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TiVo has AT&T, Verizon on ropes over patents

By PETER WHITE

Published: 20 October, 2011

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US TiVo watchers say the company may have AT&T and Verizon ready to enter negotiations to end their patent infringement legal dispute with TiVo. The idea comes from people closely watching the case and seeing the judge for both cases, David Folsom, make a ruling on the wording of the patent claims, which appears to lean heavily in TiVo's favor. In effect he has said what is and what isn't to be understood by a variety of terms, and the Telco legal teams are already in retreat.

It was never a surprise when TiVo went after AT&T's U-Verse and Verizon's FiOS Pay TV services once it had wrapped up the Dish case. TiVo has now proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that it has valid patents in the invention of the Digital Video Recorder and can now chase everyone. If it does settle with these two US giants soon, it can then go after hundreds of players that make or use DVRs the world over.

AT&T may fold its hand so that it doesn't end up with a $100 million damages claims as Dish did and a multi $100 million punitive royalty. Our view is that TiVo would be unlucky not to win this case, and to come away with less than $100 million in payments plus ongoing royalties from both cases combined.

AT&T and Verizon have also persuaded their suppliers Microsoft and Motorola to each bring patent infringement cases against TiVo, but both are trying it with patents in other areas, which have never been verified in court. This move alone may incense TiVo to the point where it goes after Microsoft Mediaroom clients, many of which use Motorola built DVRs.

The two telcos may fight on, but once this trial gets under way, a settlement for them will look more and more expensive. At some point both Microsoft and Motorola could be forced to license the TiVo technology on behalf of their global client base. And we think that so will Cisco, Technicolor, Pace, Samsung, Humax and NDS, to name but a few. But right now all of their instincts are to try to bully tiny TiVo.

For a full analysis of this subject go to www.rethinkresearch.biz/faultine and order this week's Faultline issue.

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