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Patent Sought for Tri-Format DVD

September 20, 2006|From Reuters

A patent application has been filed for a disc that would play two competing high-definition DVD formats. If successful, the disc could help resolve a battle that has divided Hollywood and confounded consumers.

The patent application was filed by three Warner Bros. employees, two of whom are engineers for the company.

The "multilayer dual optical disk" would have one layer of data in the standard CD or DVD format, a second layer able to play one high-capacity format and a third layer for the competing high-capacity format.

Rival formats Blu-ray, which is backed by Sony Corp., and HD-DVD, supported by Toshiba Corp., both work using a blue-indigo laser beam but are not compatible with each other.

That is forcing consumers to pick one or the other, a situation that analysts predict will stifle growth for the next generation of DVDs that store more information and have better picture quality.

Hollywood studios have been choosing sides, each supporting one of the two formats. Some will produce films in both, in addition to the standard DVD format, but this will increase costs. Electronics retailers also have balked at the situation.

New Scientist magazine reported about the patent application on its website Tuesday.

Warner Bros. executives did not immediately comment.

The studio, owned by Time Warner Inc., will be the first to sell a film in all three formats separately -- the high-definition formats and standard DVD -- on the same day, when it releases "The Lake House," starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, on Tuesday.

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