Dish on Wrong End of $469 Million Patent Verdict Over Commercial-Skipping Tech

Dish Network Hopper
(Image credit: Dish Network)

A Utah federal court has ruled that Dish Network must pay $469 million to parental-controls technology maker ClearPlay for violating two patents with the pay TV company's AutoHop commercial-skipping feature. 

ClearPlay makes technology that it says enables parents to automatically skip through video material they don't want their families to see, such as nudity. And let's just say ClearPlay is no stranger to the federal court system (opens in new tab), having fought numerous battles over the last two decades, along with another small and similarly minded Utah company, VidAngel, to "filter" (i.e. alter) content it doesn't own. 

Its case against Dish dates back to 2014, when far more Dish subscribers were allegedly using infringed-upon patents to automatically skip commercials via the satellite TV company's Hopper DVR. 

In arriving at its verdict, the Salt Lake City court dismissed ClearPlay's assertion that Dish willfully infringed upon patents '970 and '779. 

In a statement issued following Friday's verdict, Dish declared, nothing is over. 

"Though disappointed by the jury's verdict, we thank the jurors for their service," Dish said. "We remain confident that we do not infringe ClearPlay's patents, and will pursue post-verdict relief from the trial court and, if necessary, on appeal."

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!