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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 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.

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