If you’re a tivo user as I am, or are considering getting one, you might want to know that TiVo’s lawsuit against EchoStar (DishNetwork) over a patent dispute began today. PVR Wire has a summary of what happened today, and so does the unofficial Tivo Blog. The best summary is at Thomas Hawk, and there is also an article on Washington Post.
TiVo is arguing that at issue here is that when they showed Echostar
(owner of the DISH satellite network) a prototype TiVo way back when,
rather than work out a deal with TiVo Echostar just kept the prototype
and copied it
Why should you care? I’m not sure. If TiVo means, its a huge cash windfall for the company. If TiVo’s patent is overly broad, it covers a method for "recoiding one show while watching another", that would give them an unfortunate tool to use to stifle their own competitors. At the moment though, the main threat to TiVo’s survival is cheaper, less functional DVR’s being promoted by cable and satellite companies.
Some industry observers have put TiVo’s chance of victory at 70% or
more and see EchoStar paying TiVo damages of $95 million-$300 million.
Possibly more important for TiVo, a ruling instantly would strengthen
its hand in negotiating what have been very elusive licensing deals
with cable TV companies that have been selling their own less-expensive
DVRs and cutting TiVo out of the loop.