Both TiVo and Comcast are claiming victory Tuesday after an administrative law judge working for the International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that the cable company violated one of the technology vendor’s patents.
Administrative Law Judge MaryJoan McNamara ruled that Comcast infringed on TiVo’s claims made for Patent No. 7,779,011, “Method and system for dynamically processing ambiguous, reduced text search queries and highlighting results thereof.”
The ruling is similar to one rendered by the ITC back in November 2017, also in favor of TiVo and against Comcast. The resulting exclusion order from that ruling convinced Comcast to deactivate a remote recording feature in its X1 video platform.
However, Judge McNamara’s latest ruling still must be reviewed by the full ITC Commission before another formal exclusion order would be levied against Comcast.
“We are thrilled by yet another legal victory,” said Arvin Patel, executive VP and chief intellectual property officer at Rovi Corporation, a TiVo company, speaking in a TiVo statement. “This decision demonstrates Comcast's repeated infringement of Rovi’s patents. We hope that today’s decision will encourage Comcast to pay the necessary licensing fees so their customers can once again access advanced cable features.”
Notably, McNamara dismissed TiVo’s claims in regard to Patent No. 9,369,741, “Interactive television systems with digital video recording and adjustable reminders”; and Patent No. 7,827,585, “Electronic program guide with digital storage.” Claims made by TiVo on five other patents were thrown out earlier.
“We view today’s initial determination to be a victory for Comcast because the administrative law judge found no violation as to two of the three patents addressed,” Comcast said in a statement. “We look forward to the full Commission’s review of the one remaining patent later this year, but we are confident, regardless, this ruling will not disrupt our service to our customers. Rovi also was unsuccessful on five other patents that it had previously withdrawn from this case. We will continue to resist Rovi’s efforts to force Comcast and our customers to make unreasonable payments for aging and obsolete patents.”
In the fight that spans not only the ITC, but multiple federal courts and several other jurisdictions, Comcast is coming off a string of victories against TiVo in the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeals Board.
But all TiVo needs is the occasional win, and the ITC has proven fruitful ground for the company.
Speaking to MCN last year, a TiVo attorney said the technology company’s goal is to litigate against Comcast over as many patents as it can, in as many venues as it is able. If Comcast is forced to disable too many X1 features, TiVo believes, it will be forced to settle.
As the only major pay TV company not paying TiVo royalties at this point, a victory by Comcast would undermine the rest of TiVo’s IP licensing business, the technology company surmises.
It's questionable how big a drip of blood TiVo would draw from this latest ruling.
An individual close to Comcast told MCN that if the full ITC Commission were to issue another exclusion order against X1 for Patent No. 7,779,011, the cable company’s users might not even notice if it stopped highlighting text in search results.
“It’s not like our customers would lose much,” the source said.
Regardless, TiVo seems determined to keep right on battling, with the tech company introducing half a dozen more patents for review by the ITC earlier this year.