TiVo has a license to license

Company hoping to ink deals with cablers

TiVo CEO Tom Rogers said Wednesday that his company plans to step up its effort to license the TiVo DVR brand to cable TV providers once the company ends its legal wranglings with Dish and EchoStar.

TiVo already has collected more than $100 million from Dish-EchoStar in its ongoing patent dispute, but more money could be on the way, and the satellite TV company might be forced to either strike a licensing agreement with TiVo or disable many of its DVRs. A judge is set to consider such measures next month.

Until then, Rogers said, "Pursuing distribution deals right now -- pre-resolution of those issues -- may not make as much sense as waiting until the resolution of those issues."

He added, "I hate to use the word 'leverage,' but we think that the resolution here will be one that will substantially increase the perception of value of our intellectual property."

TiVo already has licensing and distribution agreements with Comcast, DirecTV and Cox, and Wall Street has been wondering when similar arrangements with other providers would be forthcoming.

The CEO stressed that he doesn't want to sue potential partners but prefers to strike deals based on the added value TiVo brings to consumers and providers alike. Rogers even contrasted TiVo with the Gemstar of old, which he criticized for "threatening litigation at every front" in its zeal to strike licensing deals.

But if forced to legally defend its patents with other pay TV providers as it was with Dish-EchoStar, TiVo is "prepared to spend the cash to see things through fruition," Rogers said.

Rogers was speaking at Citigroup's 19th annual Entertainment, Media and Telecommunications Conference in Phoenix, where he touted TiVo's focus on advertising, audience measurement and international businesses as well as its software-licensing initiatives.

Via software and after the Dish-EchoStar resolution, TiVo will be "widely distributed across satellite and cable carriers," the CEO predicted.

His presentation coincided with Wall Street firm Janney Montgomery Scott initiating coverage of TiVo with a "buy" recommendation, partially because of TiVo steering away from its focus on hardware in favor of software.

But, Rogers noted: "We still devote a fair amount of attention to our hardware business. It is still the lead product in that the innovation seems to come from that platform."
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