HD DVD, Blu-ray Dual Format Disc in the Works?

HD DVD and its rival high-definition DVD format, Blu-ray, have been going head to head in a battle for supremacy in the next-generation DVD space, but a patent application filed by three Warner Bros. staffers may prove their efforts were for naught.

Wayne M. Smith, Alan Bell and Lewis S. Ostrover, the Warner Bros. employees—two of whom are engineers—have filed a patent application for a disc that could be written in both the HD-DVD and Blu-ray formats, as well as the traditional DVD format, Reuters reports via MSNBC.com.

Currently, Hollywood studios, retailers and consumers are stuck in the middle of the two feuding formats, trying to determine which—if either—to throw their support behind. Many studios have expressed interest in one format or the other, and some have said they’ll offer films in both formats, though the costs of such endeavors are sure to deter some firms from going that route. Some DVD retailers have expressed frustration and concern over the ongoing war of formats, because they’re hesitant to get behind one for fear that the other will make their choice obsolete.

Toshiba developed the HD-DVD format, and Sony backs Blu-ray. Both types of discs are read with a laser, but they’re not currently compatible.

The proposed “multilayer dual optical disc” would feature one layer for information stored in the traditional DVD/CD format, one for one of the new high-definition formats, and another for the rival HD format, Reuters reports.

The patent application reads, “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,” according to Reuters. “Moreover, multiple formats of DVD discs create retail and consumer confusion as to which format(s) to acquire or buy.”

Warner Bros. did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for information on the subject.

The three inventors did not mention on the application for the patent that they are affiliated with Warner Bros., according to Reuters.

On Sept. 26, Warner Bros. will become the first studio to offer to consumers a film title in all three disc formats—HD DVD, Blu-ray and the standard DVD—when it makes available The Lake House, staring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, Reuters reports.

In related news, a market research firm named Screen Digest in August released a report that predicted the DVD format wars would end in a draw, with both formats merging instead of one coming out on top.

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