Print 38 comment(s) - last by sircuit.. on Apr 6 at 3:03 PM

Netflix believes Blockbuster copied the way it allows customers to rent movies over the Internet

Netflix recently accused Blockbuster Inc. for patent infringement and has asked a federal judge to shut down Blockbuster's online movie rental service, according to reports.  Netflix holds two patents, one of which was issued on Tuesday.  The lawsuit states that Netflix's second patent, issued yesterday, "covers a method for subscription-based online rental that allows subscribers to keep the DVDs they rent for as long as they wish without incurring any late fees, to obtain new DVDs without incurring additional charges and to prioritize and reprioritize their own personal dynamic queue--of DVDs to be rented," the lawsuit claims.

Netflix sends out enough DVDs that it is one of the U.S. Postal Service's highest volume customers.  Netflix has also had a very strong impact on the way Blockbuster operates:  The movie rental chain store decided to drop late fees last year for all tardy rentals.

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By headbox on 4/5/2006 5:20:37 AM , Rating: 2
With their logic, McDonalds can sue Burger King for also selling burgers in a fast food joint.

RE: bleh
By redbone75 on 4/5/2006 6:30:55 AM , Rating: 2
Or Mercedes can sue Ford, General Motors and all other car manufacturers. This is just retarded that they are issued a patent for something as lame as renting DVD's online when they've had competition in the field for so long. I want to issue a patent for selling socks online: A means of allowing customers to purchase garments of various colors, fabrics and fashions worn on the foot. Said customer can alter quantity and ship date if need be and make wish lists of future makes and fashions :)

RE: bleh
By MrSmurf on 4/5/2006 6:38:19 AM , Rating: 2
There is a reason patient lawyers makes big bucks; patient lawsuits aren't as easy as you both are making them out to be.

RE: bleh
By hans007 on 4/5/2006 7:04:15 AM , Rating: 3
they still are based on a ridiculously stupid set of rules to even allow patents like this to happen.

i dont think anyone is arguing that they have a patent or not, it is that they were able to get a patent for something so trivial.

i am going to patent a method to transfer text based comments through a "network" based on a web of PCs to add to a news posting. And then i'm suing anands.

RE: bleh
By Furen on 4/5/2006 7:20:11 AM , Rating: 2
You would not be able to patent text-based comments due to prior art. Netflix started the Internet movie rental business by taking a huge risk that ended up paying in the end. Because of this, it has the right to protect its market from an insanely bigger company that can just throw money at the problem and basically put netflix out of business. The patent may be overly general, however, so it'll be interesting to see how this turns out in court (I'm guessing Netflix is seeking damages and an injuction)...

Just because the patent was issued yesterday doesn't mean that it hasn't been pending for a long while. If Blockbuster's online rental scheme was in place before the application for patent was filed then Blockbuster may be able to get a summary judgement in its favor, but I doubt this is the case or no self-respecting lawyer would bring the case to court.

RE: bleh
By masher2 on 4/5/2006 9:30:31 AM , Rating: 1
> "Just because the patent was issued yesterday doesn't mean that it hasn't been pending for a long while..."

Exactly so. I have patents filed in 2001 that are still under review...whereas some filed 3-4 years later are already approved. The USPTO works in mysterious ways.

RE: bleh
By Pythias on 4/5/2006 4:34:35 PM , Rating: 2
You cannot patent a least it shouldnt be allowed. What if someone had patented the car wash? Or the restaurant? Or the striptease? Music concerts?
Seleling a service is not a new idea, neither is selling a service online.

RE: bleh
By jconan on 4/5/2006 9:24:48 PM , Rating: 2
i didn't think they were patenting a service but a business logic/methodology similar to computer algorithims/software patents. the patent office should throw out software patents and business logic patents otherwise there will always be these kinds of patent lawsuits.

RE: bleh
By SunAngel on 4/5/2006 4:15:55 PM , Rating: 1
You wouldn't say that if you built or made some and wanted to protect it.

RE: bleh
By Pythias on 4/6/2006 10:04:40 AM , Rating: 2
I think the word you're looking for is monopoly. You think netflix should be the only company allowed to rent movies online?

RE: bleh
By masher2 on 4/6/2006 12:24:28 PM , Rating: 2
Netflix isn't able to prevent anyone from renting movies online; its trying to prevent the competition from doing so with their patented business model.

Personally, I don't agree with business model patents (though I hold a couple myself) because they don't fulfill the original intent of the patent system. Patents weren't conceived to enrich their owners, they were intended for the public good. The idea was that it would not only spur innovation, but prevent companies from hiding their developments as "trade secrets", where they may linger indefinitely, or even possibly by lost forever. Patents, though, all eventually enter the public domain.

Do business method patents spur innovation? We certainly don't need them to keep them in public view...a company can't hide how it conducts its business. For that reason alone, I think such patents should either be barred, or limited to a considerably shorter period than the standard 20 year period.

RE: bleh
By isaacmacdonald on 4/5/2006 9:48:33 AM , Rating: 2
I agree -- it's *patently* ridiculous for models like "renting DVDs through packets transmitted over networks" to be declared intellectual property. It's like patenting pizza delivery via vehicles running on internal combustion engines.

RE: bleh
By Pythias on 4/5/2006 4:35:45 PM , Rating: 2
I agree -- it's *patently* ridiculous for models like "renting DVDs through packets transmitted over networks" to be declared intellectual property. It's like patenting pizza delivery via vehicles running on internal combustion engines.

Bad pun and good point. :)

I hope both go out of business
By Nocturnal on 4/5/06, Rating: 0
By jtesoro on 4/5/2006 4:52:53 AM , Rating: 2
Take it easy man. I think we'd all prefer that they continue to do business, but in a more customer-friendly way. :)

RE: I hope both go out of business
By robert5c on 4/5/06, Rating: 0
RE: I hope both go out of business
By Cygni on 4/5/2006 5:41:20 AM , Rating: 2
RTFA, smart guy. We are talking Blockbuster ONLINE not Blockbuster's brick and mortar stores.

RE: I hope both go out of business
By davegraham on 4/5/2006 9:40:17 AM , Rating: 3
i think people should stop pirating DVDs when using both services. can't have your cake and eat it too.

By SunAngel on 4/5/2006 3:18:34 PM , Rating: 2
DUDE!!! My thoughts exactly. But guess what? We are the minority. They are the majority. And in America who suffers? You got.

By Xenoterranos on 4/5/2006 10:11:25 AM , Rating: 1
Yes, I hate taking a crap. I hope my ass eventually dries up and rots.

By Pythias on 4/5/2006 9:41:41 AM , Rating: 2
I'm waiting for McDonalds to sue some burger chain over how condements are spread Netflix just lost my subscription. I'm am so sick of these stupid frivolous patent suits. Should UPS sue fed ex? Where does it end?

RE: Bullshido!
By UsernameX on 4/5/2006 10:14:12 AM , Rating: 2
I mean common this was obviously intentional. They implemented the patent on tuesday...

RE: Bullshido!
By Kyteland on 4/5/2006 11:47:10 AM , Rating: 2
The patent was issued on Tuesday. It was probably filed way back when Netflix started their business. Now that it has been issued they can go about enforcing it, where they really couldn't do much before.

And it's "come on", not common....

So Lame
By Einy0 on 4/5/2006 12:17:28 PM , Rating: 2
Netflix decided to do this becuase Blockbuster offers far better and faster online rental service. Netflix's website works better but I get new movies much faster than I did with Netflix and the turn around time is much faster as well. Netflix's hidden clause about frequent renters really screwed me over. Blockbuster rules!!!

RE: So Lame
By SSNYT on 4/5/2006 1:34:46 PM , Rating: 2
true, BB sends movies out quickly. the prob though is that they never have a lot of new releases. i am always waiting for my newly released movies, whereas with netflix i get the new releases faster. BB sucks imo. they are the huge bully that is finally getting what they deserve from the little guy.

RE: So Lame
By Milliamp on 4/5/2006 5:08:49 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you there. I was a BB customer for ~10 years. I always pay my late fees when I go back to rent, not when I return movies.

One time I didn't rent a movie for a month or so so they sent me to a collection agancy over $8.

I was with them for a few more years, but I took the first chance out I could find. For me that was Netflix.

Cry me a river BB.

Software patents
By GoatMonkey on 4/5/2006 7:51:18 AM , Rating: 2
All software patents need to be thrown out of court. It is not something that should be patentable.

RE: Software patents
By TomZ on 4/5/2006 8:47:26 AM , Rating: 2
This sounds like a business process patent, which are probably even more evil than software patents.

By HardwareD00d on 4/5/2006 10:50:27 AM , Rating: 2
all your patents are belong to us.

RE: omg
By Randall Lind on 4/5/2006 11:26:25 AM , Rating: 2
BlockBuster sucks so I hope Netflix wins. BlockBuster no more late fee campaign was a scam I know people that was charge for movies under that plan.

There no late fees cause if you late you brought it. LOL

BB online stinks in my area
By wmansfield on 4/5/2006 2:03:38 PM , Rating: 2
I had terrible service from BB when I tried them out. I went right back to Netflix that month. Turnaround times were over a week and their website never told me when/if a DVD I sent back arrived.

RE: BB online stinks in my area
By gplracer on 4/5/2006 2:31:00 PM , Rating: 2
This lawsuit is ridiculous! Blockbuster is getting into the same type of business and now Netflix is suing them. Maybe Blockbuster should sue Netflix for renting DVDs. Netflix can cross me off their list of being a potential customer now.

I tried netflix but did not like it because the turn around time was too slow. I teach school and I am off in the summer so it is nice to rent lots of movies. The local blockbuster has unlimited rentals for a monthly fee. That works out better for me.

You gotta be kidding....
By stupid on 4/6/2006 12:32:04 PM , Rating: 2
This lawsuit reminds of the “One Click Checkout” technology that Amazon (IIRC) patented and went after on-line stores like Barnes and Noble because they allowed the consumer to quickly click once to purchase a book. I don’t know much about the patent approval process, but some things just should not be given a patent.

I can understand if a company has developed a highly complex business model that took a vast amount of research and development time that produces a unique product or result such developing an economic software model used to build scenarios of the world economy for the next 5 years. But a patent for “this is how we are going to rent DVDs on the internet and make money” is simply ludicrous.

Imagine how rich Henry Ford would have been if he patented the concept of mass production? In today’s would, mass production is a given because all businesses depends on it. The Ford family would be the richest people on Earth if the general concept of mass production has been patented. Bill Gate’s billions of dollars would be a mere drop in the bucket. Just how many businesses are there on this world that depends on some form of mass production to be in business?

Netflix’s concept of the queue is not something that has been developed solely by Netflix. It has been in existence for a long time. How do you place an order for meat in a butcher shop? Take a number, and get in line. Guess what, you’re in a queue. You want to date that hot chick in college? Guess what, you’re in her queue, and possibly in her trash bin. Frivolous patents don’t do anyone any good. It’s really a waste of money and time. Maybe I should get patent my business model so that I can sue all the businesses that infringes on it.

My business model: “Make a profit.”

RE: You gotta be kidding....
By masher2 on 4/6/2006 12:51:30 PM , Rating: 2
> "Imagine how rich Henry Ford would have been if he patented the concept of mass production? ...The Ford family would be the richest people on Earth "

FYI, Henry Ford was, for a while, one of the ten richest on earth...a fortune he earned in large part through the application of his vast array of patents.

By blwest on 4/5/2006 9:09:04 AM , Rating: 3
zomg competition. Oh noes. If you can't compete, then sue them! It's the american way.

Patent on a service??
By Milliamp on 4/5/2006 5:03:34 PM , Rating: 3
Patents are for technologies, not services.

I should file a patent for "selling household robots" or something. Then I can own the only company legaly allowed to sell them.

4. Profit

Netflix is winning this war against Blockbuster anyway, why go about it like this?

By latino666 on 4/5/2006 9:08:33 AM , Rating: 2
Competition is always good. Sucks if we are going to have only one online DVD rental place.

Neither was the first
By sircuit on 4/6/2006 3:03:19 PM , Rating: 2
There were other services long before Netflix and BB got into it. Some of them even rent out adult videos

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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