Comcast, the second largest cable television provider in the United States, has lost another battle over patent infringement in a case brought by TiVo, the pioneer in the field of home digital television recording.
The ruling means Comcast will not be allowed to import set-top boxes with a content search function as a result.
Bloomberg News reports Rovi, the parent company of TiVo, won the case Thursday. It is the second of three cases the International Trade Commission (ITC) is expected to hear on Comcast’s infringement of their patents after a licensing agreement between the two companies expired in 2016. (RELATED: Tucker Unpacks Connections Between Comcast’s Theme Park Deal In China And Favorable Coverage)
In the first case, Rovi won their claim that Comcast violated their patent for “remote access to program guide functions,” and saw the cable giant banned from importing boxes with that feature from their plants in Asia. As a result, Comcast had the feature removed from its devices.
Comcast, which owns NBC Universal – the parent company of NBC and MSNBC – faces one more complaint by Rovi related to digital video recording and cloud storage, with the case expected to be decided in June. (RELATED: Megyn Kelly, Greta Van Susteren Call For Comcast To Crack The Whip On Alleged Sexual Misconduct At NBC)
Bloomberg News reports B. Riley FBR, a leading full-service investment bank, wrote in a Dec. 11 note to clients that, “Incremental patent validity/infringement wins by TiVo in the ITC will not only diminish the value of the Comcast X1 platform in the eyes of pay-TV subscribers within an increasingly competitive environment, but could move Comcast closer to a settlement/license with TiVo.” (RELATED: US Ramps Up Crackdown On China’s Spying Efforts During Coronavirus)
Republican New York Congressman Peter King noted in a letter that “if Comcast were to simply pay the licensing fees that its competitors pay, it would not have any trouble providing the technology to its customers.”
Conservative groups have taken the side of TiVo as well, with organizations like Tea Party Patriots Action, Frontiers of Freedom Institute, the 60 Plus Association and Americans for Limited Government all submitting public comments on behalf of the company.
Tea Party Patriots Action has gone so far as to produce a documentary on the problems of large corporations, big tech companies, and China stealing or infringing on U.S. patents with abandon.
The immediate impact on what Comcast can offer consumers appears to be limited, but the long-term impact is where TiVo sees its advantage to gain relief. TiVo CEO Dave Shull was quoted last year as saying, “Over time, and it’ll take time, I think they’ll be at the point where they substantially start to hurt their consumer offering. And so that that’s a long-term commitment for us for litigation.”