Advanced Television

TiVo patent battle with Comcast ramps up

April 23, 2019

By Chris Forrester

PVR specialist TiVo, via its Rovi owner, has hit cable giant Comcast with another patent misuse legal action and alleging that Comcast is infringing six of its technology patents.

Specifically, TiVo/Rovi is arguing in a Los Angeles federal court that Comcast’s X1 video recording hardware and software infringed six TiVo/Rovi patents.

The alleged misuse covers various DVR functions, including technology that allows users to easily restart programmes and methods for displaying real-time data such as sports scores within interactive programme guides. Additionally, the writ says that Comcast is using TiVo/Rovi’s multi-room functionality.

Comcast and TiVo had entered into a licensing agreement for the use of TiVo technology but that agreement expired in 2016. Comcast, in essence, is arguing that it has since developed its own technological solutions that do not infringe TiVo patents.

“Rovi has in recent years deployed its increasingly obsolete patent portfolio in an unsuccessful litigation campaign seeking to charge Comcast and our customers for technology that Rovi did not invent,” a Comcast official said in a statement. “Rovi launched this campaign in April 2016 by asserting infringement of 15 patents – 14 of which have been held to be invalid and/or not infringed by Comcast, or have been withdrawn by Rovi. While we haven’t had an opportunity to review Rovi’s latest complaint, we will continue to defend ourselves against allegations we determine to be meritless.”

The specific allegations cover:

US Patent No. 8,001,564: Electronic Programme Guide With Digital Storage Directory, granted Aug. 16, 2011. Covering the X1 interactive programme guide.

US Patent No. 7,779,445: Interactive Television Systems With Digital Video Recording and Adjustable Reminders, granted Aug. 17, 2010. Covering Comcast X1’s “Restart” and “Instant on Demand” video service functionality.

US Patent No. 7,386,871: Programme Guide System With Real-Time Data Sources, granted June 10, 2008. With this patent, TiVo specifically targets the X1 Sports App, which covers listings and real-time data for sporting events.

US Patent No. 8,156,528: Personal Video Recorder Systems and Methods, granted April 10, 2012. This patent targets Comcast’s X1 AnyRoom DVR functionality for DVR and non-DVR boxes that can access recorded programmes.

US Patent No. 7,301,900: Method and Apparatus for Hub-Based Network Access Via a Multimedia System, granted Nov. 27, 2007. With this patent, TiVo is targeting Comcast’s X1 platform’s integration of various apps and services, including Comcast’s cloud DVR, YouTube, Pandora, Netflix, iHeartRadio, Tubi, Facebook, Horoscopes and Weather.

US Patent No. 7,200,855: Method and Apparatus of Multiplexing a Plurality of Channels in a Multimedia System, granted April 3, 2007. With this patent (originally filed by ViXS), TiVo is arguing that Comcast’s X1 products using Comcast servers to access X1 applications.

Categories: Articles, Policy, PVR, Regulation