EchoStar Communications has been given what amounts to a stay of execution after a federal appeals court temporarily blocked an order that would have forced the US satellite television provider to disable millions of its digital video recorders.
A court ruling in April this year in favour of TiVo, America's leading maker of digital TV recorders (also known as personal video recorders or PVRs), found that EchoStar had wilfully infringed TiVo's patented 'time warp' technology, which allows users to watch one television show while simultaneously recording another.
At the time, TiVo had announced that it intended to "seek a permanent injunction against EchoStar's PVR products" and warned that it would "continue to vigorously defend our intellectual property for the benefit of our licensees and shareholders".
Last week, a federal court in Texas ordered that EchoStar, which boasts 12.5m subscribers to its Dish Networks direct broadcasting satellite offering, halt the sale and use of more than 3m of its PVRs within 30 days.
The company was also ordered to pay TiVo approximately $74m in damages and supplemental damages of around $10.3m. EchoStar's request to stay the injunction pending appeal was denied.
However, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeal in Washington DC has now blocked the injunction for a short period, during which EchoStar can continue to sell its PVRs and existing owners can continue to use them.
In a prepared statement, TiVo said: "We are very pleased by recent developments involving the issuance of a permanent injunction in our patent case against EchoStar".
It continued: "The court of appeal temporarily stayed the district court injunction until it reviews the papers submitted by the parties and decides whether a stay should or should not be in effect for the duration of the appeals process.
"The court stated that the temporary stay is not based on a consideration of the merits of EchoStar's request, and is entered to preserve the status quo while the court considers the parties' papers".
Lovelace Consulting | 23.08.2006