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Microsoft Files Case Against TiVo Over Set-Top Boxes

Microsoft Corp., the world’s biggest software maker, filed a U.S. trade complaint seeking to prevent TiVo Inc. from importing television set-top boxes.

The complaint submitted today to the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington accuses TiVo of infringing four patents. Microsoft is asking that TiVo be barred from importing the digital-video recorders, which are primarily made in Mexico and sold in the U.S.

The ITC case opens a new front in a battle that began more than a year ago when Microsoft challenged TiVo patents that were being asserted against AT&T Inc., a customer of the Redmond, Washington-based software maker. A separate lawsuit was filed claiming TiVo infringed seven Microsoft patents. The two sides are in talks to settle the dispute, according to Microsoft.

“We remain open to resolving this situation through an intellectual property licensing agreement, and we look forward to continued negotiations with TiVo,” Kevin Kutz, a Microsoft spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Krista Wierzbicki, a spokeswoman for TiVo, said the Alviso, California-based company has no comment on the dispute.

The four patents in the ITC case relate to program schedules and selection, controlling the interface, and a way to restrict use of the DVR based on the program’s rating. Microsoft said the technology is used in its Mediaroom software that runs on competing set-top boxes including AT&T’s U-Verse service.

2009 Lawsuit

TiVo filed a patent-infringement suit against Dallas-based AT&T in August 2009, and Microsoft was allowed to join the case to argue on behalf of its customer. That case is pending, as is the suit accusing TiVo of infringing seven patents.

The ITC is a quasi-judicial agency that has the power to block imports of products found to infringe U.S. intellectual property rights.

Microsoft said it also filed a civil suit making the same allegations in federal court in Seattle.

The new case is In the Matter of Set-Top Boxes, and Hardware and Software Components Thereof, Complaint No. 2782, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

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