TiVo and Patent Infringement


The makers of the famous TiVo DVR systems, TiVo Inc. are taking Samsung to court over the alleged patent infringement of four of their patents. Deja vu? Feels like we’ve heard this story before, haven’t we? Well, TiVo loves the litigation game and has taken several big companies, such as EchoStar/Dish, AT&T, Motorola, Verizon and Cisco, to court for infringing its patents, winning almost a whopping $1.6 billion in damages.


So why is TiVo suing Samsung this time? According to them it is not only Samsung set- top boxes that are found infringing but several smartphones and tablets have also been accused of infringement. In total Samsung products have been charged with the infringement of four of TiVo’s patents which are –


“Multimedia Time Warping System” (U.S. Patent No. 6,233,389), “Method And Apparatus Implementing Random Access And Time-Based Functions On A Continuous Stream Of Formatted Digital Data”( U.S. Patent No. 6,792,195), “Multimedia Signal Processing System” (U.S. Patent No. 7,558,472) and “Multimedia Signal Processing System”( U.S. Patent No. 8,457,476). The former two patents are older in comparison to the latter two, and have been a part of previous litigations. This is TiVo’s first litigation in the past three years.


TiVo’s legal team argues that Samsung mobile devices have rightly been included in the suit as they are “specifically designed and configured with hardware and software components that allow for the simultaneous storage and playback of movies, videos, television shows, and other multimedia content.” The mobile devices which have been mentioned as part of the complaint are the entire Samsung’s Galaxy Note series , Galaxy Mega phones, Galaxy S phones, and Galaxy Tab.


TiVo maybe the pioneering DVR manufacturer, but in recent times the company has seen dwindling sales, where customers are now preferring to rent set top boxes instead of purchasing them. This is due to the high-priced products offered by TiVo, which has led to the slump in its sales.


Taking this into consideration, it is safe to say that what it loses in sales, TiVo tries to make up in royalty payments. With the eventual demise or extinction of the DVR technology, TiVo is aggressively trying to make its day dream last a tad longer. The Samsung suit seems pretty in sync with TiVo’s IP litigation strategy as seen in the previous cases. With its most popular patent, the Time Warp System, expiring in 2018, it may be an uphill journey from then on for TiVo.


Authored by Anchita Sharma

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