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Judge stops EchoStar countersuit against TiVo as government reviews patent claims

Judge stops EchoStar countersuit against TiVo as government reviews patent claims

A federal judge has handed the owner of the Dish satellite-TV network another setback in its feud with TiVo Inc., delaying a countersuit against the pioneer in digital video recording technology.U.S. Magistrate Judge Caroline M. Craven of Texarkana blocked EchoStar Communications Corp.'s patent-infringement lawsuit against TiVo and Humax USA Inc. while the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reviews patents claimed by EchoStar.
Craven, who issued the stay last month, made it final when EchoStar declined to appeal, TiVo spokesman Elliot Sloane said Monday.
TiVo's revolutionary digital video recorder, or DVR, technology records TV programs without the hassles of videotape, letting users pause live TV, view instant replays and begin watching programs even before the recording has finished.
TiVo sued EchoStar in 2004, and in April a jury in Marshall found that EchoStar had infringed on a TiVo patent in making its own set-top box with DVR capabilities.
This month, the judge who presided over that trial ordered EchoStar to pay $89.6 million (euro70 million) in damages _ more than the jury had awarded.
The trial judge, David Folsom, also ordered EchoStar to disable more than 3 million of its DVRs that jurors found used elements of TiVo technology, but a federal appeals court this month delayed Folsom's order while the case is appealed.
EchoStar filed its own lawsuit against TiVo in 2005. TiVo issued a statement Monday saying it was pleased with Craven's decision to delay the countersuit while the government reviews EchoStar's patents. TiVo charges that patent officials failed to review older technology that would make EchoStar's patent claims invalid.
The countersuit had been scheduled for trial early next year.
EchoStar spokeswoman Kathie Gonzalez said Monday the company is "anxious to get to trial because we believe Tivo's DVRs infringe on our technology," but acknowledged it will be a long process. In a regulatory filing, the company said the Patent Office review "could take many years."
TiVo, based in Alviso, California, hopes that court victories against EchoStar will give it power to negotiate royalty and license deals with other cable and satellite-TV providers whose customers use DVRs other than TiVo's. Dish is the No. 2 U.S. satellite-TV network behind DirecTV.