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Microsoft sues TiVo for infringement – again

The legal battle between Microsoft and TiVo continues to slowly escalate: Microsoft has filed a new patent infringement suit against TiVo, claiming TiVo’s DVRs violate four Microsoft patents related to interactive TV and remote interfaces. The patents date back to the mid-1990s when Microsoft was beginning to experiment with technologies that would ultimately be folded forward into what become Windows Media Center. Microsoft is seeking an injunction barring TiVo from using the technologies as well as damages and court costs. In addition to the infringement suit, Microsoft has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission requesting that TiVo set-top boxes and other products using the allegedly-infringing technologies be barred from import into the United States.

The new suit is an escalation in a long-running feud between TiVo and Microsoft; a year ago, Microsoft sued TiVo claiming the DVR company violated Microsoft patents on secure payments and delivery of online programming. Microsoft’s original suit was largely seen as a response to TiVo’s suit against AT&T’s U-verse technology, which TiVo claims violates important TiVo patents, including the famous “time warp” patent at the heart of TiVo’s infringement victory over EchoStar. Microsoft asked to intervene in that case to challenge the validity of TiVo’s patents; AT&T’s U-verse service is based on Microsoft MediaRoom technology.

According to some sources, AT&T has played hardball with Microsoft over the TiVo suit, insisting that Microsoft pay any fees or damages if U-verse is found to be infringing on TiVo patents. Microsoft’s new suit against TiVo may be a ploy to gain more leverage in the case and push the DVR maker towards settlement talks.

TiVo has declined to comment on the new lawsuit.