TiVo Gets Favorable Definitional Ruling in Patent Infringement Case vs. AT&T

By Joseph Mandour on October 18, 2011

California Patent InfringementSan Diego – TiVo was recently awarded a favorable definitional ruling in its patent infringement action initially filed in March of 2010 against AT&T. In the infringement action, TiVo alleged that the AT&T uVerse DVR system infringed patents owned by TiVo pertaining to methods for DVR recording. District Court Judge David Folsom recently issued a definitional ruling in which he defined the disputed terms in the TiVo patent in a manner favorable to TiVo.

In the definitional ruling, Judge Folsom agreed to most of TiVo’s proposed definitions for key terms contained in the patent. The ruling in TiVo’s favor may strengthen its case and make it easier for TiVo to prove that AT&T did indeed infringe the patents as defined. As AT&T may have a difficult time defending the action using the unfavorable definitions, they may be forced to negotiate a settlement with TiVo.

To prevail in an action for patent infringement, the plaintiff must show that defendant’s use infringed upon every element of the patent claim or was the functional equivalent of the patent at issue. To prove that every element of a patent claim has been infringed, the terms in the claim are often defined by the court to focus the litigation. Patent holders generally advocate for broader claims or term definitions because it is easier to prove infringement of broad patent claims. Defendants typically seek to narrow the claims in order to show that their invention is distinct from the patented article.

In this case, Judge Folson’s interpretation favored the broader definitions proposed by TiVo over the narrower definitions that AT&T proffered. The decision was widely interpreted as favorable to TiVo and TiVo even received a 6% boost in its stock price the day the of the ruling. TiVo is hopeful that this ruling will be mirrored by Judge Folson in its pending case against Verizon for infringing the same patent.

TiVo and AT&T have been litigation adversaries before. In 2009, TiVo brought a patent infringement action against AT&T for use of its patented “Time Warp” feature. AT&T currently has a high stake in the litigation, as almost five million Americans use a DVR provided by either AT&T or Verizon. Therefore, AT&T may negotiate a license or settlement to avoid losing a major share of the DVR market.

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Posted in: Patent Infringement