If you are a Comcast customer, you may have used an app that lets you schedule your DVR from your mobile device. The capability to use your phone in that way was the subject of a lawsuit between Comcast and TiVo. It was heard in front of the U.S. International Trade Commission and the ruling issued has important repercussions for intellectual property law.
The dispute arose when TiVo and Comcast could not reach an agreement on the licensing for the technology to remotely schedule DVRs by smartphone. Comcast built that capability into its X1 set-top boxes after licensing it from a company called Rovi. Last year, TiVo acquired Rovi, and did not renew the licensing agreement with Comcast. As a result, Comcast attempted to use the technology without paying for it.
Playing fair with intellectual property
The ITC found in favor of TiVo and banned the import and sale of the devices. This outcome is being touted as a victory for intellectual property law because:
- It protects international companies’ patent rights.
- It forces one of the largest media corporations in America to play fair.
- It sends a message that intellectual property rights are still valued in America.
If Comcast wants its customers to be able to set their DVRs from mobile devices, they will have to agree to TiVo’s terms. The expected price-tag for that is $15 million per quarter.
Intellectual property is still property
The ITC’s decision was simple and it reinforces the basic principle that guides intellectual property law: profiting from the intellectual property of another entity or person, without permission, is a form of theft. It is important to note that intellectual property doesn’t stop at just corporate owned software, it can also be:
- Photos you’ve taken
- Your written work
- Music you’ve composed
Anything you’ve created on your own time, for your own purposes, is your intellectual property. If you believe someone has used your work without your permission, contact a lawyer with experience protecting intellectual property.