Disputed TiVo patent claims rejected

(Updated with clarification of dates)

EchoStar and satellite TV affiliate Dish Network reported second-quarter earnings Monday, including an 81 percent profit drop for Dish, but a considerable subscriber gain. Meanwhile, the companies got some positive news last week in connection with their ongoing legal battle over TiVo DVR patents. Acting on a request by EchoStar and Dish to review the 2001 patent claims at the heart of the dispute, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office on Aug. 3 issued a preliminary rejection of two of the DVR pioneer's patent claims.

TiVo had initially sued Dish (then part of EchoStar Communications) about five years ago over patent infringement in connection with Dish's DVR service. At the end of June, a U.S. District Court in Texas ruled that Dish's workaround wasn't good enough, and that the satellite firm must disable the DVR functions in about 4 million units currently in service. Dish quickly won a stay of the order.

Though the patent office ruling seems to strengthen Dish's position, TiVo claimed in statements published in Multichannel News (in a story dated Aug. 10) that reversals of preliminary patent claim rulings are common, and that it would offer further explanation of its patent claims that it believes will lead to a reversal.

Meanwhile, it is unclear if the good news will keep Dish smiling for too long, given the profit tumble reported today. The satellite TV player has several telco TV partners, but may still be staggering after losing AT&T as a resale partner earlier this year.

For more:
- Multichannel News has this article

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Dish earned an extended stay against TiVo while appealing the case
Dish lost subscribers in the first quarter after losing AT&T
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