Dish Network will pay digital video recorder pioneer TiVo over $100 million in damages and interest for infringing its “time warp” patent. The Supreme Court has denied a petition to review a previous ruling against the satellite television company, which subsequently implemented software that it says does not infringe the TiVo patent. A district court judge has yet to determine whether the Dish Network could be in contempt of the earlier injunction.
Dish, known as EchoStar Communications until it split its hardware and programming businesses last year, has agreed to pay Tivo approximately $104 million, which is the amount with interest awarded by the jury in 2006.
“The Supreme Court’s decision, however, does not impact our software design-around, which has been placed in Dish DVRs subject to the district court’s injunction, and our customers can continue using their Dish DVRs,” the company said in a statement. “We believe that the design-around does not infringe Tivo’s patent and that Tivo’s pending motion for contempt should be denied.”
For its part, TiVo representatives stated that they were “extremely pleased” that the Supreme Court has denied the petition and “remain confident that the District Court will enforce the injunction and award further damages from EchoStar’s continued infringement of our Time Warp patent”. A decision is expected within a month.
Satellite operators Dish and DirectTV have fallen in value in the current economic climate. Dish recently announced a net loss of subscribers and the loss of a marketing arrangement with AT&T, which appeared to put paid to any prospect of a possible merger with the telecommunications company. A merger between Dish and DIRECTV remains a possibility but has been largely ruled out for regulatory reasons related to competition.
TiVo, on the other hand, appears to be turning a corner, and turning a modest profit after ten years of losses.
Whatever the final outcome of the long-running patent dispute, Dish could end up following other operators in entering into a licence agreement with TiVo.