It is no secret that Dish Network and partner EchoStar lost to TiVo in a ruling concerning whether the satellite companies’ video recorders infringed on TiVo’s patents. What was amazing was the possibility of an unprecedented billion in legal sanctions that TiVo sought against the former sister companies. Today, a US District Court Judge in Eastern Texas did award TiVo a sizable contempt sanction sum of 0 million, which by most rational measures is still huge.
TiVo had requested treble damages — three times the estimated base value of the infringement — under the theory that EchoStar and its then-subsidiary Dish willfully infringed upon TiVo’s technology. That much was apparently rejected today.
However, the 0 million damages sum will be lumped together with the 4 million principal judgment against TiVo last October, plus attorneys’ fees, for a prize package that TiVo this afternoon estimated at around 0 million. That could go higher, TiVo said today, should Dish be unsuccessful on its latest appeal — it said the court will entertain the notion of “enhanced sanctions,” perhaps including interest on unpaid existing sanctions. This for manufacturing and distributing a digital program recorder that the court found infringed upon TiVo’s patented “Time Warp” technology.
But the huge ray of hope for Dish — one which could literally lead to a complete reversal of fortune for it and EchoStar — still shines brightly this afternoon, even though the US Supreme Court flat-out refused to hear the companies’ original appeal. This time, they have new ammunition in their favor: a preliminary rejection of the “Time Warp” patent by the US Patent Office.
Dish Network does not deny it was aware of TiVo’s patent from the very beginning; in fact, it continues to contend that its original technology is a “Time Warp” workaround. This despite Dish’s promises last year to deploy a different workaround. The key passage from Dish’s statement today is this: “While we disagree that any amount of sanctions was warranted, the decision confirms our belief that we designed around TiVo’s patent in good faith.”