Comcast says it no longer relies on Rovi for X1 tech

Comcast Xfinity X1 set top box
Comcast's X1 video system. (Comcast)

While Rovi has proven amply determined to make Comcast pay license fees for the technology it uses in its video system, a source close to the cable company told FierceCable the operator has developed most of the tech used in its X1 operating system itself.

The source said that while Comcast once relied on licensed technologies to develop older analog video delivery systems, it now uses its ample research and development resources to cook most of the user experience features in the X1 platform. 

“Comcast engineers independently created our X1 products and services, and through its litigation campaign against Comcast, Rovi seeks to charge Comcast and its customers for technology Rovi didn’t create," Comcast said in a statement on Thursday.  

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Two months after the International Trade Commission (ITC) determined that Comcast violated two Rovi patents to create remote-recording features in X1, the TiVo-owned technology licensing subsidiary filed more lawsuits against the cable company in California and Massachusetts, claiming violations of eight additional patents.

RELATED: TiVo files more patent suits targeting Comcast’s X1 platform

According to the individual close to Comcast, the suits related to the ITC’s ruling that Comcast didn’t in fact violate 12 other patents included in Rovi’s 2016 complaint against Comcast. The cable company source said that the remote DVR feature in X1 was used by less than 1% of Comcast subscribers. And the cable company took the feature down last month, pending an appeal with the ITC. 

Rovi, the source said, has expressed its determination to make Comcast pay technology licensing fees and is seeking greater leverage by filing additional suits relating to additional patents. Rovi Corp., which purchased TiVo Corp. in 2016 for $1.1 billion, rebranding itself as TiVo in the process, holds licenses for more than 5,000 patents and makes the bulk of its revenue from technology licensing. 

Bringing the No. 1 U.S. cable operator to heel may fall in line with its business strategy. In fact, just days after the ITC ruling against Comcast on the two remote-recording patents, TiVo announced a tech licensing deal with Altice USA, which it says is using its technology in its next generation video operating system, Altice One. 

“Through decades-long investment in research and development, Rovi has created innovations that delight consumers in their day-to-day entertainment experience,” said Enrique Rodriguez, president and CEO of TiVo, in a statement. “Our commitment to our customers and stockholders compels us to protect these valuable inventions from unlicensed use. Hundreds of media and entertainment leaders around the world recognize the value of our innovations by selecting our products and services and licensing our intellectual property. Our goal is for Comcast to renew its long-standing license so it can continue providing its customers the many popular features Rovi invented.”