Another Round to Charlie Ergen & Co?
Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) and its tech and set-top spinoff, EchoStar Corp. LLC (Nasdaq: SATS), claimed in a joint statement released this afternoon that the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) has "dismissed" a TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) petition to vacate EchoStar's re-examination of the DVR pioneer's "Timewarping" patent, central to the protracted legal battle between the companies. (See Dish: PTO Dismisses TiVo Petition.)
Earlier this month, the PTO issued an "office action" that invalidated two claims linked to the all-important patent. At the time, Dish and EchoStar said the PTO's conclusions were "highly relevant" to the case, confirming the "reasonableness of EchoStar's positions on its designaround" of the TiVo patent. (See TiVo-Dish DVR Slugfest Rages On .)
TiVo, which is looking to extract up to $1 billion in sanctions, stressed then that it was just a "preliminary finding" that emerged before TiVo had a chance to present its side of the legal story. (See TiVo Wants Ergen to Dish Out $1B , EchoStar, Dish to Pay TiVo $103M, and Court Grants Dish a Stay.)
"The PTO's decision clears the way for the re-examination to continue, which we believe will result in a Final Office Action invalidating the software claims of TiVo's patent," Dish/EchoStar asserted.
TiVo's sure to have a response post-haste. Dish and EchoStar released the statement about an hour before TiVo was scheduled to discuss its fiscal second quarter numbers… not that Charlie Ergen & Co. meant to do that or anything.
UPDATE: On today's call, TiVo CEO Tom Rogers claimed that Dish/EchoStar may have jumped the gun, claiming that TiVo has "not yet presented any information at all to the examiner in connection with the review." Likewise, he's confident that the PTO proceedings won't have any impact on EchoStar's appeal.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News