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Cable/Video

Comcast, TiVo bury the hatchet

Comcast and TiVo are friends again. Or at least they are no longer enemies.

Following years of patent-related litigation, Comcast and TiVo (now part of the Xperi empire) announced Monday they have struck a 15-year patent license agreement.

At one point in the legal battle, Comcast was forced to temporarily remove a remote DVR recording function from its Stream app. Comcast later restored that function as patents forming the basis of an ITC ruling that favored TiVo expired and after the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB) invalidated them.
At one point in the legal battle, Comcast was forced to temporarily remove a remote DVR recording function from its Stream app. Comcast later restored that function as patents forming the basis of an ITC ruling that favored TiVo expired and after the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB) invalidated them.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the new agreement is effective as of the expiration of Comcast's prior agreement with TiVo in 2016. It also provides "broad coverage" under TiVo's patent portfolios into 2031 while resolving all of the outstanding litigation between the companies, they announced.

Xperi, which acquired TiVo in June 2020, said the terms are "consistent with TiVo's well established licensing program for the Pay-TV market."

The deal puts an end to a fight between the companies that stemmed from the expiration of Comcast's last deal with TiVo some four years ago. Comcast had argued that its X1 technology was built in-house and was, therefore, not subject to TiVo's aging patents and intellectual property holdings. TiVo held that its intellectual property remained as relevant as ever while also pointing out that all other top US pay-TV providers had renewed their deals without a big fuss.

Reading between the lines, it appears that Comcast relented, though it's not clear what kind of screaming deal it got or what rate it will be paying TiVo/Xperi in comparison to what video service providers of similar size are paying to the vendor.

But adding Comcast back into the licensing fold was cheered by Xperi shareholders, which sent the stock up 26%, to $17.65 per share, in after-hours trading Monday.

Both Comcast and TiVo/Xperi seemed relieved to finally put this legal battle, which included skirmishes at the International Trade Commission and in multiple civil courts, to rest. Speaking on an earnings call last August, former TiVo CEO Dave Shull stressed that TiVo would keep the legal heat on until Comcast came to an agreement, asserting that TiVo had "hundreds" of valid patents it could use against Comcast.

"We are very pleased to conclude this agreement with Comcast, one of the world's leading media and technology companies that is widely recognized for its innovative products and solutions," Samir Armaly, president, IP licensing of Xperi, said in a statement.

"This deal provides us with a reasonable licensing solution for the company's comprehensive patent portfolio while putting the litigation behind us," added Peter Kiriacoulacos, EVP and chief procurement officer of Comcast. "We're looking forward to a mutually successful relationship in the years to come as we continue to bring our customers the best entertainment experiences."

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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