Canadian Patents Database / Patent 2405536 Summary

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(12) Patent Application: (11) CA 2405536
(54) English Title: ONLINE DIGITAL VIDEO SIGNAL TRANSFER APPARATUS AND METHOD
(54) French Title: APPAREIL ET PROCEDE DE TRANSFERT DE SIGNAUX VIDEO NUMERIQUES EN LIGNE
(51) International Patent Classification (IPC):
  • H04N 5/445 (2006.01)
  • G06F 3/00 (2006.01)
  • G06F 13/00 (2006.01)
  • G06F 17/30 (2006.01)
  • G06F 21/00 (2006.01)
  • G06Q 10/00 (2006.01)
  • G06Q 30/00 (2006.01)
  • H04L 29/06 (2006.01)
  • H04N 7/173 (2006.01)
(72) Inventors :
  • SHERR, SCOTT JEFFREY (United States of America)
  • MIRANDA, EVA (United States of America)
  • RUBENSTEIN, IRA STEVEN (United States of America)
  • CAREY, SEAN BRENNAN (United States of America)
  • LANDAU, YAIR (United States of America)
  • FRANK, ANDREW C. (United States of America)
  • LAKAMP, BRIAN DAVID (United States of America)
  • SPAULDING, BRYAN GENTRY (United States of America)
  • EVANS, CHARLES JONATHAN (United States of America)
  • SCHNABEL, EVERTON ANTHONY (United States of America)
  • OCHS, HARTMUT (United States of America)
  • BARNETT, JEREMY ELI (United States of America)
  • PALMER, SETH DAVID (United States of America)
  • HENDERSON, TODD MICHAEL (United States of America)
  • CHONG, WILLIAM W. (United States of America)
  • FOREST, BRUCE (United States of America)
  • KOENIG, STEVEN (United States of America)
  • WIERSHOLM, KARL (United States of America)
(73) Owners :
  • BLOCKBUSTER INC. (United States of America)
(71) Applicants :
  • MOVIELINK, LLC (United States of America)
(74) Agent: BORDEN LADNER GERVAIS LLP
(45) Issued:
(86) PCT Filing Date: 2001-04-05
(87) PCT Publication Date: 2001-10-18
Examination requested: 2006-03-22
(30) Availability of licence: N/A
(30) Language of filing: English

(30) Application Priority Data:
Application No. Country/Territory Date
60/195,870 United States of America 2000-04-07
09/603,805 United States of America 2000-06-26

English Abstract




A method and apparatus (100) for rental of the digital video online providing
access to an online catalog stored within a memory of a network video server
computer (130A-130N). Requests are received from client computers (102A-102N)
for rental of digital video signals selected from the online catalog for a
specified period of time. Once electronic payment from client is provided, the
digital video signal is transmitted to the client computer via communications
link (120). The digital video signal is viewable by a user of the client
computer during the specified period of time.


French Abstract

La présente invention concerne un appareil et un procédé de transfert de signaux vidéo numériques en ligne. La location de signaux vidéo numériques s'effectue dans un environnement en ligne comprenant un ou plusieurs ordinateurs clients et au moins un serveur de réseau connecté par une liaison de communication aux ordinateurs clients. Le procédé consiste à faciliter l'accès à un catalogue en ligne stocké dans la mémoire d'un serveur vidéo du réseau. Le catalogue comprend des informations concernant les signaux vidéo numériques pouvant être loués à partir du serveur du réseau. Des demandes sont alors reçues des ordinateurs clients pour la location de signaux vidéo numériques sélectionnés dans le catalogue en ligne pour une durée spécifique. Les demandes incluent le paiement électronique qui est fonction du signal vidéo numérique sélectionné et de la durée spécifique. Lorsque le paiement électronique a été effectué, le signal vidéo numérique est transmis à l'ordinateur client via une liaison de communication. Une fois transmis, le signal vidéo numérique peut être visualisé par l'utilisateur de l'ordinateur client pendant la durée spécifiée. Les avantages de l'invention incluent la possibilité de louer des films sans avoir à fournir de sommes supplémentaires pour l'achat des films. La présente invention concerne également une interface simulant la véritable location de films dans un magasin de location vidéo. L'utilisateur peut, en outre, visualiser le film autant de fois qu'il le désire pendant la durée spécifique de location, simulant ainsi la véritable location de cassettes vidéo ou de DVDs de longs-métrages.


Note: Claims are shown in the official language in which they were submitted.




CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A method for rental of digital video signals within an online
environment comprising one or more client computers and at least one network
video server computer connected by a communications link to the one or more
client computers, the method comprising:

providing access to an online catalog stored within a memory of a
network server computer, the online catalog including information regarding
digital video signals available for rental from the network server computer;

receiving a request from a client computer for rental of a digital video
signal selected from the online catalog for a specified period of time, the
request
including electronic payment based on the selected digital video signal and
the
specified period of time; and

transmitting the digital video signal to the client computer via a
communications link, such that the digital video signal is viewable by a user
of
the client computer during the specified period of time.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the providing access to the online
catalog further comprises:

viewing the online catalog via a carousel interface, such that information
regarding each digital video signal is presented within one or more
horizontally
rotatable rows.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein the digital video signal is a
digitally encoded motion picture, such that the information regarding each
digitally encoded motion picture appears as a virtual video box including
original box art as appears on a VHS version of the virtual video box, the
viewing the online catalog further comprising:

scrolling rows of virtual box art in a sliding, sideways manner, such that
movie rental from aisles of a video rental store is simulated.

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4. The method of claim 2, wherein the digital video signal is a
digitally encoded motion picture, such that the information regarding each
digitally encoded motion picture appears as a virtual video box including
original box art as appears on a VHS version of the virtual video box, the
viewing the online catalog further comprising:

scrolling a row of virtual box art in a sideways, continuously animated
action and variable speed, such that a carousel or rack of video boxes
rotating
before a user is simulated.

5. The method of claim 2, wherein the digital video signal is a
digitally encoded motion picture, such that the information regarding each
digitally encoded motion picture appears as a virtual video box including
original box art as appears on a VHS version of the virtual video box, the
viewing the online catalog further comprising:

sorting the rows of virtual box art based on sort criteria provided by the
user to a movie search engine of the network video server computer.

6. The method of claim 1, further comprising:

encrypting the digital video signal using an encryption key prior to the
transmitting of the digital video signal to the client computer.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the digital video signal is
encrypted, further comprising:

opening the digital video signal by the user;

redirecting the user to a web site to obtain an unlock encryption key;

enabling the digital video signal for viewing for the specified period
using the unlock encryption key; and

disabling the unlock encryption key once the specified period of time has
expired.

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8. The method of claim 7, wherein the enabling the digital video
signal for viewing, further comprises:

storing a machine ID of the client computer; and

storing a current time in order to initialize the specified period of time,
such that during the specified period of the unlock key utilizes compares a
machine ID of a computer against the stored machine ID in response to user
attempt to replay the digital video signal.

9. The method of claim 7, wherein the specified period is a twenty-
four hour period, such that following the twenty-four hour period, the user is
required to obtain an additional unlock encryption key in order to view the
digital video signal for a further twenty-four hour period.

10. The method of claim 1, further comprising:

dynamically creating a user web page for each user based on information
provided by each user during an initial registration at the network server;
and

dynamically creating a movie web page for one or more of the digital
video signals available for rental from the network server computer.

11. The method of claim 1, further comprising:

providing a user with a listing including one or more unlocked digital
video signals the user has purchased for rental.

12. The method of claim 1, further comprising:

providing a user with a listing including one or more digital video signals
designated by the user as being of interest during a previous visit to the web
site.

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13. An online video signal transfer system for rental of digital video
signals within an online environment comprising a plurality of client
computers
and at least one network server computer connected by a communications link
to the plurality of client computers, the apparatus comprising:

a network server computer including an online catalog stored within a
memory of the network server computer, the online catalog including
information regarding digital video signals available for rental from the
network
server computer;

a plurality of users, each user associated with a particular computer client
computer, each client computer configured to allow a user to request a digital
video signal from the online catalog for rental of the digital video signal
for a
specified period of time, the request including electronic payment based on
the
selected digital video signal and the specified period of time; and

an online procedure for having a capability to receive the request and
transmit the digital video signal to the client computer via a communications
link, such that the digital video signal is viewable by the user of the client
computer during the specified period of time.

14. The online video signal transfer system of claim 13, wherein the
network server computer further comprises:

a carousel interface configured to allow users to view the online catalog
via, such that information regarding each digital video signal is presented
within one or more horizontally rotatable rows.

15. The online video signal transfer system of claim 13, wherein the
network server computer further comprises:

a web page creation procedure having a capability to dynamically
generate a user web page for each user based on information provided by each
user during an initial registration at the network server, and dynamically

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generate a movie web page for one or more of the digital video signals
available
for rental from the network server computer.

16. The online video signal transfer system of claim 13, wherein the
network server computer further comprises:

a digital video encryption procedure having a capability to encrypt each
digital video signal available for rental from the network server computer
using
an encryption key; and

a digital video de-encryption procedure having a capability to provide a
user with an unlock encryption key in response to the users attempt to view
the
digital video signal at the client computer, such that the unlock encryption
key
enables viewing of the digital video signal for the specified period requested
by
the user.

17. A computer readable storage medium that directs a computer to
function in a specified manner, comprising:

an online catalog stored within a memory of a network server computer,
the online catalog including information regarding digital video signals
available for rental from the network server computer;

a plurality of users, each user associated with a particular computer client
computer, each client computer configured to allow a user to request a digital
video signal from the online catalog via a communications link for rental of
the
digital video signal for a specified period of time, the request including
electronic payment based on the selected digital video signal and the
specified
period of time; and

an online procedure for having a capability to receive the request and
transmit the digital video signal to the client computer via the
communications
link, such that the digital video signal is viewable by the user of the client
computer during the specified period of time.

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18. The apparatus of claim 17, further comprising:

a carousel interface procedure having the capability to allow users to
view the online catalog via, such that information regarding each digital
video
signal is presented within one or more horizontally rotatable rows.

19. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein the digital video signal is a
digitally encoded motion picture, such that the information regarding each
digitally encoded motion picture appears as a virtual video box including
original box art as appears on a VHS version of the virtual video box, the
carousel interface procedure further comprising:

scrolling rows of virtual box art in a sliding, sideways manner, such that
movie rental from aisles of a video rental store is simulated.

20. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein the digital video signal is a
digitally encoded motion picture, such that the information regarding each
digitally encoded motion picture appears as a virtual video box including
original box art as appears on a VHS version of the virtual video box, the
carousel interface procedure further comprising:

scrolling a row of virtual box art in a sideways, continuously animated
action and variable speed, such that a carousel or rack of video boxes
rotating
before a user is simulated.

21. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein the digital video signal is a
digitally encoded motion picture, such that the information regarding each
digitally encoded motion picture appears as a virtual video box including
original box art as appears on a VHS version of the virtual video box, the
carousel interface procedure further comprising:

sorting the rows of virtual box art based on sort criteria provided by the
user to a movie search engine of the network video server computer.

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22. The apparatus of claim 17, further comprising:

a web page creation procedure having a capability to dynamically
generate a user web page for each user based on information provided by each
user during an initial registration at the network server, and dynamically
generate a movie web page for one or more of the digital video signals
available
for rental from the network server computer.

23. The apparatus of claim 17, further comprising:

a digital video encryption procedure having a capability to encrypt each
digital video signal available for rental from the network server computer
using
an encryption key; and

a digital video de-encryption procedure having a capability to provide a
user with an unlock encryption key in response to the users attempt to view
the
digital video signal at the client computer, such that the unlock encryption
key
enables viewing of the digital video signal for the specified period requested
by
the user.

24. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein digital video de-encryption
procedure further comprises:

opening the digital video signal by the user;

redirecting the user to a web site to obtain an unlock encryption key;

enabling the digital video signal for viewing for the specified period
using the unlock encryption key; and

disabling the unlock encryption key once the specified period has
expired.

25. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein the specified period is a
twenty-four hour period, such that following the twenty-four hour period, the
user is required to obtain an additional unlock encryption key in order to
view
the digital video signal for a further twenty-four hour period.

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Note: Descriptions are shown in the official language in which they were submitted.


CA 02405536 2002-10-03
WO 01/77778 PCT/USO1/11050
ONLINE DIGITAL VIDEO SIGNAL TRANSFER APPARATUS AND METHOD
REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application claims priority to Provisional Application No. 60/195,870,
filed
April 7, 2000, which is hereby incorporated by reference.
COPYRIGHT NOTICE
Contained herein is material that is subject to copyright protection. The
copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction of the patent
disclosure
by any person as it appears in the Patent and Trademarlc Office patent files
or records,
but otherwise reserves all rights to the copyright whatsoever.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The invention relates generally to the field of electronic commerce. More
particularly, the invention relates to an online digital video signal transfer
method and apparatus enabling online rental of digitally encoded motion
pictures.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The Internet has provided consumers with a new medium for commerce,
commonly referred to as electronic conunerce (or Ecommerce). Currently there
exists several Internet services that provide consumers with access to motion
pictures that can be ordered and downloaded online.
U.S. Patent No. 5,966,400, assigned to Sight Sound Incorporated, describes
a system and method for transmitting desired digital video signals or digital
audio signals. The patent describes a method for transferring desired digital
video or audio signals through telecommunication lines between a first memory
of a first party and a second memory of a second party. Once the connection is
formed between the first party and the second party, the first party
electronically
sells the digital video or digital audio signal to the second party. Once the
sale is
complete, the desired digital video or digital audio signal is transferred
from the
first memory of the first party to the second memory of the second party.
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Assuming a user has downloaded a motion picture in the form of a digital video
signal, the user can now freely view the motion picture on lvs or her home
computer as many times as desired. However, for individuals that do not wish
to purchase a motion picture, video-on-demand provides another option.
Tranz-Send Business Network is a further online provider of video-on-
demand (VOD) motion pictures. Tranz-Send Business Network (TSBN) has
created a complete end-to-end web based video-on-demand solution that
delivers a full screen broadcast quality electronic content to the end user on
demand. However, a user has relatively little control over VOD movies such as
pause and rewind features. In addition, a fee is required each time the user
desires to view the movie once the broadcast is complete.
Consequently, neither Sight Sound Inc. nor TSBN provides users with the
capability for online rental of motion pictures for a fixed period, such that
during the fixed period the user is allowed to replay the motion picture as
many
times as desired. Moreover, neither Sight Sound nor TSBN provide an interface
that simulates the rental of motion pictures from racks of aisles within a
video
rental store.
Therefore, there remains a need to overcome the limitations on the above
described existing art which is satisfied by the inventive structure and
method
described hereinafter.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention overcomes the problems in the existing art
described above by providing an online digital video signal transfer apparatus
and method. Rental of the digital video signals occurs within an online
environment including one or more client computers and at least one network
server connected by a communications link to the one or more client computers.
The method includes providing access to an online catalog stored within a
memory of a network video server computer. The online catalog includes
information regarding digital video signals available for rental from the
network
server computer. Requests are then received from client computers for rental
of
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digital video signals selected from the online catalog for a specified period
of
time. The requests include electronic payment based on the selected digital
video signal and the specified period of time. Once electronic payment is
provided, the digital video signal is transmitted to the client computer via
communications link. Once transmitted, the digital video signal is viewable by
a
user of the client computer during the specified period of time.
Advantages of the invention include the ability to rent motion pictures
without
having to provide additional movies for purchase of the motion pictures. In
addition, the
present invention provides an interface, which simulates the actual rental of
motion
pictures within a video rental store. Moreover, during the specified period of
rental, the
user is allowed to view the motion picture as many times as desired, thereby
simulating
the actual rental of feature length motion pictures.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The present invention is illustrated by way of example, and not by way of
limitation, in the figures of the accompanying drawings and in which:
Fig. 1 is a simplified view of an exemplary client-server environment in
which the present invention may be implemented.
Fig. 2 depicts an exemplary high-level system architecture
implementation of the present invention.
Fig. 3 is a block diagram of the client computer and the network video
server as shown in Fig. 2.
Figs. 4-8 depict exemplary online video transfer site screens that enable
online rental of digital video signals according to one embodiment of the
present
invention.
Figs. 9-11 are flow diagrams illustrating online rental of digital video
signals
according exemplary embodiments of the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION
The present invention overcomes the problems in the existing art
described above by pr oviding an online digital video signal transfer
apparatus
and method, thereby enabling online rental of digitally encoded motion
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pictures. In the following description, for the purposes of explanation,
numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough
understanding of the present invention. It will be apparent, however, to one
skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without some of
these specific details. In other instances, well-known structures and devices
are
shown in block diagram form.
A movie transfer apparatus and method for providing data stored on a
computer system to a user across a network connection are described in the
following disclosure. The transfer can be accomplished in various ways,
including, but not limited to, download, streaming, or a combination, across
various types of connections, including, but not limited to, the Internet,
private
or public networks, direct wire or fiber connections, wireless connections,
broadcast systems (e.g., cable systems, satellite systems, broadcast
television
system, broadcast digital television systems) or a combination of connections.
The present disclosure also describes many aspects of handling
electronic files. For clarity, the description focuses on implementations for
digital video signals which include digitally encoded movies (referred to as
"movies"), rather than repeatedly enumerating variations. However, many or
all of the methods and apparatus described can be readily adapted to apply to
electronic files of other types as well, such as digitally encoded songs,
books,
television programming, radio programming, and any other content (audio,
video, text, etc.) which can be digitized or encoded and stored as an
electronic
file.
Similarly, the description focuses on implementations for a network
video server computer system accessible through the World Wide Web and the
Internet as a website (referred to as the "MovieFly website"). However, many
or
all of the methods and apparatus described can be readily adapted to other
data
connections as well, including, but not limited to, other Internet connection
interfaces (e.g., an FTP server), private networks (e.g., a network provided
by an
ISP for its subscribers), and direct connections (such as a directly wired set
of
stations in a limited area such as a hotel).
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In addition, the description focuses on implementations where the user
accesses and downloads electronic files using a computer system. However,
many or all of the methods and apparatus described can be readily adapted to
other devices which the user can use to access and download data from the
server as well, such as a television with a coxulected cable modem and hard
disk,
or some other device with a network corulection which can access the server
and
a storage device for storing a downloaded file. Additional variations can also
be
implemented such as interfaces for wireless, set-top-boxes (STBs), PDAs,
AVHDD devices (such as a SONY "Tivo" device).
Any necessary adaptations will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in
the art. The movie transfer system can be implemented in hardware, software,
or a combination of both.
In addition, as will be described in greater detail below, the present
invention includes features that seek to simulate the traditional rental of
motion
pictures from a video rental store. According to one embodiment, rental of the
digital video signals occurs within an online environment including a
plurality
of client computers and at least one network server connected by a
communications link to the plurality of client computers. The method includes
providing access to an online catalog stored within a memory of a network
video server computer. The online catalog includes information regarding
digital video signals available for r ental from the network server computer.
Requests are then received from client computers for rental of digital video
signals selected from the online catalog for a specified period of time. The
requests include electronic payment based on the selected digital video signal
and the specified period of time. Once electronic payment is provided, the
digital video signal is transmitted to the client computer via communications
link. Once transmitted, the digital video signal is viewable by a user of the
client
computer during the specified period of time.
In the preferred embodiment, the steps of the present invention are
embodied in machine-executable instructions. The instructions can be used to
cause a general-purpose or special-purpose processor that is programmed with
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the instructions to perform the steps of the present invention. Alternatively,
the
steps of the present invention might be performed by specific hardware
components that contain hardwired logic for performing the steps, or by any
combination of programmed computer components and custom hardware
S components.
The present invention may be provided as a computer program product
which may include a machine-readable medium having stored thereon
instructions which may be used to program a computer (or other electronic
devices) to perform a process according to the present invention. The machine-
readable medium may include, but is not limited to, floppy diskettes, optical
disks, CD-ROMs, and magneto-optical disks, ROMs, RAMS, EPROMs,
EEPROMs, magnet or optical cards, flash memory, or other type of media /
machine-readable medium suitable for storing electronic instructions.
Moreover, the present invention may also be downloaded as a computer
program product, wherein the program may be transferred from a remote
computer (e.g., a server) to a requesting computer (e.g., a client) by way of
data
signals embodied in a carrier wave or other propagation medium via a
communication link (e.g., a modem or network connection).
System Architecture
Fig.1 is a simplified view of an exemplary client-server environment 100,
such as the World Wide Web (the Web), in which the online digital video
transfer method and apparatus may be implemented. The architecture of the
Web follows a conventional client-server model. The terms "client" and
"server" are used to refer to a computer's general role as a requester of data
(the
client) or provider of data (the server). Web clients 102 (102A, ... ,102N)
and
Web servers 130 (130A, ... 130N) communicate using a protocol such as
HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP). In the Web environment, Web browsers
reside on clients and render Web documents (pages) served by the Web servers.
The client-server model is used to communicate information between clients 102
and servers 130. Web servers 130 are coupled to a network 120, for example the
Internet, and respond to document requests and/or other queries from Web
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clients. When a user selects a document by submitting its Uniform Resource
Locator (URL), a Web browser, such as Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer,
opens a connection to a server 130 and initiates a request (e.g., an HTTP get)
for
the document. The server 130 delivers the requested document, typically in the
form of a text document coded in a standard markup language such as
HyperText Markup Language (HTML) or Dynamic HTML (DHTML)
In accordance with the client server environment depicted in Fig.1, an
online digital video signal transfer apparatus 110 may be implemented in
online
environment according to a first embodiment of the present invention as
depicted in Fig. 2. The online environment includes one or more client
computers 102 (102A, ...,102N) and at least one network server computer 130
connected by a communications link 120 to the plurality of client computers
102.
The communications link 120 generally refers to any type of wire or wireless
link
between computers such as, but not limited to a local area network, a wide
area
network, or a combination of networks. In a preferred embodiment of the
present invention the communications link can be a network such as the
Internet.
A client computer 102 can be any type of computing device such as but
not limited to desktop computers, workstations, laptops and/ or mainfra~.ne
computers. One or more users not shown can be associated with each client
computer 102.
Fig. 3 illustrates the client computer 102 which includes a CPU 104, a user
interface 106, a memory 108 and a communications interface 112. The
communications interface 112 is used to communicate with a network video
server computer 130 as well as other system resources not shown. The
communications interface provides a network connection that is preferably a
high speed or broadbrand data corulection, such as a connection providing a
data rate of one megabit per second (mbps) or more. The memory 108 of the
client computer 102 may be implemented as RAM (random access memory) or a
combination of RAM and non-volatile memory such as magnetic disk storage.


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The memory 108 preferably contains magnetic disk storage with at least one
gigabyte of free space. The memory 108 can contain the following:
~ an operating system 114;
Internet access procedures 116 including a Web-browser such as, for
example, Internet Explore Version 4.0 or greater;
video media procedures 118;
~ as well as other procedures and files.
Fig. 3 also illustrates the network video server computer 130 which
includes a central processing unit (CPU) 132, a user interface 134, a memory
136,
and a communications interface 138. The network video server computer 130
can be any type of computing device such as but not limited to desktop
computers, work stations, laptops, and/ or main frame computers. The
communications interface 138 is used to communicate with the client
computers 102 as ~,vell as other system resources not shown.
The memory 136 of the network video server computer 130 may be
implemented as RAM (random access memory) or a combination of RAM and
non-volatile memory such as magnetic disk storage. Memory 118 can contain
the following:
~ an operating system 140;
~ Internet access procedures 142;
~ web server procedures 144;
~ web page creation procedures 146 that dynamically generate user web
pages for registered users as well as movie web pages for one or more
of the digital video signals available for rental from the network video
server computer 130;
~ content preparation procedures 148, for encoding and encrypting
original motion pictures;
~ video delivery procedures 150 for downloading digital video signals
from the network video server computer 130 to the user
computers 102;
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~ rental procedures 152 for providing unlock encryption keys enabling
viewing of downloaded digital video signals for a specified period of
time;
~ price calculation procedures 154 for calculating and receiving
electronic payment from users for a selected digital video signal;
~ user interface procedures 156 providing access to online catalog
information regarding digital video signals available for rental from
the network video server computer 130 including a movie search
engine;
~ a content database 158 for storage of encoded and encrypted digital
video signals available for download;
~ a catalog database 160 including information regarding digital video
signals available for rental from the network video server
computer 130;
~ a transaction database 162 for storage of information regarding user
information as well as transaction information;
~ back end service procedures 164;
~ Intranet access procedures 166; and
~ Other procedures and data structures.
Exemplary Online Video Transfer Site Interface
Fig. 4 depicts an exemplary online video transfer site screen that allows
online users to rent digital video signals from the network video server
computer 130. According to one embodiment, when a user wishes to participate
in online rental of digital video signals, for example digitally encoded
movies,
the online user enters a MbvieFly site and is presented with the MovieFly home
page screen (movie home page) 200. The movie home page 200 provides access
to online catalog information regarding various digital video signals
available
for rental from the network video server computer 130 (e.g., text which is
also
printed on a video cassette box for the movie, reviews of the movie, or
comments from other users). The movie home page 200 also plays a trailer 202
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of a featured selection 204 and includes additional information such as the
coming soon area 206, listing of the top five rentals 20~ in clips and stills
of
various digital video signals available for rental. From the movie home
page 200, the online user is forwarded to various screens that allow the user
to
search and view various digital signals available for rental as well as the
capability to download digital video signals for viewing on the user
computer 102 at a later time.
As indicated above, the MovieFly home page 200 is the first page
presented to a user upon entry into the MovieFly website. The home page 200
presents the trailer 202 from a movie selected by the MovieFly website. The
trailer 202 begins playing (i.e., the video sequence begins) when the home
page
is accessed. The home page 200 also presents several movies to the user, such
as
by displaying an image and title for each movie, or by displaying an image of
the front of a video cassette box for the movie. The home page 200 can also
provide categories of information to the user, such as special or featured
movies
or a top 10 list of movies. The content of the movie home page 200 or other
pages can be customized to the user. The user can enter into a commercial
transaction to purchase a license for rental of the movie, such as by clicking
on a
video box or selecting a command.
The user can also access additional information about a movie through
the video box, such as by mouse-clicking on the box or by selecting a
corrunand
from a menu. The MovieFly website provides a distinction between selecting a
movie for a commercial transaction and for accessing additional information,
such as by right-click versus left-click or distinct menu commands. Upon
accessing additional information for a movie, the movie website begins playing
the trailer for or a clip from the movie. Examples of additional information
available include images and audio from the movie, images and text from the
video cassette box, reviews of the movie (e.g., by staff of the movie website,
by
third parties, by users of the movie website), or other links to websites
related to
the movie (e.g., a page in a movie index website, the official website for the
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movie sponsored by the owner of the movie, or the official website for the
soundtrack of the movie).
A user can register with the Movie Fly website through the movie home
page 200. Registration provides the user with enhanced access to the services
of
the MovieFly website, such as purchases. Additional services include the open
order ticket and the MyList features. The open order ticket provides a user
with
a listing including one or more digital video signals the user has purchased
for
rental but has not yet unlocked for view. While the MyList feature provides
the
user with a listing including one or more digital video signals designated by
the
user as being of interest during a previous visit to the web site.
Registration also
provides a basis for customization of services to the user. Registration can
provide to the movie website demographic and marketing information, as well
as a basis for tracking user activity.
A categories page as described in further detail below, can be accessed
from the movie home page. The categories page provides access to all the
movies available on the server. The movies can be organized in various
manners, such as by title, genre, license cost, or download time. The movies
can
be displayed in various ways as well, such as in text lists, image lists,
video box
lists, grids, or stacks. One manner of displaying movies is in a horizontal
row of
video boxes, which can be caused to slide to the left or right, simulating the
action of a carousel. A user can interact with the movies presented on the
browse page in the same way as those movies presented on the home page.
A search page can also be accessed from the movie home page 200. A
user can search within the available movies of the MovieFly website according
to various criteria, such as title, actor, director, producer, date, genre,
license
cost, or download time. The results of the search can be presented in various
formats as well, similar to the movies presented on the browse page. Again, a
user can interact with the movies presented on the search page in the same way
as those movies presented on the home page.
The MovieFly website can also provide movie pages. A movie page is a
web page serving as an access point to information about a movie. A movie
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page can include various information and functions, such as commercial
transaction requests, or the additional information described above. A movie
page can be accessed by selecting a movie and requesting the movie home page
for the movie. The movie page presentation can provide a more consolidated
and discrete presentation of information, rather than large amounts of
information for multiple movies on a single page.
As described herein, a trailer refers to a clip (video segment) or collection
of clips from a movie played when a user enters the MovieFly website or
selects
a movie in the MovieFly website. As described herein, virtual video boxes
refers
to a collection of images from a video cassette box forming an online
graphical
representation of virtual box of a video box. The image can be a direct image
of
the art and text on the physical box used for home video release, or can be a
special online version. The carousel interface provides multiple virtual boxes
or
images presented in one or more rows which can be moved by the user. The
I S boxes slide sideways with a continuously animated action and variable
speed to
simulate a rack or carousel being rotated before the user, including a
continued
rotation (or momentum) prior to coming to a complete stop. Alternatively,
rotation of the multiple rows of boxes provides a user with a simulation of
walking along racks of VHS video boxes along aisles within a video rental
store.
Fig. 5 is a further exemplary online video transfer site screen that allows
online users to participate in online rental of digital video signals.
According to
one embodiment, when an online user makes a request the search and browse
digital video signals available for ovine rental category interface screen 240
is
presented. In accordance with one embodiment, the digital video signals are
digitally encoded motion pictures such that information regarding each
digitally
encoded motion picture appears as a virtual video box including original box
art
as appears on a VHS version of the video box. Using the user interface
procedures 156, the category interface screen 240 enables viewing of online
category information stored in the catalog database 160. The category
interface
screen 240 enables scro11ii1g rows of virtual box art one at a time or in a
group
within the carousel interface 242, such that movie rental from carousel of
movies
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or from aisles of a video rental store is simulated. In addition, rows of
virtual
box art may be sorted based on sort criteria provided by the user to a movie
search engine of the network server video computer 130. Advantageously, in
this manner, the category interface scr een 240 simulates movie rentals from
racks of aisles within a video rental store.
Fig. 6 is a further exemplary online video transfer site screen that allows
online users to participate in online rental of digital video signals.
According to
this embodiment, when an online user selects a digital video signal for
rental,
checkout screen 260 is presented. Using the price calculation procedures 154,
the checkout screen 260 calculates and receives electronic payment from the
user
for the selected digital video signal thereby granting the user a license to
view
the selected digital video signal for a specified period of time. The checkout
screen 260 provides an interface for a commercial transaction, such as a form
to
be completed or queries to the user for credit card information and
confirmation
of billing to the user s credit card. The specified period of time is
preferably a
twenty-four hour period, which commences once the digital video signal is
unlocked as further described below. Alternatively, the specified period of
time
may commence once downloading of the digital video signal is complete.
Once electronic payment is received, download screen 280 is presented as
depicted in Fig. 7. The download screen provides users with the information
regarding the file name and storage location for the downloaded digital video
signal including the file size and duration time of the download. Using the
video delivery procedures 150, the network video server computer 130
downloads an encrypted version of the digital video signal to the user
computer 102. Once the user leas downloaded the selected digital video signal,
the user may view the selected digital video signal using the video media
procedures 118, such as a Windows media player (movie player software 118).
The movie player software 118 contacts the network video server computer 130
to verify that the user has a proper license for the selected digital video
signal at
which time an unlock screen 300 is presented as depicted in Fig. 8. In one
embodiment, the unlock screen offers an online user the following options: (1)
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download an unlock encryption key; (2) unlock the digital video signal to
enable
viewing; and (3) renew an expired unlock encryption key. The unlock
screen 300 provides an unlock encryption key enabling the movie player
software 118 application to play the selected digital video signal during the
specified period of time. The user can control playback similar to a VCR or
DVD
player utilizing pause, rewind, as well as other commands.
Operation
Referring now to Fig. 9, a method 400 is depicted for rental of digital
video signals within an online environment, for example, in the online digital
video signal transfer apparatus 110 as depicted in Fig.1. At step 402, access
is
provided to an online catalog stored within a memory of a network video server
computer 130 such as for example, the catalog database 160. The online catalog
includes information regarding digital video signals available for rental from
the
network video server computer 130. At step 412, a request is received from a
client computer 102 for rental of a digital video signal selected from the
online
catalog for a specified period of time. The request generally includes
electronic
payment based on the selected digital video signal and the specified period of
time. Finally, at step 424, the digital video sig~.lal is transmitted to the
client
computer 102 via communications link 120. The digital video signal, once
downloaded, is viewable by a user of the client computer during the specified
period of time which begins once the digital video signal is unlocked as
described below. Once the specified period of time is expired, the user must
request and make further payments for viewing of the digital video signal for
additional specified periods of time.
Fig.10 depicts additional method steps 404 for providing access to online
catalog information stored within the catalog database 160 of step 402, for
example, in the category interface screen 240 as depicted in Fig. 5. At step
404,
the online catalog is viewed via carousel interface 242 such that information
regarding each digital video signal is presented within one or more vertically
rotatable rows. In accordance with a further embodiment, the digital video
signal is a digitally encoded motion picture, such that information regarding
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each digitally encoded motion picture appears as a virtual video box including
original box art as appears on a VHS version of the motion picture box. At
step 408, one or mare rows of virtual box art are scrolled in a sliding,
sideways
manner one at a time or in a group, such that movie rental from a carousel of
movies or from aisles of a video store is simulated. Finally, at step 410, the
rows
of virtual box art may be sorted based on sort criteria provided to a movie
search
engine of the network video server 130.
Fig.11 depicts additional method steps 416, such that the digital video
signal is encrypted prior to transmission to the client computer 102. At step
418
the digital video signal is opened by the user using the movie player
software 118. At step 420 the user is redirected to a website to obtain an
unlock
encryption key such as the unlock screen 300 (Fig. 8) in accordance with the
rental procedures 152. In one embodiment, the server 130 checks whether an
unlock encryption key has been issued or activated for the movie to be
accessed
and requires a new license to be purchased to obtain additional keys. In
accordance with,the rental procedure 152, the unlock key becomes associated
with the client machine 102, for example, through a system file of the client
computer and data stored on the server 130 indicating the key and the
downloaded copy of the movie.. Association of the unlock key with the client
computer 102 prevents users from copying the unlocked digital video signal to
several computers for unlicensed usage.
At step 422 the digital video signal is enabled for viewing for the
specified period of time using the unlock encryption key, such that the unlock
key stores the time at which it was unlocked and initiates the specified
period of
time for rental. In one embodiment, the unlock encryption key can be activated
at any time after being downloaded from the server 130. In this case, the time
period does not begin until the key is activated. In addition, the unlock key
stores a machine identifier such, for example a machine ID of the client
computer 102. During the specified period of time, the unlock key verifies
that
the machine ID of the computer matches the stored machine ID in response to
any user attempt to replay the digital video signal. Finally, at step 424, the
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unlock encryption key is disabled once the specified period of time has
expired.
The specified period of time is preferably a 24-hour period. Consequently,
following the 24-hour period, the user is required to obtain an additional
unlock
encryption key in order to view the digital video signal for a further 24-hour
period as described above with respect to the unlock encryption key.
A content database 158 provides storage including electronic video data
files such as movies digitally encoded using a conventional encoding scheme
such as MPEG 1, MPEG 2 or MPEG 4 in accordance with the content preparation
procedures 148. Movies can be provided by one or more movie owners such as
movie studios. The files are stored in a secure format such that the digitally
encoded motion pictures are encrypted using conventional techniques such as a
public-private key system.
Several aspects of one implementation of the movie transfer system for
providing a movie to a user for viewing have been described. However, various
implementations of the movie transfer system provide numerous features
including, complementing, supplementing, and/ or replacing the features
described above. Features can be implemented as part of the server or as part
of
the user's computer system in different implementations.
It is to be understood that even though numerous characteristics and
advantages of various embodiments of the present invention have been set forth
in the foregoing description, together with details of the structure and
function
of various embodiment of the invention, this disclosure is illustrative only.
Changes may be made in detail, especially matters of structure and management
of parts within the principles of the present invention to the full extent
indicated
by the broad general meaning of the terms in which the appended claims are
expressed. For example, the particular element may vary depending on the
particular application for the novel mixed storage format while maintaining
substantially the same functionality without departing from the scope and
spirit
of the present invention.
In addition, although the preferred embodiment described herein is
directed to a video transfer system for enabling online rental of digitally
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encoded movies, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the
teachiizg of the present invention can be applied to other systems. In fact,
systems for online rental of digitally encoded songs, books, television
programming, radio programming, and any other content (audio, video, text,
etc.) which can be digitized or encoded and stored as an electronic file are
within
the teachings of the present invention, without departing from the scope and
spirit of the present invention.
The present invention provides many advantages over known
techniques. The present invention includes the ability to rent motion pictures
without having to provide additional monies for purchase of the motion
pictures. In addition, the present invention provides an interface which
simulates the actual rental of video cassettes or DVDs of motion pictures
within
a video rental store. Moreover, during the specified period of rental, the
user is
allowed to view the motion picture as many times as desired, thereby
simulating
the actual rental of video cassettes or DVDs of feature length motion
pictures.
Having disclosed exemplary embodiments and the best mode,
modifications and variations may be made to the disclosed embodiments while
remaining within the scope of the invention as defined by the following
claims.
-17-

A single figure which represents the drawing illustrating the invention.

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Admin Status

Title Date
Forecasted Issue Date Unavailable
(86) PCT Filing Date 2001-04-05
(87) PCT Publication Date 2001-10-18
(85) National Entry 2002-10-03
Examination Requested 2006-03-22
Dead Application 2009-11-27

Payment History

Fee Type Anniversary Year Due Date Amount Paid Paid Date
Filing $300.00 2002-10-03
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 2 2003-04-07 $100.00 2003-04-07
Extension of Time $200.00 2004-01-06
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 3 2004-04-05 $100.00 2004-03-16
Extension of Time $200.00 2005-01-06
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 4 2005-04-05 $100.00 2005-03-24
Registration of Documents $100.00 2006-01-05
Registration of Documents $100.00 2006-01-05
Registration of Documents $100.00 2006-01-05
Registration of Documents $100.00 2006-01-05
Extension of Time $200.00 2006-01-05
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 5 2006-04-05 $200.00 2006-03-13
Request for Examination $800.00 2006-03-22
Registration of Documents $100.00 2007-01-08
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 6 2007-04-05 $200.00 2007-03-09
Registration of Documents $100.00 2007-06-26
Registration of Documents $100.00 2007-06-26
Registration of Documents $100.00 2007-06-26
Registration of Documents $100.00 2007-06-26
Registration of Documents $100.00 2007-06-26
Registration of Documents $100.00 2007-06-26
Registration of Documents $100.00 2007-06-26
Registration of Documents $100.00 2007-06-26
Registration of Documents $100.00 2007-06-26
Registration of Documents $100.00 2007-06-26
Registration of Documents $100.00 2007-12-04
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 7 2008-04-07 $200.00 2008-03-14
Registration of Documents $100.00 2009-03-12
Current owners on record shown in alphabetical order.
Current Owners on Record
BLOCKBUSTER INC.
Past owners on record shown in alphabetical order.
Past Owners on Record
BARNETT, JEREMY ELI
CAREY, SEAN BRENNAN
CHONG, WILLIAM W.
EVANS, CHARLES JONATHAN
FOREST, BRUCE
FRANK, ANDREW C.
HENDERSON, TODD MICHAEL
KOENIG, STEVEN
LAKAMP, BRIAN DAVID
LANDAU, YAIR
MIRANDA, EVA
MOVIEFLY, LLC
MOVIELINK, LLC
OCHS, HARTMUT
PALMER, SETH DAVID
RUBENSTEIN, IRA STEVEN
SCHNABEL, EVERTON ANTHONY
SHERR, SCOTT JEFFREY
SILICON VALLEY INTERNET PARTNERS
SONY PICTURES DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT, INC.
SPAULDING, BRYAN GENTRY
VIANT CORPORATION
WIERSHOLM, KARL
Past Owners that do not appear in the "Owners on Record" listing will appear in other documentation within the application.

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Representative Drawing 2002-10-03 1 6
Cover Page 2003-01-27 2 46
Claims 2002-10-03 7 316
Abstract 2002-10-03 1 69
Drawings 2002-10-03 10 188
Description 2002-10-03 17 952
PCT 2002-10-03 8 402
Correspondence 2003-01-23 1 24
Correspondence 2004-01-06 1 29
Correspondence 2007-04-04 1 23
Correspondence 2004-04-21 1 17
Correspondence 2004-01-26 1 15
Correspondence 2005-01-06 1 28
Correspondence 2005-01-24 1 16
Correspondence 2006-01-05 3 110
Correspondence 2006-01-30 1 16
Prosecution-Amendment 2006-03-22 1 29
Correspondence 2006-07-13 2 46
Correspondence 2008-01-04 2 3
Prosecution-Amendment 2008-05-27 3 93
Correspondence 2009-04-30 1 16