TiVo Hits Comcast With More Lawsuits Targeting X1

New round of suits focus on patents tied to pausing/resuming shows on multiple devices, advanced search, voice functionality (Updated)
Tivo - Rovi Logo New 400x300.jpg

Following a recent ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission, TiVo said it has followed up by filing additional lawsuits against Comcast that target an array of features and capabilities offered on the MSO’s X1 platform.

The new round of suits, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, allege that Comcast’s X1 platform infringes on patents involving features that include pausing and resuming shows on different devices, restarting live programming in progress, advanced DVR recording features, and advanced search & voice functionality.

“The patents involved in the new complaints represent a very small component of Rovi’s worldwide patent portfolio,” said TiVo. 

TiVo, which hasn't always come out on top in these cases (prior to the Rovi merger, Rovi lost a case against Netflix follwing a ruling that invalidated a handful of patents), has been asked to elaborate on the patents involved in the latest round of lawsuits. Comcast, which has said that its X1 platform was developed 100% by its engineers, has been asked for comment on the two new lawsuits. 

Update:Comcast issued this statement: 

“Comcast engineers independently created our X1 products and services, and through its litigation campaign against Comcast, Rovi seeks to charge Comcast and its customers for technology Rovi didn’t create.  Rovi’s attempt to extract these unfounded payments for its aging and increasingly obsolete patent portfolio has failed to date.  And as we have in their other suits, we will continue to aggressively defend ourselves.”

Update: According to the complaints, the following U.S. TiVo/Rovi patents are asserted in the two new lawsuits (they include some intellectual property that stemmed from Rovi’s acquisition of voice search tech startup Veveo in 2014:

-No. 9,294,799: Systems and methods for providing storage of data on servers in an on-demand media delivery system

-No. 9,369,741: Interactive television systems with digital video recording and adjustable reminders

-No. 7,827,585: Electronic program guide with digital storage

-No. 9,578,363: Content Access

-No. 9,668,014: Systems and methods for identifying and storing a portion of a media asset

-No. 9,621,956: Systems and methods for providing a transport control interface

-No. 7,779,011 and No. 7,937,394: Method and system for dynamically processing ambiguous, reduced text search queries and highlighting results thereof

The new lawsuits come after TiVo won a round against Comcast at the ITC, which, in November, issued a limited exclusion order prohibiting importation of certain DVR and hardware and software. The ITC’s final ruling (currently in a 60-day Presidential review period) followed an initial determination last May finding that various respondents, including Comcast, had violated two TiVo patents – No. 8,006,263 and 8,578,413 that describe “Interactive Television Program Guide with Remote Access,” while four other patents asserted by TiVo/Rovi in the case “were found to have no violation at this point.”

RELATED: TiVo Notches Win in ITC Patent Battle with Comcast

At the time, Comcast said it disagreed with the ITC’s decision and that in would pursue an appeal. In the meantime, Comcast has disabled a feature from its Stream app for mobile devices and web browsers that enables customers to schedule DVR recordings remotely. Comcast also stressed then that Rovi/TiVo had never disputed that Comcast or its predecessors independently developed its X1 platform and its cloud- and app-based technology.

TiVo/Rovi also said it plans to file additional legal action with the ITC regarding the same patents asserted in the latest lawsuits, and will likewise be seeking an exclusion order preventing alleged infringing X1 set-top boxes from continuing to be imported into the United States.

“Our goal is for Comcast to renew its long-standing license so it can continue providing its customers the many popular features Rovi invented,” Enrique Rodriguez, TiVo’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

In an interview in Las Vegas at CES earlier this week, Rodriguez, who took the helm of TiVo last November,  noted that nine of the top ten service providers have signed new license agreements with TiVo, which merged with Rovi in the fall of 2016. Comcast, of course, is the standout. 

“My goal is to have the right relationship with Comcast,” Rodriguez said, noting that litigation is not a great use of company resources and is considered a “last resort.”