Top court stays out of DVR patent fight

October 6, 2008 8:05:12 AM PDT
The Supreme Court is refusing to disturb a $74 million judgment against Dish Network Corp. for violating a patent held by TiVo Inc. involving digital video recorders. The justices denied Englewood, Colo.-based Dish's appeal Monday without comment.

In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit agreed with a lower court that DVRs distributed by Dish, formerly known as EchoStar Communications Corp., violated the software elements of Alviso,Calif.-based TiVo's patent. The ruling overturned the lower court's finding that Dish also infringed on the patent's hardware elements.

TiVo sued in 2004, alleging that EchoStar, a satellite broadcaster, infringed on TiVo's patented technology that allows viewers to record one program while watching another. EchoStar Communications changed its name to Dish in late 2007.

TiVo pioneered digital video recorders that allow viewers to pause, rewind and fast forward live television shows.

The lower court had ordered Dish to shut down the 3 million digital video recorders used by its customers because they use TiVo's technology, but that order was put on hold pending appeal.

Dish Network has said that the ruling would not affect its customers because the company had developed and distributed new DVR software that "does not infringe the Tivo patent at issue in the Federal Circuit's ruling."

The case is EchoStar Communications v. TiVo, 08-179.