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ITC to Investigate Rovi/TiVo Complaint Against Comcast

Latest complaint at the International Trade Commission seeks to block imports of X1 set-tops, broadband gateway devices and associated software.

Jeff Baumgartner

May 23, 2019

3 Min Read
ITC to Investigate Rovi/TiVo Complaint Against Comcast

The International Trade Commission announced Thursday that it will investigate a complaint filed by Rovi/TiVo last month against Comcast that seeks to block the import of several X1 set-top boxes and broadband gateways and associated software.

The complaint, filed by Rovi/TiVo on April 26, asserts the following six US patents:

  • No. 8,001,654: "Electronic Program Guide with Digital Storage Directory," issued Aug. 11, 2011, expiring April 5, 2024;

  • No. 7,779,445: "Interactive Television Systems with Digital Video Recording and Adjustable Reminders," issued Aug. 17, 2010, expiring Jan. 30, 2023.

  • No. 7,389,871: "Program Guide System with Real-Time Data Sources," issued June 10, 2008, expiring Jan. 21, 2023;

  • No. 8,156,528: "Personal Video Recorder Systems and Methods," issued April 10, 2012, expiring July 23, 2028;

  • No. 7,301,900: "Method and Apparatus for Hub-Based Network Access via a Multimedia System," issued Nov. 27, 2007, expiring Nov. 9, 2024; and

  • No. 7,200,855: "Method and Apparatus of Multiplexing a Plurality of Channels in a Multimedia System," issued April 3, 2007, expiring July 11, 2024.

Accused products in this ITC complaint include various X1 DVR and non-DVR set-top box and client models, including the XG1, XG2, XiD, Xi5 and Xi6, as well as the XB6, a DOCSIS 3.1-powered advanced broadband gateway. Arris/CommScope and Technicolor are among the vendors that supply those devices to Comcast, sourcing them from partners in countries that include China, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia, according to the complaint.

Figure 1: The Xi5, a device referenced in TiVo's complaint with the ITC, is an Arris-made wireless video client for Comcast's X1 platform. The Xi5, a device referenced in TiVo's complaint with the ITC, is an Arris-made wireless video client for Comcast's X1 platform.

Rovi/TiVo is seeking a general exclusion order or, short of that, a limited exclusion order, and cease and desist orders.

The company is also pursuing similar lawsuits against Comcast in the courts.

Rovi/TiVo, which is the process of splitting out its licensing and intellectual property and product businesses, has been applying legal heat on Comcast since its license with the company expired on March 31, 2016.

Comcast, which has refused to give in to these legal pressures, has been adamant that the Rovi/TiVo patents are outdated, that the complaints are "meritless" and that Comcast developed the technologies used for X1 in-house.

Why this matters
A bad result for Comcast in this complaint could prevent Comcast and its suppliers from importing new X1 boxes and broadband gateways and toss a wrench into its X1 software and apps development efforts. A bad one for Rovi/TiVo would deal a blow to its efforts to lock in a new deal with Comcast and could likewise impair its plans to separate its businesses and could reduce the value of the licensing/IP side of the house.

Comcast has had some success getting TiVo patents tossed out from earlier proceedings at the ITC, but a past ruling favoring TiVo at the Commission did force Comcast to disable a remote recording feature for X1.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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