Does the DVR have a future as a consumer electronics device, or is it destined to be only a software interface? While you ponder that question or debate it with your neighbor, TiVo, the company that made the DVR famous as a hunk of C.E. hardware, may be counting its cash. In the latest development in a long-running patent infringement case, a federal appeals court upheld sanctions and damages against satellite TV provider Dish Network and EchoStar. The related companies may have to pay TiVo up to $300 million. Dish said its customers will not lose DVR functionality, however, because it is preparing a work-around solution.
What the court decision means for Verizon Communications and AT&T, who also have been sued by TiVo over DVR patents, is unclear. As we have noted in the past, TiVo has played both foe and would-be friend to service providers, suing them with one hand and wooing them with the other. Will the telcos be more likely to work things out with TiVo, or dig in for a tougher fight? The court victory last week came just after TiVo released its new Premiere DVR hardware incorporating access to online content from Netflix, Amazon and others.
Meanwhile, Boxee CEO Avner Ronen last week said the DVR is dead, or at least dying. You might have a hard time explaining that to TiVo.