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Setback for TiVo in long-running patent dispute

Patent office rejects TiVo's claim regarding time-warp technology. It could have repercussions in separate dispute with EchoStar.


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday rejected a claim by TiVo that it owns the patent on time-warp DVR technology.

TiVo released this statement Tuesday: "While TiVo is disappointed with this recent PTO office action, this is just one of several steps in the review process. We will continue to work with the PTO to explain the validity of the claims under review. It is important to note that TiVo received a 'final action' holding several claims invalid during EchoStar's first re-examination request at this juncture only to have the PTO ultimately uphold the validity of all claims of the patent."

Dish Network said it was encouraged by the ruling in the case running parallel to its own TiVo patent lawsuit.

"We are pleased the Patent and Trademark Office issued a Final Office Action maintaining its rejection of the software claims of TiVo's patent," Dish Network said in a statement. "These software claims are the same claims that EchoStar was found to have infringed in the contempt ruling now pending for en banc review by the Federal Circuit."

Though the two cases are technically unrelated, the uncertainty could be bad news for TiVo's the long-running dispute with EchoStar/Dish Network. In 2006, a Texas court first found Dish Network and its parent company EchoStar (they have since split into two companies) guilty of using TiVo's patented "time-warping" DVR technology. EchoStar was ordered to pay $74 million to TiVo. That amount was raised in September 2009 to $200 million.

But last month an appeals court granted EchoStar's petition for a rehearing of the case. A panel of three or more appellate judges will be listening to both sides re-argue the case, but this time, TiVo won't have the U.S. PTO's stamp of approval on its time-warp patent, which could cause a very different outcome this time around.