Court awards TiVo $200 million, not $1 billion, in Dish/EchoStar damages

It is no secret that Dish Network and partner EchoStar lost to TiVo in a ruling concerning whether the satellite companies' video recorders infringed on TiVo's patents. What was amazing was the possibility of an unprecedented $1 billion in legal sanctions that TiVo sought against the former sister companies. Today, a US District Court Judge in Eastern Texas did award TiVo a sizable contempt sanction sum of $200 million, which by most rational measures is still huge.

TiVo had requested treble damages -- three times the estimated base value of the infringement -- under the theory that EchoStar and its then-subsidiary Dish willfully infringed upon TiVo's technology. That much was apparently rejected today.

However, the $200 million damages sum will be lumped together with the $104 million principal judgment against TiVo last October, plus attorneys' fees, for a prize package that TiVo this afternoon estimated at around $400 million. That could go higher, TiVo said today, should Dish be unsuccessful on its latest appeal -- it said the court will entertain the notion of "enhanced sanctions," perhaps including interest on unpaid existing sanctions. This for manufacturing and distributing a digital program recorder that the court found infringed upon TiVo's patented "Time Warp" technology.

But the huge ray of hope for Dish -- one which could literally lead to a complete reversal of fortune for it and EchoStar -- still shines brightly this afternoon, even though the US Supreme Court flat-out refused to hear the companies' original appeal. This time, they have new ammunition in their favor: a preliminary rejection of the "Time Warp" patent by the US Patent Office.

Dish Network does not deny it was aware of TiVo's patent from the very beginning; in fact, it continues to contend that its original technology is a "Time Warp" workaround. This despite Dish's promises last year to deploy a different workaround. The key passage from Dish's statement today is this: "While we disagree that any amount of sanctions was warranted, the decision confirms our belief that we designed around TiVo's patent in good faith."

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