Microsoft sues TiVo in AT&T solidarity play
Patent, patent, who's got the patent?
Microsoft has sued TiVo. Why? Because TiVo sued AT&T. Not to mention some allegations of patent infringement.
Dow Jones reports that Microsoft filed suit against the leading DV recorder manufacturer late Tuesday in the US federal court. Redmond claims that in displaying programming information, TiVo illegally uses technology from Microsoft's Mediaroom.
Microsoft currently licenses Mediaroom to AT&T for its U-Verse TV service, and it appears that Redmond's suit is in support of AT&T's defense against a TiVo-filed patent-infringement lawsuit of last August. Microsoft had asked the court just last Friday for permission to intervene in that case on AT&T's behalf.
In a nutshell, Tivo sued AT&T, alleging that U-Verse infringes three patents for DV recording. Now, Microsoft has sued TiVo, saying that those patents are actually Microsoft technologies from Mediaroom. Simple, eh?
TiVo disagrees. In a statement released Wednesday, the company said: "Microsoft's recent legal actions, including its decision to seek to intervene on behalf of its customer, AT&T, and its recent complaint against TiVo...do not bear on whether the AT&T products and services that are the subject of TiVo's complaint infringe the patents asserted by TiVo."
More simply put: "What the frickin' frick does Microsoft's complaint have to so with our action against AT&T?"
The answer, most likely, is pressure. By stirring up a hornet's nest of legal troubles for TiVo, the far larger Microsoft can work hand-in-hand with the equally titanic AT&T to strong-arm relatively tiny TiVo into a settlement.
We smell a Microsoft/Tivo licensing agreement coming out of all this, with the AT&T/TiVo suit quietly fading away, perhaps with a token settlement payment tossed like a bone to over-matched TiVo. ®
Sueing AT&T IS sueing MS
If you look at the situation with AT&T and MS, you will find that the agreement between the two has MS indemnifying AT&T for any suit growing out of AT&T's use of the MS product (this is a standard license clause - The user if sued will be reimbursed and/or defended by the supplier of the software). Thus MS is actually the one being sued with AT&T being used as a surrogate (who TIVO selected to try to avoid going after the actual claimed infringer - ie: MS).
Tivo took the first shot
"Obviously Microsoft are after some of their technology so they can put it into their crappy media centre."
That explains why they waited until Tivo started a patent spat.
Oh, hold on a second, surely if this was about Microsoft wanting something from Tivo, they wouldn't have waited for Tivo to throw the first stone?
You've obviously never used it
Given a choice between Tivo and Windows Media Centre (or Center), I'll be spending my money on Windows Media Center (and with the imminent release of the Ceton Cable-card tuner, I'll have that choice). There are features of Tivo that are better than the equivalent features in Media Centre, but overall, WMC is a far more flexible solution than Tivo (which is why it's taken this long for CableLabs to allow end users take full advantage of it).
Tivo is suing AT&T for using a technology that Microsoft delivered to AT&T. Microsoft is responding because it's Microsoft's patent that is under attack, not AT&T's.