|TiVo v. EchoStar: En Banc Summary|
In 2006, a jury found that EchoStar willfully infringed a critical TiVo patent. The federal judge who presided over the trial issued an injunction barring EchoStar from further infringement and requiring disablement of DVRs already placed with EchoStar subscribers. On EchoStar's first appeal, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the jury's verdict with respect to the software claims of the patent, and EchoStar did not challenge the terms of the injunction. EchoStar then claimed, however, that it had created new, non-infringing DVR software (the “work around”), and thus did not need to disable any of its DVRs. In 2009, the trial judge found that EchoStar’s work around was still infringing and had violated the court's injunction. Earlier this year, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals upheld that decision. The case is now pending, at the request of EchoStar, before the full ("en banc") Federal Circuit, where it will be argued on November 9th before all the Federal Circuit judges. As TiVo has argued in its brief to the full court, the case is important to the entire patent system because judges must have the authority to enforce their orders in patent cases. Otherwise, determined infringers will be able to force innovative companies -- and the investors, suppliers, customers, and commercial partners who respect and rely on their patents -- into an endless game of litigation cat-and-mouse.