TiVo and its Rovi Corp. IP subsidiary have declared another legal victory in their long-running patent saga with Comcast.
The U.S. International Trade Commission issued a final ruling in the second patent case brought against Comcast by Rovi, ordering that Comcast and its pay TV set-top vendor, CommScope’s Arris division, can’t import X1 set-tops with a feature that highlights certain search text.
Comcast already removed this feature last year when an ITC administrative law judge determined the X1 feature infringed on a Rovi patent. Thursday’s finalized “second batch” ruling comes after a Federal Circuit Court ruling in March, upholding an iTC exclusion order pertaining to the first case Rovi brought against Comcast. The ITC is still set to rule on a third case brought by Rovi against Comcast.
“This is yet another win for TiVo—our second victory against Comcast this year,” said Arvin Patel, executive VP and chief intellectual property officer at Rovi Corp. “The Federal Circuit’s decision on March 2 affirmed the ITC’s final determination in our first ITC case against Comcast to ban the importation of Comcast’s set-top boxes that infringe Rovi’s patents. Today’s final determination in our second ITC case against Comcast reaffirms that Comcast’s X1 entertainment experience continues to violate TiVo’s patent rights. These rulings confirm that Comcast is subject to the ITC’s jurisdiction and cannot avoid liability for infringing TiVo’s patents.”
As has been the pattern over the last four years of this dispute, Comcast issued a statement shrugging off the ruling: “Today’s order will have no impact on either our customers or our business,” Comcast said in a statement provided to Bloomberg. “Rovi has admitted—and the ITC ruled—that our current system in non-infringing since we previously removed the insignificant highlighting feature related to the patent addressed in this ruling.”
Comcast is notably absent from the list of pay TV operators, consumer electronics companies and others in the video technology industry who pay IP tribute to Rovi. TiVo believes that bringing the largest U.S. pay TV operator to heel is existentially necessary to maintain its IP licensing business. And as such, it has set out on a kind of legal war of attrition, seeking to litigate with Comcast as much as it takes, and get Comcast to disable as many X1 features as it takes to bring the operator back to the bargaining table.
But even with rulings like the one that came Thursday, it’s hard to gauge TiVo’s progress. Among the first batch of patents disputed with ITC, Comcast was forced in late 2017, for example, to remove a remote DVR recording feature.
But that patent relating to that feature has since lapsed, and Comcast has restored the component to X1.