Sling Prevails; Monsoon Placeshifters Barred From US Shores

Dave Zatz —  December 6, 2013 — 7 Comments

Having settled with Belkin back in June, Sling Media’s placeshifting intellectual property was further bolstered today when the International Trade Commission¬†closed out the case against Monsoon Multimedia via a US import and sales ban of products that infringe upon 6 Sling patents.

The Commission has determined that the appropriate form of relief in this investigation is a limited exclusion order prohibiting the unlicensed entry of electronic devices having placeshifting or display replication functionality and products containing the same that are manufactured abroad by or on behalf of, or imported by or on behalf of, the Defaulting Respondents by reason of infringement of one or more of claims [...] The Commission has also determined to issue cease and desist orders directed against Monsoon and C2 Microsystems, which prohibit, inter alia, the importation, sale, advertising, marketing, and distribution of covered products in the United States by the Defaulting Respondents.

Over the years, Monsoon has marketed various streamers including HAVA and Vulkano… that failed to generate the interest and publicity that Slingbox devices have, despite many positive attributes. Having apparently wrapped up their limited retail competition and given Sling’s new alignment with Arris, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Echostar subsidiary turn their attention to the likes of a TiVo or DirecTV that provide similar placeshifting services. As TiVo has proved on multiple occasions, producing the best of something is but a single revenue stream… whereas IP defense is an additional avenue for potential licensing. But they better act fast as software patents may not survive 2014.

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7 responses to Sling Prevails; Monsoon Placeshifters Barred From US Shores

  1. Sling responded to my inquiry on the matter. Will be interesting to see where they go with this.

    “Sling Media will continue to defend its intellectual property as the company moves forward with retail products and OEM/licensing partnerships.”

  2. Seems to me like Echostar would be better off bypassing the lawsuit and just acquiring TiVo outright. Given the IP TiVo has and how victorious they’ve been with it, it’s kind of shocking nobody has done it already.

  3. I can remember back when Tivo’s website sold Sling players. I really thought Tivo acquiring Sling would’ve just made sense. After EchoStar picked them up back in 2007, I doubted we’d see an Tivo put out a place-shifter. I wonder if TiVo looked at Sling, but was too deep in financing litigation at the time to shell out the cash. Unless there’s some sort of cross-licensing deal with EchoStar, TiVo may regret not making a play. Now that they have Monsoon ruling under their belt, they’ll have a bit more weight going after the big boys.

  4. Given Sling’s note to me, they clearly have some ideas in terms of patent defense. Should . Of course, there are all sorts of questions we don’t currently have answers to… does someone like TiVo actually infringe on Sling IP given their implementation, would Sling’s patents withstand scrutiny, do potential targets have similar patents of their own (covering similar or to negotiate cross licensing with), how much (time, money) is either party willing to put into a fight?

    By the by, Vulkanos are still on sale at Monsoon – what sort of time frame do they have to respond to the ITC and if they don’t cease and desist, I assume it’d require Sling take them to court (and I don’t anticipate they’d voluntarily enter into a licensing arrangement for the competing product line).

  5. Wow, I have a Vulkano and it has finally started to get useful around the house. It streams at a higher bitrate than it used to.

  6. I got a Vulkano many yeras ago and was very happy with. Although I’m glad I picked up a Slingbox 350 when they were released last year instead of another Vulkano.

  7. I was given this comment from Pabhat Jain today by email.

    Sling has not won their patent lawsuit! We can even sell our devices till
    the Presidential review is complete.

    So Monsoon are continuing thru Belkin to sell Vulkanos as belkin already settled with sling.

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