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Motorola Mobility Sues TiVo to Challenge Time Warp Patents

Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. filed a lawsuit challenging TiVo Inc.’s “time warp” patents and claiming it owns the rights to digital-video recording technology that was invented first.

The complaint today in federal court in Texarkana, Texas, contends TiVo infringes patents and seeks a ruling that Motorola Mobility customer Verizon Communications Inc.’s set-top boxes don’t use TiVo inventions. TiVo sued Verizon in 2009, claiming the FiOS television service violates its patents.

Motorola Mobility said engineers of its General Instrument unit formed a company called Imedia that developed “fundamental inventions related to digital video recorders” in 1994 and 1995, more than two years before Alviso, California-based TiVo was founded and sought its own patents.

“The TiVo patents disclose and claim the same technology that Imedia engineers invented years before,” Libertyville, Illinois-based Motorola Mobility said in the complaint. “TiVo obtained patents on its DVR product and sued the industry.”

General Instrument, which now owns all Imedia assets, and Motorola Mobility make the set-top boxes for Verizon. Motorola Mobility said Verizon is demanding that Motorola Mobility defend Verizon and be responsible for any losses in the case.

TiVo won a 2004 lawsuit against Dish Network Corp. and is trying to get the Dish DVR service shut down. The issue is before a U.S. appeals court.

TiVo also has sued AT&T Inc. over its U-Verse service. Microsoft Corp., which makes the software for U-Verse, is challenging the patents, and has accused TiVo of violating Microsoft’s inventions.

Michael Boccio, a spokesman for TiVo, said the company had no comment on the complaint.

The new case is Motorola Mobility Inc. v. TiVo Inc., 11cv53, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Texarkana).

To contact the reporter on this story: Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Allan Holmes at aholmes25@bloomberg.net

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