A patent application has been filed for a disc that would play two competing high-definition DVD formats which, if successful, could help appease 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 Toshiba-supported HD-DVD 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 be alienating, and 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, which will increase costs. Electronics retailers also have balked at the situation.
From the standpoint of a manufacturer, it is disadvantageous to have to manufacture and distribute three different types of disc formats to satisfy consumer demand for one product - such as a motion picture, the inventors said in their patent application.
Moreover, multiple formats of DVD discs create retail and consumer confusion as to which format(s) to acquire or buy, they added.
NewScientist magazine reported about the patent application on its Web site on Tuesday.
Warner Bros. officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
The studio, owned by Time Warner Inc., will be the first to sell a film in all three formats separately - both new high-definition formats and standard DVD `- on the same day when it releases The Lake House starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock on September 26.
The patent application was filed by Wayne M. Smith, Alan Bell and Lewis S. Ostrover, who work for Warner Bros., according to an attorney who worked on it. Their corporate affiliations were not listed on the application filed with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in December and published last month.
Movies on a DVD are stored at different depths depending on the technology. Blu-ray discs store information only 0.1 millimeter from the surface while HD-DVD discs store it at 0.6 millimeters.
By using reflective films, the inventors say their disc would enable the lasers to read the top layer and see through to the lower one if necessary. Additional information also could be stored on the other side of the disc.
(Additional reporting by Lucas van Grinsven in Amsterdam and Georgina Prodhan in Frankfurt)