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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 masher2 (blog) 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.


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