As reported by Gamezone on January 4, a new rumor has surfaced about the development of the next generation Xbox, or Xbox 720 – a clever twist on the current Xbox 360 title, due to a patent recently granted to Microsoft.
United States Patent No. 8,083,593 was issued on December 27, 2011, and describes the implementation of a DVR system allowing for the recording of media, including television programs. The following abstract briefly describes the DVR application as implemented in the new system:
“An integrated gaming and media experience is disclosed, including recording of content on a gaming console. A digital video recorder (DVR) application running alongside a television client component allows users to record media content on the gaming console. The DVR application also integrates itself with the console menu. Once integrated, users can record media content while playing games. Alternatively, users can record content when the gaming console is turned off. The recorded content can include television programming, gaming experience (whether local or online), music, DVDs, and so on. When in the recording state, users can also switch between various other media modes, whether gaming, television, and so on.”
Although the new Xbox 720 sounds pretty cool, this patent gives rise to yet another issue in the current controversy between Microsoft and TiVo regarding digital video recorder (DVR) technology. As you may have heard, Microsoft filed a lawsuit back in January 2011 and in subsequent motions alleged that TiVo violated seven of Microsoft’s patents concerning digital video recording. There is currently, however, a stay on the case due to the court’s having granted TiVo’s request for reexamination of the allegedly infringing patents. See Microsoft Corp. v. Tivo Inc., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52619 (N.D. Cal., May 6, 2011).
What really makes this interesting is that AT&T (one of Microsoft’s major customers) was sued in 2009 for infringing TiVo’s DVR patents 6,233,389, 7,493,015, and 7,529,465 which ultimately resulted in a settlement on January 3, 2012. Forbes reports that TiVo will receive approximately $215 million from AT&T with $51 million up front and recurring quarterly payments until 2018 to cover the rest. To add to the controversy, it has been suggested that Microsoft filed its suit in January 2011 in response to TiVo’s suit against AT&T because AT&T’s technology runs Microsoft’s Mediaroom client software. Thus, it raises the question that since AT&T settled and AT&T’s technology uses Microsoft’s technology, is it still feasible that Microsoft could win its suit against TiVo and be able to defend against TiVo’s counterclaim of patent infringement? Although I have not researched in depth the patents at issue in these cases, the settlement by AT&T, if anything, might shed some light on how Microsoft’s case will unfold once reexamination is complete.
Now back to the important stuff: video games. In light of all this litigation surrounding DVR technology, it seems like the video game community might have to wait even longer than the 2013-2015 projected release date of the Xbox 720 so that Microsoft can incorporate the rumored DVR feature without the risk of impending litigation. If Microsoft ends up winning the suit against TiVo before then, however, I, for one, hope that Microsoft passes some of the winnings on to the consumer in the form of discounted prices for the new system.
Image by Fanchile on Flickr Creative Commons- some rights reserved.