TiVo Looks to its IP
in Effort to Stay Afloat

IP News and Information

Do you remember TiVo? It was a big sensation when it burst onto the television-recording scene back in 1997. Before TiVo’s existence the only way to really skip commercials was to record your favorite program on a videocassette with a VCR then use your remote to fast-forward through those annoying ads. It was a tedious chore and became very tiresome rather quickly. Then along cam TiVo and it allowed consumers the opportunity to record and fast-forward through their favorite television shows much more efficiently. It even made it possible to record and pause live TV. It seemed that TiVo had the perfect answer to skipping ads and that the company’s road to success would be paved with gold.

The Decline of TiVo

Fast-forward to 2015 and the company is having a tough time staying afloat. So what happened? Because so many content providers quickly came up with similar technologies that offered the same basic features that TiVo offered, for a lot less money, more and more subscribers ditched TiVo for the less expensive packages from the service providers. TiVo recently launched its latest product: Bolt DVR, which allows users to completely skip ads. It’s a nice feature, but it has not helped the company make a big enough splash in the market to help it recover from its hundreds of thousands of lost subscribers. However, because the company lost so many subscribers it turned to its intellectual property to help stay competitive. The strategy has worked. According to some analysts the only reason the company is still going is because of its IP royalties.

A New Source of Revenue

TiVo has turned to licensing and lawsuits in an effort to protect its patents and keep would-be infringers at bay. For example, in 2011, the company was able to settle a case against EchoStar for patents associated with DVR functionality. Because of that victory the company was also able to go after other companies via royalties for countless other cases of intellectual property abuse. This course of action has been very fruitful for TiVo over the years. In fact, since it began the strategy of licensing and litigation, the company has already been able to earn about $1.6 billion in settlements from other companies. TiVo isn’t finished, either. The company is currently going after Samsung after it claims the electronics giant infringed four of its patents, including its “389 Time Warp patent,” arguably it’s most important piece of IP

What Does the Future Hold for TiVo

Whether TiVo is able to win this suit against Samsung remains to be seen, but it has made claims on this same patent before with successful results. However, the real question is what does the future hold for TiVo because its most valuable patent, the Time Warp, is set to run out in 2018. That could leave the company in dire straits. In fact some analysts already expect TiVo to meet its demise in 2019 when its largest revenue stream runs out. For its part, TiVo hopes that it’s newer batch of patents will be able to have as much success as their older ones, but only time will tell if that occurs.