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EchoStar says appeals court stays ruling on DVR workaround

Dish Network DVRs can temporarily remain functioning despite Tuesday's contempt ruling.

Less than 24 hours after a federal judge found EchoStar in contempt in its long-running patent dispute with TiVo, another judge issued a temporary stay Wednesday, according to EchoStar.

"We are pleased that the Federal Appeals Court in Washington temporarily stayed the district court's order in the TiVo litigation. Dish Network customers can continue using their DVRs. We believe that we have strong grounds for appeal," the company said in a statement.

The temporary stay drags out even further a legal contest that is now five years old. It seemed like it had come close to reaching its conclusion on Tuesday evening when U.S. District Judge David Folsom found EchoStar, which is now part of Dish Network, in contempt of court for violating a permanent injunction by reprogramming millions of DVRs with a new "workaround." He then ordered EchoStar to pay $103 million to TiVo.

"The harm caused to TiVo by EchoStar's contempt is substantial," Folsom wrote. "EchoStar has gained millions of customers since this court's injunction was issued, customers that are now potentially unreachable by TiVo."

TiVo first sued EchoStar in 2004 for violating a patent on a "multimedia time-warping system," which involved recording a program on one channel while watching another.

A jury in 2006 found that Dish Network's DVRs infringed upon a patent held by TiVo and ordered it to pay TiVo $73.9 million in damages. A federal appeals court upheld the ruling in January 2008, as did a second U.S. appeals court in April 2008.

CNET News' Steven Musil contributed to this report.