MARSHALL, Texas -- A federal jury awarded TiVo Inc. more than $73 million in damages yesterday in a patent-infringement lawsuit against EchoStar Communications Inc.
TiVo had sought $87 million in damages from the Dish satellite-TV network in a patent dispute that TiVo lawyers said could be ''life or death" for the company that sold the first box for digitally pausing and rewinding live television.
Lawyers for EchoStar, Dish's parent, had countered in their closing arguments that the company invented its own digital video recorder without TiVo technology. They said TiVo is using EchoStar as an excuse for its own failure to compete against other makers of set-top boxes. TiVo, based in Alviso, Calif., has lost nearly $650 million in its nine-year history.
TiVo claimed EchoStar violated its patent for a ''multimedia time-warping system" to pause, rewind, or fast-forward live TV programs by recording them on a hard drive. EchoStar's own box ''didn't work. It was a disaster," TiVo lawyer Sam Baxter said.
News of the verdict sent TiVo shares soaring nearly 20 percent, or $1.60, to $9.65 in late-session electronic trading. EchoStar shares dropped 27 cents.
The case was closely watched on Wall Street. Analysts said a win would give TiVo power to negotiate licensing deals with cable operators who use TiVo-like boxes.
Separately, TiVo said Wednesday it has extended an agreement with its largest partner, satellite TV provider DirecTV Group Inc., for three more years.
The $87 million request was based on a financial consultant's estimate of how much TiVo would have earned if EchoStar had not sold more than 4 million of its own recorders using TiVo technology.
''This is life or death for them," Baxter said of TiVo.
EchoStar witnesses said the company's box differs from TiVo's in several ways. EchoStar lawyer Harold McElhinny also blamed TiVo's problems on erratic business decisions and an overpriced product -- EchoStar now gives new customers a free recorder.
The trial featured two weeks of often technical testimony by dueling engineers.