According to legal industry watchdogs, Hulu LLC has filed a lawsuit against the TiVo Corporation, maker of popular digital video recorder (DVR) technology. The lawsuit involves several highly technical patents related to a technology which generates thumbnail files for recorded video programs through using automatic web searches.
This current legal mess stems back to 2011 when TiVo (then known as Rovi) sued Hulu for patent infringement based on Hulu’s use of a similar technology. That case was settled in 2013 with Hulu signing a licensing agreement to pay TiVo for the use of their patented technology, a move Hulu claims was to avoid spending time and resources on litigation costs. All was settled until March 2017 when TiVo sent Hulu a statement ordering Hulu to renew their 2013 licensing agreement.
Rather than renewing, however, Hulu has responded by saying that the licensing agreement is no longer needed because one of TiVo’s patents has expired, another was found to be unpatentable, and the third, Hulu claims, is no longer used by their streaming services. According to Hulu’s lawsuit, TiVo’s claims are outdated and invalid:
Since the parties signed that agreement, circumstances have changed. TiVo’s failure to recognise the drastic change in circumstances and its apparent breach of the parties’ prior agreement has left Hulu with no choice but to seek relief from this court.
Since TiVo holds many of the patents related to DVRs, most of TiVo’s current revenue (54%) comes from intellectual property licensing agreements. TiVo was one of the first consumer DVRs on the market, but dozens of competitors have sprung up in its place. Hulu and TiVo have not yet issued statements concerning the lawsuit.