More than four years after the court battle over IP began, but just months after the plaintiff was purchased by a larger intellectual property company, TiVo has finally settled its patent battle with Comcast.
“I don’t think we necessarily did anything different,” said Samir Armaly, president of IP licensing for Xperi, the company that purchased TiVo for $3 billion earlier this year.
In June, though, Xperi replaced the TiVo IP litigation team, led by Arvin Patel, with a group of lawyers led by Armaly, who has been with Xperi on and off since 1995.
Comcast had resisted paying TiVo tribute for technologies used in its X1 video platform for several years, arguing that it had developed most X1 tech with its own engineering resources.
TiVo, which started trolling the IP licensing business in 2016 following
its $1.1 billion merger with Rovi, sought a kind of war of attrition with Comcast, suing it over as many patents as it could in as many venues it was able to.
The hope was that Comcast would have to ditch so many X1 features in order to avoid paying TiVo license fees that it would eventually settle.
In the end, Xperi Holdings, a company with a market capitalization of just over $1.8 billion, had waited out Comcast, with a market cap exceeding $218 billion.
So what finally brought Comcast to the table?
Armaly wouldn’t speak to what changed Comcast’s position. And Comcast deferred to the joint statement on the deal — in which both sides said they were pleased with the outcome — as its only comment. But Armaly did speculate that the merger with Xperi, which created a larger IP licensing company, might have improved TiVo’s leverage.
The merger, he added, also clarified TiVo’s market position, which had been previously in flux with the pre-merger management looking to split the IP licensing and products operations.
Armaly conceded that the fight wasn’t cheap. Before the merger, TiVo routinely broke out its Comcast litigation costs during its earnings reports.
“Certainly, this was something that took a lot of mindshare and effort,” he said. “Freeing that up is going to have a lot of benefits, not only on the expense side. And not only that, it was a very public dispute.”
Comcast Deal Was Crucial
Armaly reiterated the existential nature of Comcast not paying royalties. Xperi couldn’t keep demanding licensing fees from other pay TV operators if the biggest fish the pond wasn’t capitulating, he said.
With Comcast in hand, “U.S. pay TV is largely resolved,” Armaly added.
The focus now will be going after international pay TV companies who Xperi says are also using TiVo technologies in their set-top boxes.
Specifically, he cited Canada as the top target. Notably, Rogers Communications, Shaw Communications and Vidéotron all license X1 technology from Comcast.
“Canada is certainly an opportunity that we’re excited to have,” Armaly said.
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