Judge: EchoStar Must Disable DVRs

A U.S. federal judge ordered EchoStar Communications on Thursday to disable its digital video recorders (DVRs) that infringe on a patent held by TiVo.

Judge David Folsom of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas granted an injunction mandating that all but 192,708 DVRs violating a TiVo patent should be shut off within 30 days. It was not clear how many of EchoStar’s DVRs the ruling would affect.

EchoStar said it will ask the court on Friday to block the injunction, and it will also appeal the ruling. The company said it will modify its set-top boxes, used for receiving satellite broadcasts and recording programs, to avoid further patent problems.

In April, a jury found EchoStar improperly used TiVo’s "Time Warp" technology that allows users to store programs and use functions such as slow motion, fast forward, rewind and pause on TV programs. The jury awarded TiVo approximately US$74 million in damages

In addition to the injunction, Folsom added $5.6 million in interest and $10.3 million in supplemental damages for infringement, bringing the total judgment close to $90 million.

EchoStar, with headquarters in Englewood, Colo., has offered a satellite TV product since 1995. The company says it has about 12.5 million customers for its DISH Network, a subscription satellite TV service.

It also claims to be the first company to offer satellite receivers capable of recording digital video, the focus of the legal proceedings.

TiVo, of Alviso, Calif., received a patent for the technology in 2001. After two and a half years of talks between TiVo and EchoStar on a possible business alliance were unsuccessful, TiVo filed suit in January 2004.

-Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service (London Bureau)

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