Interim TiVo CEO Raghu Rau downplayed a series of recent rulings against his company in its life-or-death patent battle with Comcast.
Speaking to investment analysts during TiVo’s third-quarter earnings call this week, Rau said the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which has sided with Comcast on a number of contested patents in recent months, is typically “unfriendly to patent holders,” anyway.
Rau said he’s “encouraged” regarding future PTAB rulings, given recent comments made by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Chief Andrei Iancu, a former intellectual property litigator who represented TiVo in the past. Rau said Iancu has indicated his intention to “change the way the PTAB works to make it more equitable for inventors.”
Rau said TiVo plans to appeal recent PTAB decisions to invalidate a number of patents over which TiVo has sued Comcast.
“Importantly,” he added, “these PTAB challenges and results have not changed the prior ruling that required Comcast to remove the remote recording capabilities.”
Last month, the PTAB invalidated Patent No. 8,578,413, which deals with remote scheduling of DVR recordings. This was the same patent that TiVo received a favorable ruling on a year ago from the International Trade Commission, leading Comcast to disable the remote recording feature in its X1 video operating system rather than pay licensing fees to TiVo.
As TiVo noted, Comcast would have to parlay the PTAB decision into a favorable federal court victory in order to clear a path to restoring the feature.
TiVo is battling Comcast in myriad venues in an important battle to get the cable operator to pay licensing fees on technologies it claims to own.
Through its merger with Rovi Corp. two years ago, TiVo controls thousands of patents, and virtually every other major pay TV operator pays licensing fees for them. But that lucrative business would unravel if Comcast were to succeed in court and avoid paying fees to TiVo.
The price has been steep for TiVo, which once again saw its litigation costs spike, this time by $1.1 million for the third quarter. Overall, TiVo reported third-quarter revenue of $164.7 million, down 17% year over year. The company was subsequently slammed on Wall Street for delivering lower than expected earnings per share.
Under interim CEO Rau, the technology continues the strategic review of its business, announced in its second quarter earnings call over the summer.
For now, however, its existential battle with Comcast rages on, not only in the PTAC, but in myriad venues spanning the ITC, district courts in New York, California and Massachusetts, as well as in a federal appeals court.
Rau said additional victories, such as the one it notably received in November of 2017 with the ITC, will force Comcast to “de-feature” more capabilities in its X1 platform, eventually forcing the cable company to come to terms with TiVo.
“Overall, while the particulars of the various legal fights might be complicated, our message is simple,” Raui said. “TiVo is fully committed to protecting its intellectual property from unauthorized use and we expect Comcast will ultimately pay a license for our innovations, just as its pay TV peer companies do and Comcast did in the past.”
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