August 23, 2006

Watch out for the googly eyes!

Google apparently has been sending out cease-and-desist letters complaining about the word "google" used as a generic term for searching the Internet (E-Commerce News; ZDNet News). I don't think we really need "google" (or "googling") as a synonym for "search the web," but I'm amused that the word has taken on so quickly.

On the other hand, "tivo" as a generic term for a DVR (and as a verb meaning "to record on a DVR") is a very helpful addition to the English language. I suspect that TiVo Inc.'s anticompetitive behavior (see my previous blog entry) has probably encouraged users to genericize its mark.

August 18, 2006

Don't mess with my tivo (generically speaking)

TiVo, which manufactures digital video recorders (DVRs), is involved in a patent dispute with EchoStar, the owner of Dish Network. TiVo alleges that the generic DVRs offered by Dish to its subscribers infringe upon various patents held by TiVo. A federal court yesterday ordered EchoStar to stop selling the allegedly infringing DVRs. The court also gave EchoStar 30 days to disable both the recording and playback capabilities of most of the Dish DVRs currently in subscribers' homes (about 3 million). The district court refused to stay its order, although the Federal Circuit today stepped in to stay the injunction, at least for the time being.

Details are at and Zatz Not Funny; Patently-O has copies of the district court's order and opinion.

Ordering EchoStar to stop offering DVRs (and worse, to break the ones already in use) is simply going to remove Dish as a viable competitor to DirecTV, Comcast, etc., and drive up programming costs for all consumers. We need more competition in this market, not less, and reducing competition in the programming market is ultimately going to hurt TiVo as well. Instead, why not simply require EchoStar to pass along to TiVo the monthly DVR fees that it collects?