Posted by: patdavila | August 28, 2009

Tivo goes apeshit and sues everyone in sight

After successfully suing Dish Network for $104 million last year Tivo is now suing Verizon and AT&T over alleged DVR patent infringements. While I am no patent attorney I find this development pretty disturbing. Tivo was an early innovator in the digital recording device market but now has much stiffer competition. Satellite and cable companies offer integrated devices for monthly fees. Software based commercial solutions like SageTV, BeyondTV and Windows Media Center require their users to install the software themselves on the hardware of their choice. Then there are F/OSS projects like MythTV and Freevo which are geared towards the real hardcore do-it-yourself type. How far Tivo takes these lawsuits is the big question. Will they eventually go after end users or just stick to companies with deep pockets? Will they even bother with F/OSS projects if their lawsuits are successful? Interesting enough Tivo lost 146,000 subscribers during the last quarter. This downward trend started in January 2006 and has just accelerated in poor economic times. Perhaps the product life cycle theory should be changed to include suing the competition over patents to extend it’s profitability? Regardless this case just emphasizes the need for patent reform in this country. The technology to record a tv show has been commercially available since 1965. Just because the recording sits on a hard drive instead of an analog tape is not that “innovative”. Troubling to say the least.

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