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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.

Anne Broache Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Anne Broache
covers Capitol Hill goings-on and technology policy from Washington, D.C.
Anne Broache
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.