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TiVo for tourists?

The patent-happy maker of digital video recorder technology joins Krispy Kreme and Pez in exhibit of influential everyday inventions.

What do the toothbrush, the elevator and TiVo have in common?

They've all claimed a spot among the nation's most influential inventions in a yearlong exhibit at the newly reopened U.S. Patent and Trademark Office museum in Alexandria, Va.

The exhibit, titled "The Invention Machine: A Day in My Life," presents a 200-year inventory of patented products that "have a real impact on day-to-day life," said Richard Maulsby, director of public affairs for the patent office.

Of TiVo, he admitted with a chuckle, "I don't have that capability myself."

Founded in 1997, Alviso, Calif.-based TiVo has an ever-fattening patent portfolio and more than 3 million subscribers. But this is the first time it has made it to a museum, said James Barton, TiVo's chief technology officer.

The exhibit display, which TiVo developed, showcases the technology in a doll-size diorama of a living room. "Set to upbeat music, a video loop displayed on a TV on the 'living room' wall highlights the benefits of TiVo's Time Warp patent," which allows viewers to store and play back TV shows, according to a statement.

"It gives people a real nice idea of how you match up patentable ideas with their expression in the product," Barton said.