Microsoft has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission against TiVo, asking for an import ban on the latter's digital video recorders.
Microsoft has filed a trade complaint against TiVo, accusing
the latter of infringing on four patents.
Microsoft is asking the U.S. International Trade Commission
to stop TiVo from importing its digital video recorders (DVRs). "Microsoft
seeks an order excluding TiVo's infringing set-top boxes and associated
software and hardware from entry into the United States," reads
the Jan. 24 complaint
, "and a cease and desist order or orders halting the
domestic sale of infringing, imported set-top boxes and associated software and
The complaint alleges Microsoft's Mediaroom software
platform, which allows "TV and video service providers to deliver enhanced
entertainment content and applications to their subscribers," and is licensed
to companies such as AT&T and its U-verse service, relies on intellectual
property violated by TiVo.
At the same time, however, the two companies are apparently
negotiating common ground. "We remain open to resolving this situation through
an intellectual property licensing agreement, and we look forward to continued
negotiations with TiVo," Kevin Kutz, a Microsoft spokesperson, wrote
in an e-mail to Bloomberg Jan. 24
Microsoft's battles with the DVR manufacturer extend back to
2009, when the company tried to intervene in a lawsuit filed by TiVo against
AT&T. In that instance, Microsoft alleged that seven TiVo patents being
used as a club against the carrier were, in fact, infringing on its own
Various tech companies have a history of relying on the
International Trade Commission-and its
ability to ban imports under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930-as yet another method for battling rivals. In
November 2010, for example, Motorola
Mobility requested that the commission use section 337 to investigate and ban
Microsoft's Xbox from importation. Given how many tech products are
manufactured in other countries, and shipped to the
United States, the ability to ban imports is one with potentially
massive ramifications for the involved companies.
That came amidst an escalating series of legal battles
between Microsoft and Motorola throughout the fall, which entered a new stage
Nov. 10, 2010, when Motorola Mobility filed
patent-infringement complaints against the software maker with the U.S.
District Courts for the Southern District of Florida and the Western District
of Wisconsin. That seemed a response to Microsoft's own Nov. 9, 2010, lawsuit alleging that Motorola had
violated agreements to license at "reasonable rates" Patents related to H.264
video compression and wireless LAN.
Other tech giants resorting to commission
complaints include Nokia, which filed against Apple in December 2009, and
filed against HTC in March 2010