It may have taken the USPTO ten years to approve the original application, but they've finally granted TiVo a patent on "what looks like "season pass" prioritization, conflict resolution, and recording."
The patent description covers:
The invention correlates an input schedule that tracks the free and occupied time slots for each input source with a space schedule that tracks all currently recorded programs and the programs that have been scheduled to be recorded in the future, to schedule new programs to record and resolve recording conflicts. A program is recorded if at all times between when the recording would be initiated and when it expires, sufficient space is available to hold it. Programs scheduled for recording based on inferred preferences automatically lose all conflict decisions. All scheduling conflicts are resolved as early as possible. Schedule conflicts resulting from the recording of aggregate objects are resolved using the preference weighting of the programs involved. A background scheduler attempts to schedule each preferred program in turn until the list of preferred programs is exhausted or no further opportunity to record is available. A preferred program is scheduled if and only if there are no conflicts with other scheduled programs.
Of course this may sound like something that most DVRs on the market at this time do and one might wonder if TiVo will get lawsuit happy, but Engadget's resident legal nut Nilay Patel remarks that the patent is fairly narrow. So save the popcorn for the recorded shows instead of legal battles. [USPTO (Warning: PDF) via Zats Not Funny via Engadget]