TiVo Begins Patent Lawsuit Against EchoStar

31 March 2006

US digital video recorder pioneer TiVo has begun its patent-infringement lawsuit against satellite television operator EchoStar Communications.

TiVo co-founder and former ceo Michael Ramsey told the federal court in East Texas that the company shared details of its technology with EchoStar's Dish Network, which later used the knowledge to create its own DVR boxes.

EchoStar, which will be hit with a $100 million (€82.8m; £57.5m) claim for damages if California-headquartered TiVo wins the case, claims it came up with its own technology that differs from the plaintiff's in several ways.

The company's lawyer Harold McElhinny told the court: "We have 1,500 engineers at EchoStar. We built it ourselves." He suggested TiVo was pursuing the lawsuit because it was unable to turn a profit due to tough competition.

Industry analysts say the outcome of the case could have a big impact on TiVo's bottom line as it will determine whether the company can pressure cable providers to pay licensing fees for the DVRs they lease to subscribers.

TiVo's name has become synonymous in the US with recording, pausing and rewinding live television shows but it has failed to make money since its inception in 1997. It received its patent in 2001 but until now it has been largely unenforced.

The hearing, expected to last for two weeks, continues.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff