TiVo Opens Another Legal Front in Battle with Comcast

Rovi Corp. continues to press its three-year-old legal battle with Comcast, filing suit over unpaid patents in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

According to the TiVo company, the patents relate to DVR functions including cloud or network recording, and whole-home DVR arrangements.

“Litigation is always a last resort, but Rovi is committed to taking the necessary actions to ensure Comcast renews its long-standing license for the use of our intellectual property,” said interim TiVo CEO Raghu Rau, in a statement. "The patents involved in the new complaint represent a very small component of Rovi's worldwide patent portfolio. Regardless of size, we have a commitment to our stakeholders, licensees and customers to take all necessary action to protect this portion of our patent portfolio."

Related: TiVo CEO Rau Says Comcast Will Still ‘Ultimately Pay’ Despite Recent Patent Board Wins

Comcast responded with this statement: “Rovi has in recent years deployed its increasingly obsolete patent portfolio in an unsuccessful litigation campaign seeking to charge Comcast and our customers for technology that Rovi did not invent. Rovi launched this campaign in April 2016 by asserting infringement of 15 patents--14 of which have been held to be invalid and/or not infringed by Comcast, or have been withdrawn by Rovi. While we haven’t had an opportunity to review Rovi’s latest complaint, we will continue to defend ourselves against allegations we determine to be meritless.”

Rovi Corp. began a legal battle to get Comcast to make patent licensing payments in 2016, before its merger with TiVo. The tussle has mushroomed into a multi-venue affair spanning the International Trade Commission to various federal courts. In recent months, Comcast has won a series of victories with the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeals Board, with the government entity invalidating a number of contested Rovi patents.

In an interview with MCN last year, a TiVo/Rovi attorney said those appeals victories are relatively inconsequential to the company’s larger goal—to keep the pressure on Comcast and forcing it to settle. Having the largest U.S. pay TV operator not pay technology licensing fees would render TiVo’s patent business “untenable,” given all other major pay TV operators do pay these fees to the company.

Notably, TiVo's litigation cost spiked $1.1 million in the third quarter, part of a steadily escalating bill to sustain the fight against Comcast. 

“Over the past quarter century, Rovi has invested over a billion dollars in the research and development of our products and portfolio,” TiVo said in its statement today. “Hundreds of media and entertainment leaders around the world value Rovi’s innovations and recognize them by selecting our products and services and licensing our intellectual property. Until 2016, Comcast was one of those companies, enhancing their customers' entertainment experience with TiVo technology. After numerous attempts at negotiations, Rovi had no choice but to defend its intellectual property from unlicensed use in court.”

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!