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SonicBlue to hit TiVo with infringement suit

Tue, 12/11/2001 - 7:00pm
Anne Kerven

Glutton-for-litigation SonicBlue fired a shot over TiVo's bow yesterday by launching another highly public battle over intellectual property. SonicBlue's desire to discuss licensing with TiVo yesterday brought a flat no from TiVo, prompting SonicBlue to threaten a patent infringement lawsuit this morning.

SonicBlue already has ReplayTV-related lawsuits pending against it by several large networks.

TiVo yesterday announced two new patents — one for PVR functions and one for home networking. At the same time, SonicBlue issued a statement announcing its plan to "initiate discussion with TiVo to obtain a licensing agreement for SonicBlue's ReplayTV technology," it said then.

It also outlined ReplayTV's features and patents, and said it intended to keep developing and licensing its DVR technology.

TiVo fired off a statement late yesterday that it "refutes false reports concerning its licensing of SonicBlue technology." SonicBlue's statements suggested incorrectly that the two have "been engaged in licensing discussions," it said.

SonicBlue shot back with threats of a lawsuit it says it will file in the Northern District Federal Court "alleging TiVo's infringement of a SonicBlue patent that forms part of SonicBlue's ReplayTV (DVR) intellectual property."

SonicBlue says the lawsuit will demand that TiVo cease producing "infringing products and pay damages on existing products."

TiVo issued a rebutting statement that its patent strategy is to use its IP position to license its technology to its business partners, "proliferating the TiVo platform."

"We're disappointed that SONICblue is opting to use litigation to build visibility for its company, as opposed to constructively working with others in the industry to build its business," the statement continues. "We intend to take appropriate and rational legal steps to protect our technology."

SonicBlue already has lawsuits filed against it by such TV networks as CBS, NBC, Viacom and Walt Disney Co., which had claimed SonicBlue's ReplayTV line and Go Video VCR had features that make copyright infringement easier for consumers. The companies had asked to halt shipment of both, SonicBlue says, but the company late last month announced it would start shipping the ReplayTV line that week, despite the lawsuits. It already was shipping its Go Video, complaints about which were recently dropped by the group.

Neither TiVo nor SonicBlue returned phone calls by CEDaily's deadline.

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