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EchoStar stumped in Tivo patent prosecution

Kill or cure four-million DVR boxes

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Time is running short for EchoStar to figure out an acceptable workaround to Tivo's DVR patent.

The satellite provider said in a one-sentence court filing Monday that it's "investigating other potential design-around options, but at this stage, does not know whether a future design-around is even possible."

If the company can't arrive at a solution, Texas District Court is likely to order EchoStar to disable DVR functionality in current and future set-top boxes.

EchoStar originally lost a 2004 patent infringement lawsuit that accused the company of improperly using Tivo's DVR technology that lets users record live television while simultaneously watching another program.

The company attempted to reprogram its set-top-box software to work around the patent while appealing the decision, but earlier this month was found in contempt of court when a judge ruled the effort wasn't enough to avoid an injunction.

EchoStar, which is a spin-off of Dish Network, was also ordered to pay a $103m plus interest penalty on top of $105m awarded in the original judgement.

EchoStar appealed the decision, and was granted a 30-day stay on the order to nix DVR capabilities. It's estimated that Echo would have to kill the tech in some four million boxes if it can't figure out a suitable workaround. ®

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