Comcast® Waiting Patent Decision That May Raise Prices

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Waiting Patent Decision

According to a complaint that was filed with the International Trade Commission, customers of Comcast® Cable might have to pay higher monthly charges if they wish to schedule DVR recordings from their smartphones and tablets. Rovi Corp., which is standard with the latest X1 system from Comcast®, claims that they have the rights to intervene and that they deserves a fee for all the users. Rovi held the patents when they purchased TiVo for 1.1 billion dollars last year.

Both the patents will expire in September next year and Rovi has pushed Comcast Corporation® in ITC and the federal court. ITC has reputation of favoring the patent holders and settling disputes much faster than the federal judges do. Rovi’s CEO previously said that they are hoping to make use of the fast moving process of ITC to force a settlement from Comcast®.

“Clearly, the benefit of the ITC case is that it moves much more quickly, so we would hope that that prompts the other side to potentially want to come back to the table,” Rovi CEO Thomas Carson said.

As per the argument of Rovi before ITC, Comcast® should not be allowed to import the cable boxes used with the X1 system. “Any remedial order would have a significant impact upon consumers due to the manner in which consumers view (set-top boxes) and the behavior of consumers regarding STBs. First, given the number of times a day a typical consumer interacts with an STB, it is impossible to expect that an exclusion order could be entered without serious disruption to consumers,” Comcast® wrote to the ITC.

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Members of the Congress from Pennsylvania, where Comcast® has their headquarters, also shared their worry that a ruling favoring Rovi can negatively affect the 91,000 Comcast® employees and shoot up the prices for the subscribers of cable TV services.

“Limiting Comcast’s ability to provide cable service will harm a major competitor in the cable market and hinder competition. The (ITC judge’s) ordered remedy will likely result in harm to consumers. Comcast’s 22.5 million cable subscribers may be harmed by losing their choice of cable providers. Also, many more consumers may suffer due to a less competitive market, where remaining companies can limit choice and raise prices,” Senator Pat Toomey said to ITC.

Interestingly, the House Judiciary Committee chair, which is also a fellow lawmaker, said that the ITC is just a forum approached by patent holders to pursue weak claims.

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