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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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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. :)

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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