Dish Network May Turn Off DVRs

Dispute with TiVo might shut down service

Bad news for Dish network DVR owners: your favorite shows could go un-recorded if the company decides to shut down millions of DVRs as part of a patent dispute with TiVo.

Dish Network's CEO told analysts Monday that if the company loses a patent-infringment lawsuit with TiVo, it is prepared to shut down the boxes nationwide. That way it can avoid paying TiVo licensing fees of $2-3 per subscriber.

TiVo sued Dish back in 2004 becuase its boxes use a live-TV pause and rewind functionality that TiVo invented. TiVo says the company must pay to use that technology because it owns the patents on it.

Judges agreed with TiVo in March, and since then Dish has been asking for an appeals court to review the case. So far a reversal isn't looking good.

An estimated 7.3 million DVRs could stop working if Dish decides to turn them off. The company would then have to swap out the boxes with DVRs that use a different technology. It could end up costing Dish $3 billion dollars.

A big price to pay, but well worth it when you want to relax on your couch with a repeat of Family Guy or 30 Rock.

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