Microsoft Sues TiVo Over Patents Again

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Citing its customer AT&T, Microsoft on Monday filed complaints with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington and the International Trade Commission against TiVo, alleging the DVR company infringes four Microsoft patents.

The actions come one year after Microsoft sued TiVo in a California federal court and intervened on behalf of AT&T in TiVo's lawsuit against the telco, which uses Microsoft's Mediaroom IPTV platform.

With the latest complaints, Microsoft is seeking to have the U.S. government ban TiVo from importing its DVRs -- which are manufactured primarily in Mexico -- into the United States of set-top boxes and hardware and software components, or alternatively have a court order issue an injunction blocking TiVo from selling the products.

In a statement, Microsoft director of public affairs Kevin Kutz, "We have a strong and robust patent portfolio that we will vigorously defend against infringement. It is our responsibility to protect our customers and partners and to safeguard the investments we make to bring innovative products and services to market."

However, Kutz added, "we remain open to resolving this situation through an intellectual property licensing agreement, and we look forward to continued negotiations with TiVo."

TiVo declined to comment on the latest Microsoft actions.

Microsoft accuses TiVo's DVRs -- including the TiVo Premiere, TiVo Premiere XL, TiVo HD and TiVo HD XL -- of infringing four of its U.S. patents: 5,585,838 ("Program Time Guide"); 5,731,844 ("Television Scheduling System for Displaying a Grid Representing Scheduled Layout and Selecting a Programming Parameter for Display or Recording"); 6,028,604 ("User Friendly Remote System Interface Providing Previews of Applications"); and 5,758,258 ("Selective Delivery of Programming for Interactive Televideo System").

"Microsoft makes extensive use of the inventions claimed in the Microsoft Patents in its Mediaroom product/software," the software company said in its ITC complaint. "Microsoft licenses its Mediaroom software platform to AT&T subsidiaries, which use the software in connection with the U-verse subscriber service."

Microsoft stepped into the legal fray after TiVo sued AT&T and Verizon Communications for patent infringement in August 2009.

The DVR company alleged the telcos violated three of its patents: U.S. Patent Nos. 6,233,389 B1 ("Multimedia Time Warping System") -- which a court previously found EchoStar and Dish Network to have infringed -- 7,529,465 B2 ("System for Time Shifting Multimedia Content Streams"), and 7,493,015 B1 ("Automatic Playback Overshoot Correction System").

AT&T and Verizon have countersued TiVo. Meanwhile, TiVo is still waiting for a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit about a previous contempt ruling in TiVo's patent-infringement case against Dish and EchoStar.

On Jan. 19, 2010, Microsoft sued TiVo in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California for alleged infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,008,803 ("System for Displaying Programming Information") and 6,055,314 ("System and Method for Secure Purchase and Delivery of Video Content Programs").

Then, in June 2010, Microsoft filed an amended complaint alleging infringement of the following additional five patents: U.S. Patent Nos. 5,654,748 ("Interactive Program Identification System"), 5,677,708 ("System for Displaying a List on a Display Screen"), 5,896,444 ("Method and Apparatus for Managing Communications Between a Client and a Server in a Network"), 6,725,281 ("Synchronization of Controlled Device State Using State Table and Eventing in Data-Driven Remote Device Control Model"), and 5,648,824 ("Video Control User Interface for Controlling Display of a Video").

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