Zusha Elinson's amusing sign-of-the-times column, published in today's Recorder, deserves to be spread wide and far. I've been eager for this one since I first began overhearing Elinson dutifully call county fairs and small-town newspapers to track down the gem that is this story: Buying TiVo's Bull. (Free reg. required.) Definitely worth the wait.
Elinson reveals that back in 2006, while TiVo was engaged in life-or-death patent litigation with Dish Networks over its "time warp" DVR patent, the company paid the record-breaking sum of $10,000 to purchase the Grand Champion Steer at Farm City Week in Marshall, Texas. Then the company named the bull "TiVo." Two weeks later, a jury awarded TiVo $74 million in damages.
"It didn't affect the outcome of the case," Sam Baxter, the McKool Smith lawyer who made the purchase on behalf of TiVo, tells Elinson. "Lawyers and facts win cases, and not much else." Baxter also notes that TiVo tactfully waited until after the trial was over to advertise its purchase in the local paper, the Marshall News Messenger.
One jury consultant interviewed for the story agreed but was unimpressed by the tactic: "Buying a cow like that I think is bullshit. I think it's insulting — the idea that people are so simple that something like that will influence the case."
Another little nugget: TiVo isn't the only tech company with significant litigation in the E.D. Tex that has become a real believer in boosting community events in Marshall as well. Elinson notes: "Stagecoach Days — the May celebration of Marshall as a transportation hub featuring the 'Little Mr. & Mrs. Stagecoach Pageant,' a parade and car show — is now known as Samsung Stagecoach Days." Read the full article.
Photo: Flickr / brent_nashville