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TVi vs Microsoft: What Can YOU Learn?

Posted on Tuesday, Apr 4th 2006

Few months back, I reported on the Microsoft vs TVi patent infringement case over Autoplay.

In October 2005, the case was settled in one of the largest pre-trial settlement that Microsoft has ever concluded.

Terms are confidential, but I will try to benchmark the deal.

Here are some prior cases and their settlement terms: Microsoft has settled antitrust cases with Be Inc., ($23 million), Immersion ($27 million), Intertrust ($440 million), Novell ($536 million), Eolas ($521 million? $640 million? not settled yet?), and Real Networks ($761 million) in the past.

[Note: I am watching, also, the words “pre-trial patent settlement”, because the Eolas case went into trial, and Real Networks was an Anti-Trust case, not Patent. I am not sure, therefore, what the denomination of this settlement is, even range-wise. However …]
The reason I find this deal interesting is that it validates a reasonable way to make money off defending Intellectual Property and innovation, and today, the legal service providers have developed the expertise to defend such cases. In Peter Redford’s Autoplay case, the lawfirm representing TVi was Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. Ron Schutz, Chairman of RKMC’s Intellectual Property practice, led the litigation.

There are mixed feelings out there about companies making money off suing others, rather than building products and businesses. In this case, however, TVi was just about to launch a product based on the Autoplay technology in 1995, when Windows ’95 was released, and No. 3 amongst its top features was Autoplay. TVi’s product roadmap had to undergo a quick cancellation, and a long and tedious battle to fight Microsoft had to be launched.

RKMC took this case as a contingency suit, which is the only way a little company like TVi could afford to go after Microsoft. The actual lawsuit did not get filed until 2002, and the final settlement took 3 more years to come through.

If you want to learn more about the long and winding road that led to this watershed settlement, (especially if you have some fundamental IP to defend yourself) consider attending this event: How to Take On Microsoft and Win where I will be interviewing Peter, and he will be doing a Q&A session with the general audience.

You can also ask questions at the Comments section at this site, and Peter will answer, to the extent possible, and without violating his confidentiality agreement with Microsoft.

ps. If you are looking for examples of companies built with the IP Licensing business model, look up Tessera (Nasdaq: TSRA).

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[…] There has been a number of hot issues lately around patents, lawsuits, rights of inventors versus business builders. TVi vs Microsoft, Netflix vs Blockbuster, RIM vs NTP, eBay vs MercExchange. […]

Sramana Mitra on Strategy » Blog Archive » Invention vs Commercialization Wednesday, April 12, 2006 at 1:42 PM PT

Great job on handling the Q&A with Peter. Very smooth, good questions, and good interaction. This made for a solid and compelling story, as I mentioned–all the ingredients of a David & Goliath classic business story. From the discussions by audience members afterwards, I think everyone at ACG that night appreciated it.

mark ivey Sunday, April 16, 2006 at 1:35 PM PT

Is there anyplace to see/read your interview with Peter Redford?

Jeff Kaplan Wednesday, April 19, 2006 at 11:28 PM PT

Unfortunately not, Jeff. The event may get repeated … and you can ask if Mark Ivey has the notes …

Sramana Mitra Sunday, April 23, 2006 at 1:56 PM PT

Thank you! I will do that.

Jeff Kaplan Tuesday, April 25, 2006 at 5:13 PM PT

[…] Some of you have read my previous coverage of the TVI vs. Microsoft case in which TVI sued Microsoft over the Autoplay patent. Peter Redford, CEO of TVI, won that case earlier this year, and has since joined the Band of Angels, as an Angel investor. The Band is one of the best organized Angel groups in Silicon Valley (the world?) and actively bridges the gap between entrepreneurs and venture capital by seeding deals largely in the 250k-750k range. […]

Sramana Mitra on Strategy » Blog Archive » Investment Thesis: Peter Redford Sunday, October 8, 2006 at 4:07 PM PT