Dish Network has claimed another early court victory for its AutoHop technology, which makes it easy for subscribers to automatically skip over many commercials. But how it will all finally shake out remains unclear.
The Dish win came Wednesday when a federal judge in New York denied ABC's motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the service. But U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain also dismissed Dish's motion to deny CBS' attempt to unwind its retransmission agreement.
Dish's AutoHop allows users to automatically record prime-time programming from broadcast channels and omit the commercials during playback.
CBS, Fox, NBC and ABC,sued Dish in 2012, arguing that AutoHop modifies the network's content in an unauthorized and illegal manner. "We believe this is a clear violation of copyright law and we intend to stop it," CBS said when it filed. It later amended its complaint to add that Dish had deliberately concealed plans to introduce the ad-skipping technology during the companies' 2011 negotiations, meaning the resulting deal should be voided.
In July, Fox lost its appeal of a federal judge's decision refusing to grant an injunction.
Dish's battle with ABC could further escalate at the end of September, when its carriage deal with Disney/ABC TV Group expires. It is expected Disney will use the Hopper as a point of contention during negotiations.