DIRECTV has acquired the assets of ReplayTV. Japanese company D&M Holdings has sold most of the ReplayTV company to the satellite broadcaster for an undisclosed sum. One of the pioneers of the digital video recorder, ReplayTV beat TiVO to the market by a matter of months but TiVo became almost synonymous with the category.

The intellectual property portfolio of ReplayTV could provide DIRECTV with some benefit in any future patent disputes.

“We consider this to be a significant portfolio in the area of DVRs and advanced DVR features,” said a DIRECTV representative, adding that “no decisions have been made concerning the integration of Replay technology with our existing platform.”

DIRECTV previously resold TiVo branded digital video recorders but discontinued the deal in favour of developing its own products in conjunction with NDS.

DIRECTV recently extended its relationship with NDS for conditional access services for a further five years, although no mention was made of digital video recorders.

TiVo is currently involved in a “time warp” patent dispute with DIRECTV rival EchoStar which operates the Dish Network.

D&M was formed from the businesses of Denon and Marantz and acquired ReplayTV the portable music player brand Rio in 2003 for about $36 million. ReplayTV was worth $125 million in 2001, but became embroiled in a damaging legal dispute with media companies.

Now that the features of digital video recorders have become more generally accepted, the main strategic value of ReplayTV could be in its patent portfolio.

“Although we valued this asset and the business was profitable, the sale of ReplayTV to DIRECTV makes the most sense for this business, its employees and us,” said Eric Evans, the chief executive of D&M, describing it as “a positive development for ReplayTV”.