Well, just the 942 I have upstairs and the 721 I have stuffed away in a closet somewhere – and it doesn’t apply to me since I already bought them. But the fallout of the TiVo patent case apparently is that Dish can’t sell those machines anymore.
Of course, they’re not actually selling them anymore, so it’s more of a moral victory there for TiVo, I guess.
The notice Dish put out talks about “updated software” that newer boxes like my 622 have received that allow them to escape this injunction, but I haven’t seen anything that details why that is. From what I understand, the court ruled that TiVo’s “multi-media time-warping system” patent was valid and enforceable, and that Dish’s DVRs violated that patent. Dish refers to “next-generation” software that has been installed that does not infringe the patent, but my 942 sure does work a whole lot like my “next-generation” 622.
If I had to guess – and as a starting point for any IP lawyers who might be hanging around and want to offer an opinion – I’d say it’s because the TiVo patent is tied to “MPEG” encoding and Dish escapes that because their “next generation” boxes use MPEG-2 encoding. I know that the difference between my 942 and my 622 is MPEG-1 vs. MPEG-2 and that the 942 cannot be upgraded to receive MPEG-2, so that’s the basis of my hypothesis here. I don’t think MPEG-2 existed (or at least wasn’t in wide circulation) at the time of TiVo’s patent, so perhaps the court interpreted the reference to MPEG to mean MPEG-1, since that was the standard at the time. Thus, perhaps, TiVo’s patent was not worded well to cover future MPEG versions.
Other than the encoding standard used, my two Dish boxes work almost identically. Search and other software features are pretty much the same and there’s no apparent difference in the user experience. That also makes me think it’s something on the back end. In any case, I cherish my illegal DVRs, and you can have them when you pry them from … well, you know.