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Cable Technology Feature Article

January 25, 2011

Microsoft Files Patent Infringement Suits Against TiVo

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

It's a new year, and the media giants are showing no signs of ceasing their willingness to sue one another for patent infringement.

This time, Microsoft filed a trade complaint seeking to prevent TiVo (News - Alert), Inc., from importing television set-top boxes. According to Bloomberg, the complaint Microsoft (News - Alert) submitted today to the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington (ITC) accuses TiVo of infringing on four Microsoft patents. The tech giant is asking that TiVo be barred from importing the digital-video recorders, which are primarily made in Mexico and sold in the U.S.

The four patents in question relate to program schedules and selection, controlling the interface and a way to restrict use of the DVR based on the program’s rating. Microsoft said the technology is used in its Mediaroom software that runs on competing set-top boxes, including AT&T’s (News - Alert) U-Verse service, to which Microsoft licenses the technology.

Microsoft has also filed the same complaint in a civil lawsuit in federal court in Seattle, according to the U.K. paper The Register.

It's not the first time Microsoft has sued TiVo for patent infringement, claiming that in displaying programming information, TiVo illegally used technology from Microsoft's Mediaroom. AT&T filed a separate suit against TiVo. TiVo counter-sued AT&T in response, claiming that the technology in question belonged to it, and that AT&T was actually infringing on its patents.

Microsoft, for its part, said it would be amenable to licensing the software to TiVo. “We remain open to resolving this situation through an intellectual property licensing agreement, and we look forward to continued negotiations with TiVo,” Kevin Kutz, a Microsoft spokesman, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg (News - Alert).

TiVo has yet to respond to the offer.

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Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf