While TiVo creates amazing products and has successfully deployed their solution to numerous cable operators around the world, beyond patent litigation and licensing, they haven’t found much financial success. Basically, the writing was on the wall.
A few weeks back, the USPTO published TiVo’s latest patent: Program Shortcuts, which is effectively an update to their 2009 filing. As a non-patent attorney industry observer, I’ve seen substantial resources wasted litigating a variety of obvious, generic functionality that perhaps should be free of protection. Indeed, generally speaking, “bookmarking” isn’t new or unique … across a variety of platforms, including a long history of favoriting set-top channels, setting upcoming show reminders, and tagging On Demand video content for future viewing.
With the soap box behind us, TiVo’s Program Shortcuts patent does indeed provide some interesting clues as to their upcoming direction. And, given the refiling, beyond reassigning the patent from TiVo employees to TiVo itself, one can assume the company is both serious about the described functionality and presumably closer to implementation. From the abstract:
Having settled with Belkin back in June, Sling Media’s placeshifting intellectual property was further bolstered today when the International Trade Commission closed out the case against Monsoon Multimedia via a US import and sales ban of products that infringe upon 6 Sling patents.
The Commission has determined that the appropriate form of relief in this investigation is a limited exclusion order prohibiting the unlicensed entry of electronic devices having placeshifting or display replication functionality and products containing the same that are manufactured abroad by or on behalf of, or imported by or on behalf of, the Defaulting Respondents by reason of infringement of one or more of claims […] The Commission has also determined to issue cease and desist orders directed against Monsoon and C2 Microsystems, which prohibit, inter alia, the importation, sale, advertising, marketing, and distribution of covered products in the United States by the Defaulting Respondents.
Over the years, Monsoon has marketed various streamers including
While TiVo’s crushed it in defending their time warp and associated DVR patents, the company has a spottier record when it comes to trademarks – abandoning valuable assets and tilting at windmills. Even though the “TiVolution” mark was officially cancelled about 18 months ago, given TiVo’s European expansion and phonetic similarities, we suspect they may … Read more
While the Slingbox may be the most well known placeshifting technologies, there have been others… And Sling Media rival Monsoon, makers of HAVA and Vulkano devices, licensed their tech to Belkin under the @TV brand in 2012. Presumably due to Belkin’s broad retail footprint, Sling took issue and launched a patent infringement suit in January. Monsoon … Read more
The Wall Street Journal is out with a report indicating my former employer, and the visionary behind the Slingbox, has landed a new gig: Microsoft Corp.has acquired a small home-entertainment technology startup to beef up its Xbox unit, according to people familiar with the matter. The company, id8 Group R2 Studios Inc., was created by … Read more
As you’ve probably heard, Apple and Samsung are going at it via a variety of legal challenges across the globe. And, while litigation generally bores me, I was pretty stoked to discover my buddy Kevin Tofel cited in evidence.
Kevin’s the biggest 7″ tablet evangelist I know. In fact, he recently penned an article declaring small tablets will replace smartphones… and believes it. While I have my doubts, Kevin routinely carries a 7″ tablet with him — here I am holding his Nexus 7 loaner while we wandered around Vegas last month and he recently “called” me from his yard, given the video, from another tab using Google Chat.
So it’s amazingly acknowledging to see Apple execs literally sharing Kevin’s interest in this particular form factor as you can see from the email (below) that Eddie Cue sent to Tim Cook, Scott Forstall, and Phil Schiller.
While TiVo rarely generates positive cash flow via DVR subscribers, they’re sitting on a healthy war chest via patent litigation victories. So why not drop $20 million cash on New York-based TRA to expand their media research services (and patent portfolio)? From the announcement:
TiVo Inc. (NASDAQ: TIVO), a leader in the advanced television entertainment market, today announced that it has agreed to acquire TRA, Inc., maker of the first and leading platform with the world’s largest database that directly links information from the same households as to what viewers watch with what they buy. TRA matches television exposures from 1.5 million TV homes with specific purchase transactions. The acquisition is expected to create a powerful combination of insights that will offer the TV advertising industry Internet-level measurement and accountability accelerating TiVo’s position in the billion dollar television analytics business.
According to the New York Times, TRA has had “27 cable and broadcast networks and 45 different advertising brands” on their roster during its five year existence (yet it’s not clear how many are still in play). T.R.A. originally resolved into “The Right Audience” … but will conveniently morph into “TiVo Research and Analytics” when the deal closes later this month. Interestingly, the Times pegs TiVo as a “television analytics company” — which is a bit like calling Apple an iPod company. Yet ,TiVo had been an investor in TRA and presumably the company will find synergies among the new and existing audience measurement tools (like Stop|Watch) along with their respective client rosters.
Meanwhile, across the pond,