Microsoft Sues TiVo. On Behalf of AT&T.

Dave Zatz —  January 20, 2010

The plot thickens… After taking a pound of flesh from DISH Network (with more to come?), TiVo was looking for a repeat time shifting patent infringement performance from Verizon and AT&T. But AT&T isn’t quietly acquiescing to a licensing settlement. As Microsoft, who provides the Mediaroom DVR experience to AT&T’s U-verse customers, has just filed suit against TiVo for patent infringement of their own related to:

a system that displays programmable information and a secure method for buying and delivering video programs.

It’ll be interesting to see how these two cases play out. Although, it’s likely the public won’t actually see much of anything. As I suspect TiVo, AT&T, and Microsoft will choose to skip the time and expense of protracted courtroom battles, with uncertain outcomes, by cross licensing each others intellectual property. And then moving on. Which leaves Verizon.

8 responses to Microsoft Sues TiVo. On Behalf of AT&T.

  1. -insert Rodney King quote here-

  2. Doesn’t look like this has anything to do with what Tivo sued AT&T for. Looks more like Microsoft wants a cut of Amazon Video rentals and what they are doing with displaying the programming avaialble. Can not see it being the Programming Guide integration since that is licensed already.

  3. Dennis, that’s the point – they’re not taking it head on. They went through their patent portfolio to find some leverage and this is what they feel provides the most powerful ammo. And if you read the source article, it specifically mentions Microsoft wants to be added to AT&T’s defense. This is how these things work. Compare to an older reciprocal do-not-sue agreement between TiVo and DirecTV before they renegotiated a new partnership – and possibly why DirecTV picked up ReplayTV’s assets. Leverage.

  4. The problem with the strategy is that AT&T has a lot more to lose than TiVo. Assuming that this did go all the way and TiVo lost, they’d have to quit offering Amazon and Blockbuster rentals. Not exactly a core part of their service. Assuming a worst case scenario for AT&T, they wouldn’t be allowed to offer DVR service, something that would have a much bigger impact on their paid television business. I agree with you that it all ends up with them cross licensing their patents, but at best this is just a negotiation tactic to try and get better terms by AT&T.

  5. I wouldn’t expect happy settlement talks any time soon. Patents are not of equal value. TiVo will certainly have to evaluate the value and enforceability, if any, of Microsoft’s competing patents. I expect this will go on for years unless the details of these two points are plainly obvious.

  6. Davis, I’m counting you to dig up any eventual licensing details via 8ks and what not as you usually do, because they probably wouldn’t publicize the numbers and specific break down via a release. Dale, yeah no doubt I’m over simplifying it all and don’t have the legal background you do. You’re both probably right, given TiVo’s newly issued statement:

    “Microsoft’s recent legal actions, including its decision to seek to intervene on behalf of its customer, AT&T, and its recent complaint against TiVo in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California do not bear on whether the AT&T products and services that are the subject of TiVo’s complaint infringe the patents asserted by TiVo. Rather these actions are part of a legal strategy to defend AT&T. We remain confident in our position that AT&T will be found to infringe on the TiVo patents asserted.”

  7. OK – is anyone able to provide us with the patent filing/approval dates for the ones that Microsoft is asserting TiVo is infringing?

    When I read through the original article the “displaying programmable information” struck me as the EPG that was part of the TVGuide licensing a few years ago.

  8. The patents at issue:

    6,008,803 – http://tinyurl.com/yzfx69d
    6,055,314 – http://tinyurl.com/yzjhoye