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TiVo Sues Comcast Again, Alleging Operator’s X1 Infringes Eight Patents

TiVo has launched a new legal attack on Comcast aimed a pushing the cable giant to reach a settlement to license TiVo-owned patents.

TiVo’s Rovi subsidiary on Wednesday filed two lawsuits in federal district courts, alleging Comcast’s X1 platform infringes eight TiVo-owned patents. That includes technology covering pausing and resuming shows on different devices; restarting live programming in progress; certain advanced DVR recording features; and advanced search and voice functionality.

A Comcast spokeswoman said the company will “aggressively defend” itself.

“Comcast engineers independently created our X1 products and services, and through its litigation campaign against Comcast, Rovi seeks to charge Comcast and its customers for technology Rovi didn’t create,” the Comcast rep said in a statement. “Rovi’s attempt to extract these unfounded payments for its aging and increasingly obsolete patent portfolio has failed to date.“

TiVo’s legal action comes after entertainment-tech vendor Rovi (which acquired the DVR company in 2016 and adopted the TiVo name) sued Comcast and its set-top suppliers in April 2016, alleging infringement of 14 patents. In November 2017, the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that Comcast infringed two Rovi patents — with the cable operator prevailing on most of the patents at issue. However, because one of the TiVo patents Comcast was found to have violated covered cloud-based DVR functions, the cable operator disabled that feature for X1 customers. Comcast is appealing the ITC ruling.

Both TiVo and Rovi have long histories of aggressive patent litigation. In addition to the pair of federal lawsuits against Comcast, Tivo said it will file a complaint with the ITC regarding the same patents seeking an exclusion order preventing X1 set-top boxes from being imported into the United States.

“Our goal is for Comcast to renew its long-standing license so it can continue providing its customers the many popular features Rovi invented,” TiVo president and CEO Enrique Rodriguez said in a statement.

In a research note, B. Riley FBR analyst Eric Wold said he views the latest litigation by TiVo positively. “The company is now putting increased pressure on Comcast” to reach a settlement, according to Wold. An initial analysis of the suit indicates the patents cover features that “would be difficult for Comcast to remove from its X1 platform without significantly degrading the offering to its subscribers,” he added.

However, according to Wold, there’s uncertainty in TiVo’s legal case, noting that there’s no guarantee the federal courts or the ITC will find the patents valid or that Comcast infringes them. The analyst maintains a “netural” rating on TiVo with a price target of $18 per share.

The new TiVo lawsuit alleges Comcast’s X1 infringes U.S. Patent Nos. 9,294,799; 9,369,741; 7,827,585; 9,578,363; 9,668,014; 9,621,956; 7,779,011; and 7,937,394. TiVo filed the lawsuits on Jan. 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

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