facts.

  32. Way to go Ratch!

    The cesspool of moronic comments was deafening. Tivo, as you correctly point out, is the victim here. Echostar stole their technology after Tivo tried to license it to them. Tivo’s patent is valid, and so was their suit. The only thing invalid around here are the bashers’ brains.

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