Comcast Wants to Speed Up TiVo Case at ITC

Comcast has filed a motion at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit as it looks to expedite the briefing and hearing schedule for an appeal of its case at the International Trade Commission.

In November, the ITC issued a limited exclusion order prohibiting importation of certain DVR and hardware and software. That followed an initial determination last May finding that various respondents, including Comcast, had violated two TiVo patents – No. 8,006,263 and 8,578,413 -- that describe “Interactive Television Program Guide with Remote Access,” while four other patents asserted by TiVo/Rovi in the case “were found to have no violation at this point.”

RELATED: TiVo Notches Win in ITC Patent Battle with Comcast

As Comcast seeks its appeal of the ITC decision, the operator has disabled a feature from its Stream appfor mobile devices and web browsers that enables customers to schedule DVR recordings remotely.

Comcast said the filing of the new motion is a procedural step. CableFAX reported that Comcast is arguing that the ITC overstepped its authority with the ruling handed down late last year.

It’s not clear how much Comcast’s motion, if granted, will expedite the appeal (a decision on whether to grant it might be made before the end of February). Typically, it might take the Federal Circuit about a year to reach a decision. Without an accelerated briefing schedule, the hearing on Comcast’s appeal might get under way this fall. With it, it might get moved up to June or July, a personal familiar with the situation said.

RELATED: TiVo Notches Win in ITC Patent Battle with Comcast

In the meantime, TiVo, which merged with Rovi Corp. in the fall of 2016, has recently filed a companion to the ITC case that involves the same eight patents that are being asserted in a new round of litigation filed in district courts in California and Massachusetts. Those patents describe features such as pausing and resuming shows on different devices and some advanced search and voice functionality.

RELATED: TiVo Hits Comcast With More Lawsuits Targeting X1

That move essentially enables TiVo to put in parallel the patents and intellectual property it’s asserting in the district courts, where it would be seeking monetary damages, as well as with the proceedings at the ITC, which is instead focused on remedies that usually involve exclusion orders that would prevent infringing products from being imported to the U.S.

It’s expected that the cases at the district courts will get stayed until the appeals at the ITC get played out.

And there’s still no telling how long all of this will play out, as both sides have shown no signs of budging.

People familiar with the situation believe that Comcast will hold firm and fight it out in the courts rather than sign a deal, and that TiVo will continue to keep the pressure on Comcast with multiple lawsuits in the absence of a new licensing agreement.

TiVo has argued that the patents in the new complaints represent a “very small” part of its portfolio. At CES in January, recently named TiVo CEO Enrique Rodriguez said the goal is to “have the right relationship with Comcast” and that litigation is considered a “last resort.”

Comcast has been countering that TiVo’s patents have aged and are “increasingly obsolete” and that Comcast’s own engineers independently created X1 products and services.