Microsoft Corp V/s TiVo, Inc

The present case relates to an infringement petition filed by Microsoft Corp against TiVo, Inc. in California Northern District Court, for infringing its two patents, Patent No. US 6,008,803, (‘803) and Patent No. 6,055,314, (‘314). The case was filed on January 19, 2010. The case is still waiting for its decision and its next hearing is on March 30, 2011. The patents in context relate to an information display, for an user, for purchasing and display of video contents. As TiVo manufactures related products such as, TiVo premiere and TiVo Premiere XL, which are basically set top boxes, the products and its related software are said to be infringing the patents.

‘803 Patent:

In the ’803 patent titled “System for displaying programming information”, Microsoft claims that defendant is infringing ‘803 patent by way of using, selling, offering for sale, and/or importing products, systems and/or processes in US and within the scope of the ‘803 patent. Such infringement products, services and software’s include defendants TiVo Premiere and TiVo Premiere XL.

‘803 claims a method for retrieving and displaying items of electronic information. The electronic information has a list of programs arranged in categories to which they belong. A category display contains an array of related channels and subcategories contain programs related to that channel. Arrangement is made in a panel to display these categories and sub-categories. User can scroll through the panel and select the category of channel that he wishes to access and watch the information about it. User can also select the desired channel based on the obtained information.

‘314 Patent

In the ’314 patent titled “System and method for secure purchase and delivery of video content programs”, Microsoft claims that defendant is infringing ‘314 patent. Such infringement products, services and software’s include defendants set top box products, services and software.

‘314 patent relates to purchase and delivery of video content via internet. The video content is delivered by secured methods and by using cryptographic methods. Decryption capabilities of data are kept with video merchant. When a buyer asks for a particular video, the decryption capabilities of the video program are downloaded to an IC card, further used to authenticate and decrypt the data. The video can be downloaded and distributed to the user. The IC card uses the decryption capabilities to partly decrypt the video content without exposing the capabilities to decrypt it.

Microsoft claims a system for purchasing video content programs including a merchant computing unit at a video merchant and a purchaser integrated circuit (IC) card that compatibly interfaces with the merchant computing unit. The purchaser selects a video content program and the merchant computing unit downloads decryption capabilities unique to the selected video content program to the purchaser IC card for use in decrypting the selected video content program. These decryption capabilities include a program key unique to a related video content program and a policy concerning decryption protocols.

TiVo has products in set top boxes domain such as TiVo Premiere and TiVo Premiere XL. These products are having features such as

ü      program recording,

ü      on demand video store,

ü      HD user interface,

ü      online or mobile scheduling of video recording, among others

As the concerned patents relate to online video requests and program display systems, which map to TiVo’s products, it would be interesting to see how the case proceeds.

IIPRD would, based on its preliminary analysis, soon be coming up with its own claim mapping for one of the patents with respect to one TiVo’s products to render its brief opinion on level of literal infringement.

Author: Nagraj Mannikeri, Patent Consultant

The author can be reached: iiprd@iiprd.com

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