I just read with horror (but not, perhaps, surprise) that TiVo won its long-running patent infringement lawsuit against EchoStar. Moreover, the judge issued an injunction that EchoStar would have to disable the infringing features of its customers' systems within 30 days! This is a nightmare scenario.
I have to imagine that EchoStar will manage to negotiate a licensing deal in time, rather than update all its (soon to be ex-) customers' boxes with paperweight functionality.
The functionality that my DishPVR provides is nowhere near as fancy as the real TiVo, and to think that what it does do is patent-worthy in 2006 is laughable. Folks on slashdot pointed out, though, that TiVo built its prototype and filed its patents in 1997, when the A/V capabilities of stock computers were more primitive. Also, supposedly TiVo approached EchoStar to license the technology way back, and left them with a demo unit. The demo unit disappeared, and sometime later Dish came out with their own knock-off.
I guess this is the one major difference between Dish Network and DirecTV; the latter licensed TiVo software from the beginning. (Didn't I read at some point that DirecTV bought Dish, or vice versa?)