Looking at Patent # US4540177 by Tibor Horvath, it looks quite different. In that patent he takes a spherical 2x2x2 mechanism, decorates the 6 intersections with 4 cubies each, then slips the rest of the cubies in the gaps.
You can view it at: http://l2.espacenet.com/dips/bnsviewer?CY=gb&LG=en&DB=EPD&PN=US4540177&ID=US+++4540177A1+I
(page 6/11 is the important one).
I couldn't find another 4x4x4 mechanism patented by Horvath in the Delphion database.
The mechanism pictured in Tyler's posting is a modification of a 3x3x3 mechanism with the center caps and edges buried inside the puzzle. The distinction is subtle (most 2x2x2 mechanisms have a buried 3x3x3) but some of the differences are: much simpler core (solid 6-armed spider vs. overlapping shells); no projecting corner pieces in the new mechanism; Horvath's looks like it would hold together with the edges/corners removed, while the new one would fall apart.