What happened

Shares of TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO) gained 18.3% in January of 2019, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The month started with a favorable decision from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which sent the media-management expert's stock more than 5% higher in a single day. From there, TiVo investors simply followed suit with a generally rising stock market.

Close-up shot of a hand holding a TV remote. A blurry TV screen is seen at a distance.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

On Dec. 31, the USPTO's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board issued a decision on a trademark dispute that TiVo opened in 2016. A decades-old company named Tivoli LLC tried to register electric lighting fixtures under the names TivoBar and TivoTape three years ago, and TiVo immediately opposed that filing because it could confuse consumers into thinking that TiVo had developed or endorsed these lighting products.

Administrative Trademark Judge Frances Wolfson judged in TiVo's favor after a lengthy review, noting that although Tivoli had been using the TivoBar since 2015 and TivoTape since 2010, TiVo's digital video recorders had been a household name for years before those launches.

So TiVo's trademark defense was successful, and Tivoli has to find new names for marketing its lighting fixtures under the banner of a registered trademark.

Check out the latest TiVoearnings call transcript.

Now what

The USPTO decision shows that TiVo's brand name still holds sway even though streaming services have undermined the popularity of DVR boxes in recent years. In support of its case against Tivoli, TiVo cited appearances in mainstream media from 2005 to 2017 and dropped names such as Oprah Winfrey, David Letterman, and Barack Obama. A sizzle reel of video evidence included clips from South Park, American Idol, Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, and The Office, all either using or discussing TiVo boxes in a positive light.

So January's jump makes sense, given the fundamental importance that branding and public recognition play in TiVo's business model. The stock is still trading 24% lower over the last 12 months and 53% lower in three years, so TiVo appreciates every ounce of regulatory help it can get.

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