Saturday, November 8, 2008

Innovation in the Network DVR space

By: Alon Cohen

A good friend of mine CEO of Tversity mentioned to me the story about the networked DVR innovation planned by Cablevision and how they were sued based on their press release. For now it seems they won the first battle in this space.

They still promise Network DVR 'Early Next Year, though legal fight against entertainment industry may continue (Thursday Sep 11 2008 by Karl Bode)

“Despite the fact their recent court victory may head to the Supreme Court, Cablevision insists that their network DVR concept should show up sometime early next year. "We won a monumental case and all the things that we thought we could do, the court agreed with, so we're ready to go to market with that product," says Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge….”

Being involved, as a Prior Art witness, in some of the VoIP law suites out there and a consultant on those matters, I can smell the next phase of lawsuits moving to the IPTV/DVR space. Since I still own about 4 shares of VocalTec (NASDAQ: VOCL), from the time I founded the company, I have decided to air this story as potential opportunity for them to maybe monetize the VocalTec Patent I filed 12 years ago, while it still have merits. This is specifically true as the legal reality is that patents become wider and cover more as they grow old.

The patent was filed prior to the launch of the VocalTec iWave product in 1996, just about year after we launched the VocalTec iPhone in Feb 1995.

The patent which I filed is captioned. “System and Method for distributing multi-media presentations in a computer network” US5751968

It discusses system and methods to create an efficient distribution of multimedia content while providing time shifting capabilities as part of the process, both for recorded and live content.

Computer networks, in particular the internet, allowed users (at the time) to download files in order to play them. This was a slow process needless to say. The object of the invention was to provide an improved method for distribution of multimedia presentations of all sorts to users having a display connected to a network. Another objective was to provide the presentations in substantially real time, while enabling a user to selectively display portions of the presentations or re-display them using any desired delay.

In other words what we are now calling a network DVR.

The patent was also filed internationally at EP0850451, WO9712447, US5751968, NZ316616 JP11512893.

Obviously you are welcome to read about this patent or drop me a note and I will be happy to tell you how I envisioned the distribution process and why I thought at the time and still believe that one can build a very nice distribution network using conventional web servers rather than dedicated media servers. In fact the patent even describes the basics of a cashing CDN that drives the content to the edge of the network.

Well Cablevision, if you think I can help, I am here. I do pay you too much in my opinion as it is. Let me know if I can help you reduce my monthly bills in any way.

For the rest of you, if you are interested in this space, enjoy the reading.