TiVo vs. EchoStar: Boredom in the Courtroom

Includes: DISH, TIVO
by: Dave Zatz

No disrespect to the court, the judges, the attorneys, or anyone else… but, man, was that boring.

Essentially, ~80 of us gathered in the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit for a little over an hour while EchoStar (NASDAQ:DISH) and TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO) provided oral argument in Echo’s appeal of TiVo’s lower court jury win in this ongoing DVR patent dispute. Echo’s position is that there were “claim construction issues” in regards to how three patent elements (2 hardware, 1 software) were presented. A whole lot of discussion (judges and lawyers from both sides) focused on the meaning and implication of the words separate (how, when, and physical versus logcial), source object/collection (in regards to software components), and an (is it both singular and plural).

The three judges posed some interesting questions during the proceedings: Why is the jury’s decision invalid? If the appeals court invalidates some of the claims but not all, do monetary awards and injunction terms change? (TiVo says no, Echo says yes.)

I have no inkling of what the outcome will be… and I suspect the case will be largely decided on the contents of the humongous documents (blue book from Echo, red book from TiVo) rather than these oral arguments, which seemed more about clarification.

So what happens next? Apparently, verdicts are put onto the web when they’re ready with no advance notice - Sadly, there won’t be any courtroom theatrics of thrown DVRs. (I’d come back for that!) Sounds like if the lower court’s ruling is simply affirmed, we should hear something in the next week or so. Otherwise, it could be a few months while the judges mull things over and render their decision.

I had a few requests to report on facial expressions and body language for clues, but the attorneys faced the judges and I’m reluctant to analyze the body language of people I don’t know. Additionally, most of the attorneys were pretty expressionless while mostly writing notes. However, I will tell you that before court was in session I overheard someone say “Knock ‘em dead.” Listening in afterward, it seems like both sides felt positive with their respective showings in the courtroom.

Disclosure: none