TiVo Smokes Another Peace Pipe


Maybe we can't all just get along, but some grudges are pretty easy to forgive.

Yesterday, TiVo (NAS: TIVO) and Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) smoked the ol' peace pipe. The two companies have been exchanging lawsuits and International Trade Commission complaints since 2010. All of these quibbles are now forgotten, TiVo isn't granting any patent rights to Microsoft, and as far as I can tell, no money changed hands in this settlement. Let's all sing "Kumbaya," shall we?

There wasn't all that much to forgive in this conflict. Microsoft launched its original lawsuit in order to defend business partner AT&T (NYS: T) , whose U-verse television service was under attack from TiVo's legal eagles. TiVo's countersuits were largely designed to keep Mr. Softy off its back, not to extract enormous riches from Redmond.

So now that Ma Bell has squared its accounts with TiVo, there was no reason for Microsoft to spend any more money on lawyers in this case. If the Xbox 360 (or perhaps 720) ever becomes a full-fledged entertainment center with cable signal inputs and TiVo-style DVR functionality, I'd imagine that Microsoft would be happy to license the appropriate patents under a totally separate deal.

TiVo is running out of courtroom distractions. After this low-key settlement and earlier big-money agreements with AT&T and DISH Network (NAS: DISH) , the only case left in the docket is a complaint against Verizon (NYS: VZ) and its FiOS service. Unlike the Microsoft clash, I do expect money to change hands there. And yes, I fully expect TiVo to win (or get a favorable settlement), as any other result would contradict not one, but two solid precedents.

It's no big deal, but this settlement removes one more source of uncertainty for TiVo investors. Shares are rising a modest 1.6% on microscopic pre-market volume as I write this. Now, if TiVo could only get back to investing in its own future by dropping a misplaced cost-cutting plan, we'd be golden.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares of TiVo but holds no other position in any of the companies mentioned. Check out Anders' holdings and bio, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. We have a disclosure policy.We Fools may not all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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