Comcast and TiVo conduct settlement talks, fail to reach agreement

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A source with knowledge of the TiVo-Comcast litigation said settlement talks occurred “within the last week,” and that Comcast participated in them simply because they were an ITC requirement. (Pixabay)

Comcast and TiVo conducted brief settlement talks over their protracted patents dispute. But the negotiations, required by the International Trade Commission (ITC), were brief and went nowhere, according to an individual with knowledge of the talks. 

The source said the talks occurred “within the last week,” and that Comcast participated in them simply because they were an ITC requirement.

Neither TiVo or Comcast would comment for this story.

Last month during TiVo’s first-quarter earnings call, company president and CEO Enrique Rodriguez told investors, “I am confident that Comcast will ultimately be licensed to use our intellectual property for the benefit of their business and their consumers.” He added that TiVo’s court battle with Comcast remains a “top priority.” 

TiVo, which is the corporate manifestation of a $1.1 billion purchase of DVR pioneer TiVo by intellectual property licensor Rovi, is battling Comcast in court, claiming the cable operator uses TiVo patents in its X1 video platform. Comcast has said TiVo’s patents are obsolete and that it now develops most of its X1 technology in-house. 

The battle reached a fever pitch in November, when the ITC ruled that Comcast had indeed violated patents on technologies that let users schedule set-top DVR recordings remotely via mobile device. Comcast responded by removing that feature from X1, which it said was used by less than 1% of its subscribers.

With the ITC not ruling in TiVo’s favor on most of the patents it complained about, the company went back on the offensive in January, filing separate patent suits in California and Massachusetts federal courts. In February, Comcast filed an emergency petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals, seeking to move up its hearing as it continues to battle TiVo over patent licensing.

The kerfuffle had been pretty quiet, leading one source to suggest to FierceCable that settlement negotiations might be at hand. However, Comcast appears to still be awaiting its day in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals. 

According to law firm Banner & Witcoff, Baker Botts and Ropes & Gray, Comcast was the biggest petitioner against patent claims in all of technology in 2017, and 44 of its 45 filed petitions were directed at TiVo’s Rovi division—which was the biggest target for such petitions in all of tech … with 44 petitions targeting the company. 

In 2016, TiVo combined forces with Intellectual Ventures to form the biggest patent portfolio in all of tech. 

TiVo reported intellectual property revenue of $73 million for the first quarter, down 20% from a year prior. Overall, TiVo generated $189.8 million in revenue for the quarter, down 7.7% from the first quarter of 2017.

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