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TiVo Sees Dish Drama Dissolving

Jeff Baumgartner
5/29/2008

So, Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) wants to take its protracted digital video recorder (DVR) patent spat with TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) all the way to the Supreme Court? So what?

That was the attitude TiVo put on display Thursday afternoon as the DVR pioneer discussed its first-quarter financial results yesterday. (See TiVo Posts Q1.)

"The chances of the Supreme Court taking a case like this are well less than 1 percent, so I think it's pretty unlikely," said TiVo general counsel Matt Zinn. "Whether [Dish] infringes TiVo's patent or not is hardly of national significance."

So far, Dish has come out on the short end of the stick in the case, which centers on TiVo's "Time Warp" patent. In late January, an appeals court upheld its earlier ruling that Dish infringed on the patent. The ruling puts the satellite provider on the hook for about $74 million in damages and could force it to do a software licensing deal. (See TiVo Digs DVR Ruling .)

In April, a Washington court denied Dish's request for a rehearing, prompting Dish to announce its intentions to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. (See The Final Chapter?)

In the meantime, Dish claims to have developed a software workaround, although some older models did not receive the redesigned software. (See Dish's DVR Boat Anchors.)

But TiVo isn't buying Dish's workaround claims. "We believe that [Dish's] modified software does not avoid infringement," TiVo CEO Tom Rogers said. He added that the District Court has scheduled a status conference for May 30, and TiVo is hopeful that the case reaches a "final resolution."

Cable update
In recent quarters, TiVo has used its earnings calls to drop deployment news tied to its cable deals with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Cox Communications Inc. This time around, TiVo had only some small updates to share. (See Cox Tees Up TiVo Test Bed and Comcast to Kick Off Boston TiVo Party.)

The port with Comcast has been available in the MSO's New England region since early 2008, but Rogers said the companies are preparing to extend the offer beyond Massachusetts and New Hampshire "very soon." Cox, meanwhile, is on track for a commercial launch in its New England market later this year.

Of more recent significance is the progress that's been made with the Tuning Adapter, a device that will allow inherently one-way, stand-alone TiVo boxes with CableCARDs to tune to channels offered in an operator's switched programming tier. (See CableLabs Spec Brings SDV to the Masses.)

TiVo and the Tuning Adapter

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)'s version of the Tuning Adapter, the STA-1520, and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)'s entry, the MTR700, are undergoing verification and qualification testing at CableLabs .

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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