Most people in New York probably never consider that the technology they use each day is the brainchild of someone else. Such ideas do not develop out of thin air. Often the rights to these inventions are owned and patented by individuals or their companies, and other corporations may pay licensing fees to use the technology. Copyright law protects the inventors from those who would illegally profit from their inventions. When a company fails to pay the appropriate licensing fees, the patent holder has the right to seek redress through intellectual property litigation.
Comcast, for example, offers customers the ability to program their DVRs remotely and customize their channel guides. However, these technologies are not owned by Comcast. Instead the giant cable and broadcasting company pays TiVo a licensing fee for permission to use the capabilities. In fact, all of Comcast’s competitors pay the same fee because TiVo owns the patents for the technology.
Recently, however, Comcast stopped paying the fee but continued offering the services to its customers. TiVo, supported by the International Trade Commission, ordered Comcast to pay the fee or to stop importing cable boxes that use TiVo’s patented technology. Comcast argued that disabling the patented features would wrongly deny consumers services they depend on. However, since the ITC ruled against them, Comcast has removed the features from its cable service, to the dismay of its customers. The ITC’s decision supports the foundation of copyright law that allows dissatisfied consumers to look elsewhere for services they desire.
In the same way TiVo fought to protect its rights under copyright law, inventors, artists and other creative people in New York can seek fair compensation for the use of their copyrighted and patent-protected products. This may be possible through negotiations, or it may require intellectual property litigation. While taking someone to court may seem daunting, the help of an experienced attorney can prove invaluable.
Source: The Washington Times, “ITC rebukes Comcast for stealing from TiVo“, Jenny Beth Martin, Dec. 20, 2017