EchoStar Wins 7-Year Battle for DVR Patent

EchoStar has won a U.S. patent that could give Dish Network’s core technology supplier leverage to sign license deals with pay TV distributors and technology vendors that market digital video recorders.

The invention, a DVR that allows subscribers to allocate storage space to individual members of a household, was originally detailed in a patent application that EchoStar filed in July 2009, not long after EchoStar founder Charlie Ergen split EchoStar and Dish into separate publicly traded companies.

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office records show that EchoStar’s application for the patent, titled, “Multi-user recording allocation,” was issued a “final rejection” in July 2015. But EchoStar filed an appeal last October, and the USPTO issued a notice of allowance in December. The patent was published on Tuesday.

Jim Baunach, a patent attorney who represents EchoStar, declined to comment on Wednesday. 

Abstract: Disclosed is an apparatus and method for allocating recordings to multiple users of a receiver. A graphical user interface may be displayed at a receiver and may show a listing of programs that have been recorded from a service provider broadcast or other transmission. An enhanced graphical user interface may include a listing of multiple users, each with separate listing of recordings. The recordings may be stored in a storage device associated with the receiver. A particular recoding may be deleted from the storage device when the recording has been deleted from each user’s list of recordings.

Patent

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Claims: 

1. In a receiver having at least a processor, a signal receiver and an output, a method of recording programs received from a program service transmission, the method comprising: receiving a first input through a signal receiver, the first input including a command to record a program from a program service transmission; receiving a second input through the signal receiver, the second input including a command to at least include the program in a first group of programs, the first group of programs being associated with a first user, the first user being one of a number of users associated with the receiver; in response to the first input, recording the program by a recorder when the program occurs, wherein the program is stored on a storage device as a recorded program; in response to the second input, adding, by a processor, the stored program to a first data set stored in the storage device, the first data set including all programs stored in the storage device that are in the first group, wherein the storage device includes at least a second data set and a third data set, the second data set including all programs stored in the storage device that are in a second group associated with a second user, the second data set not including the stored program, the third data set including all programs stored in the storage device that are in a third group associated with a third user; receiving a third input through the signal receiver, the third input selecting a first selectable icon on a user interface, the first icon being associated with only one user, which is the first user; in response to the third input, outputting a signal comprising the first data set in a data stream for display on an output device, wherein the signal causes the output device to display a listing of the first group of programs; receiving a fourth input from a single user through the signal receiver, the fourth input selecting the first selectable icon and selecting a second selectable icon on the user interface, the second icon being associated with only one user, which is the third user; and in response to the fourth input, outputting a signal comprising data that are common to the first data set and the third data set, in a data stream for display on an output device, wherein the signal causes the output device to display a listing of programs that are in the first group of programs and also in the third group of programs.

2. The method of claim 1, further comprising: outputting a program signal to the output device, the program signal configured to cause the output device to display the stored program; and following a conclusion of the program, deleting the program from the first data set.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein following the operation of deleting the program, no user associated with the receiver has a corresponding group that includes the program, the method further comprising: erasing the program from the storage device.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein the second input includes a command to at least include the program in the third group of programs, the method further comprising: in further response to the second input, adding, by a processor, the stored program to the third data set stored in the storage device.

5. The method of claim 4, further comprising: outputting a program signal to the output device, the program signal configured to cause the output device to display the stored program; and following a conclusion of program, erasing the program from the first data set and the third data set.

6. The method of claim 1, further comprising: in response to receiving the first input, outputting a signal to the output device, the signal configured to cause the output device to display a graphical user interface having at least a selectable icon for the first user and a selectable icon for the second user, wherein a selection of at least one selectable icon causes the recorder to associate the program to a data set associated with a corresponding user.

7. The method of claim 1, further comprising: outputting a program signal to the output device, the program signal configured to cause the output device to display the stored program; and following a conclusion of the program, outputting a graphical user interface signal to the output device, the graphical user interface signal configured to cause the output device to display a graphical user interface that includes a plurality of selectable icons, each of the plurality of selectable icons representing each user that is associated with the receiver, wherein a selection of particular selectable icon associated with a user causes the recorder to delete the program from the group associated with the user.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein at least two recorded programs stored on the storage device are contained in a folder, the method further comprising: receiving a fifth input selecting the folder; wherein the listing of the first group of programs includes only programs that are contained in the folder.

9. In a receiver having at least a processor, a signal receiver and an output, a method of recording programs received from a program service transmission, the method comprising: receiving a first input through the signal receiver, the first input requesting a graphical user interface; in response to the first input, outputting a first graphical user interface signal to an output device, the first graphical user interface signal configured to cause the output device to display a first graphical user interface having at least a selectable icon for a first user and a selectable icon for a second user, the selectable icon for the first user being associated with only one user, which is the first user and the selectable icon for the second user being associated with only one user, which is the second user; receiving a second input from a single user through the signal receiver, the second input selecting both, from the first graphical user interface, the icon for the first user and the icon for the second user; in response to the second input, outputting a program listing signal comprising a data set common to a first data set and a second data set in a data stream for display on the output device, wherein the program listing signal causes the output device to display a listing of programs that are in a first group of programs and also in a second group of programs, the first group of programs being associated with the first user and the second group of programs being associated with the second user, wherein the first data set includes all programs that are in the first group of programs and the second data set includes all programs that are in the second group of programs, and the first data set and the second data set are stored in a storage device; and following the conclusion of the program, outputting a second graphical user interface signal to the output device, the second graphical user interface signal configured to cause the output device to display a second graphical user interface that includes a first selectable icon for the first user and a second selectable icon for the second user, the first user being associated with the first group of programs and the second user being associated with the second group of programs, wherein a selection of one of the first selectable icon or the second selectable icon causes the recorder to delete the program from the associated group of programs.

10. The method of claim 9, further comprising: outputting a program signal to the output device, the program signal configured to cause the output device to display a program stored in the storage device; and following a conclusion of the program deleting the program from the first data set.

11. The method of claim 10, further comprising: following the conclusion of program, deleting the program from the second data set, wherein following the operation of deleting the program, no user associated with the receiver has a corresponding group that includes the program; and deleting the program from the storage device.

12. The method of claim 9, wherein at least two programs stored on the storage device are contained in a folder, the method further comprising: receiving a third input selecting the folder; wherein the listing of programs includes those programs that are contained in the folder and are in the first group of programs and also in the second group of programs.

13. A system for managing programs recorded from a program service transmission, the system comprising: a receiver for receiving a program service transmission, the program service transmission includes a plurality of programs; a storage device interconnected with the receiver, the storage device configured to store programs recorded from the program service transmission as stored programs; a plurality of data structures stored on the storage device, each data structure containing a list of programs stored on the storage device that are associated with a particular user, the plurality of data structures including at least a first data set, the first data set includes all programs stored in the storage device that are in a first group associated with a first user, and a second data set, the second data set includes all programs stored in the storage device that are in a second group associated with a second user; a processor coupled to the storage device, the processor configured to receive an input from a single user; and an output device interconnected with the receiver and configured to display the programs stored in the storage device, wherein the input from the single user being a selection of both a first selectable icon on a graphical user interface and a second selectable icon on the graphical user interface, the first selectable icon associated with only one user, which is the first user and the second selectable icon associated with only one user, which is the second user, and wherein the processor is further configured, upon receiving the input from the user, to cause the output device to display, on the graphical user interface, a listing of programs corresponding to data common to the first data set and the second data set, the listing of programs includes programs that are in the first group and also in the second group.

14. The system of claim 13, wherein the output device is further configured to display a graphical user interface, the graphical user interface comprising a listing of programs that are in a folder and are in the first group of programs and also in the second group of programs.

15. The system of claim 13, wherein if a first program is deleted from each of the plurality of data structures, the first program is erased from the storage device.