Cuban, who sold Broadcast.com to Yahoo for $5.7 billion and is now president of HDNet, a provider of high-definition TV programming, rattled off a trio of ideas he said were potentially patentable, though he was not personally inclined to file the applications.
"These are businesses I would be looking at starting and software I would look at writing if I were so inclined," Cuban wrote Sunday in his blog. "Instead, I decided to throw them out--free for all...If I were a patent terrorist like some, I could probably even patent these ideas."
Cuban's ideas--like others that have materialized on his Web log--center around the emerging industry for personal video recorders (PVRs), such as TiVo, and video on demand (VOD). VOD is not as widely available as PVRs are, but the idea has shown some recent signs of life with a deal between TiVo and Netflix, and with the VOD service-- --of Akimbo.
Cuban's first idea is a software program that takes advantage of the time TiVo subscribers spend watching their commercials fast-forward. Where subscribers now sit glued to the blur of fast-forwarding frames, Cuban suggests displaying a static advertisement.
A successful implementation of technology along those lines would come as a balm to broadcast advertisers frightened by the prospect that PVRs are eroding their audience. Already, TiVo hasinteractive advertising features that would help compensate for the fast-forwarding phenomenon.
Cuban's second idea is for software that would let people use the Internet and VOD services to piece together their own TV schedules and share them with friends.
The third idea, following the second, would let people emulate existing cable TV programming.
"Here is the one app that I think could really mess things up," Cuban wrote. "It could really toss a wrench into things...Where the real trouble starts is as more TV shows and movies are available via VOD and the Net, then the programs will also be able to do a cost comparison. Is it cheaper to buy programs on your own and emulate your favorite network or buy the network?"