||I've seen it asserted
in various places that most DVRs (Digital Video Recorders) don't
have a more elegant user interfaces and scheduling functionality because
Tivo holds the patents in these areas and would sue any product that imitated these
features. My research at the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office)
reveals that ReplayTV, not Tivo, holds the important patents in this
6,324,388 (entitled Video data recorder with integrated channel
guides) claims most of the user interaction with the DVR that we generally
associate with Tivo.
6,360,053 (entitled Method and
apparatus for fast forwarding and rewinding in a video recording device")
claims a method for fast-forward, rewind, quick-skip forward/backwards.
It also claims a skip "based upon scene change analysis," which is doubtless
the commercial-skipping feature the lawsuits around which drove its original
parent company (Sonic Blue) into bankruptcy.
- Use of a channel guide database for recording based on said user
specified criteria, wherein the selection of shows is based on one of
either pattern matching or fuzzy logic analysis of the user specified criteria and
the channel guide database, and wherein the processor further selects for
removal a previously recorded show having a lower priority
than the selected future shows if insufficient capacity exists for recording the future shows;
- The use of user specified criteria for selecting from one or more of
show names, director names, actor/actress names, show class, keywords, and
- Use of user specified criteria including user provided preference rating
information of previously watched shows.
- And so forth...There are 50
claims in the patent.
Tivo has three
much narrower patents:
- 6,233,389 (entitled
Multimedia time warping system) claims a specific
method for obtaining and storing MPG2 audio/video files so that a user can, among
other things, simultaneously watch another program or live TV (i.e., the "pause live TV"
6,215,526 (Analog video tagging and encoding system) claims a method for embedding data
within a television signal in such a way that it survives analog-to-digital
and digital-to-analog conversion during the transmission process.
Considering the rapid deployment of digital media, the value of this patent
is rapidly decreasing.
Application (i.e., pending, entitled Client-side multimedia content targeting system)
claims the end-to-end features and functions of the TiVo Service.
In addition to the method and apparatus patents described above, TiVo
owns several design patents (design patents are really just super-copyrights) for
design of its remote control, the integrated
Receiver with TiVo. (See design patents D424,061, D431,552, D424,577,