August 19, 2006
EchoStar/TiVo Battle in Court

The battle over DVR services continues, as EchoStar and TiVo remain battling in court over the satelitte company's providing DVRs for its Dish Network customers. TiVo, the company that created the DVR craze, is trying to keep its corner on the market as many service providers are beginning to offer the services themselves.

Most controversial of all is the Cablevision plan to offer DVR services on their own server instead of a physical box to be located in the subscriber's home, raising all sorts of other complicated questions about who owns the right for this digital property and where that digital property should be stored. Back in June, I wrote about the Cablevision issue and how complicated these DVR wars have become.

The judge issued yesterday in the DVR case between TiVo and EchoStar that Dish Network could continue offering DVRs for rent to its clients while the trial continues on, although a lower court has already ruled in favor of TiVo, awarding the company damages and forcing the Dish-sponsored DVR off the market for Dish subscribers. The original district judge's decision would see the DVR service shutdown and $89.6 million in damages to be paid to TiVo.

Almost one-third of Dish Network's users have DVRs.

The question at this point is not whether consumers should have DVR services in their hand but rather who has the right to issue them and where that property can rest. The decisions made in this battle over the next year will help shape the industry for the decades to come.