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Lycos Sues TiVo, Netflix and Blockbuster Over

Categories: CasesPatents

U.S. Patent 6,775,664*
U.S. Patent 6,308,175*
One-time rival of Yahoo! and Google, Lycos claims that TiVo, Netflix and Blockbuster infringe its two patents over the way they provide movie and television show recommendations to customers.

Dale's Comment:  *I am not certain of the patents listed above. These were cited by Davis Freeberg as the most likely patents involved.. I'll update if/when I get more information. I wonder why Amazon.com wasn't named here. The methods used by these companies to recommend content is pretty straight forward and, to me, obvious. 

Sources: DallasNews (Bloomberg) | Mercury News | SeekingAlpha | Davis Freeberg

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Blockbuster Anti-Trust Countersuit Against Netflix to Proceed

Categories: AntitrustNew Business ModelsPatents

In response to Netflix’s patent infringement lawsuit launched against Blockbuster last April, Blockbuster filed an anti-trust counter suit against Netflix. Netflix asked the court to dismiss the counter suit, split the suits in two and/or postpone discovery on the second until the first was resolved. U.S. District Judge William Alsup rejected all three motions.

Sources: ars technica | CNet | San Jose Mercury News (AP) | Out-law.com | Hollywood Reporter, Esq. | Hollywood Reporter | Reuters

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Netflix Sues Blockbuster to Shut Online Service

Categories: CasesNew Business ModelsPatents

- Text of Netflix’s Complaint (including patents)
- Netflix’s New Patent 7,024,381 (’381′) (April 4, 2006)
- Netflix’s Patent 6,584,450 (’450′) (June 24, 2003)
On the heals of being granted its new “Approach for Renting Items to Customers” business model patent ’381, Netflix has sued rival Blockbuster for patent infringement, seeking to shut down Blockbuster’s 18-month-old online rental service and award Netflix damages. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, alleges that Blockbuster infringed Netflix’s ’381 patent by “copying Netflix’s patented business method, including but not limited to copying Netflix’s dynamic queue; copying Netflix’s method of sending DVDs to subscribers based on ranked order of titles in their queue; and copying Netflix’s method of allowing subscribers to update and reorder their queue”. Netflix alleges that Blockbuster knew of the pending patent application, but “willfully and deliberately” launched an infringing service anyway.

The ’381 patent is a continuation of, and claims benefits of, the Netflix’s earlier patent ’450. The abstracts for each of the (i) new ‘Approach for Renting Items to Customers” patent ’381′ and (ii) ‘Method and Apparatus for Renting Items’ patent ’450, granted earlier on June 24, 2003; are the same, and both read as follows:

According to a computer-implemented approach for renting items to customers, customers specify what items to rent using item selection criteria separate from deciding when to receive the specified items. According to the approach, customers provide item selection criteria to a provider provides the items indicated by the item selection criteria to customer over a delivery channel. The provider may be either centralized or distributed depending upon the requirements of a particular application. A “Max Out” approach allows up to a specified number of items to be rented simultaneously to customers. A “Max Turns” approach allows up to a specified number of item exchanges to occur during a specified period of time. The “Max Out” and “Max Turns” approaches may be used together or separately with a variety of subscription methodologies.

And, FYI, here is the abstract of Netflix’s earlier “Mailing and Response Envelope” patent no. 6,966,484 granted on November 22, 2005:

A mailing and response envelope for conveying an item from a sender to a recipient and back is disclosed. The envelope comprises a base panel, a sender address panel, and a recipient address panel. The sender address panel is affixed to the base panel by an adhesive region. The sender address panel and adhesive region define a pocket sized to accept an item. The adhesive region extends laterally on the base panel in an amount selected to ensure that a postal cancellation is not applied to an area overlying the item. The recipient address panel is joined to the base panel by a detachable joint. In this configuration, a fragile item may be conveyed from the sender to the recipient and from the recipient back to the sender without damage to the item.

Sources: CNet | ars technica | MSNBC | Reuters | CNN | Red Herring | Hollywood Reporter | CNN Money | Chron | USA Today | San Jose Mercury News | SF Engadget | SF Examiner | SF Gate | Business Week | Blockbuster Press Release

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Netflix “indefinitely postpones” Online Movie Download Service

Categories: AgreementsBig Media v InternetBigMedia v NewTech

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings confirmed they had “indefinitely” postponed the test launch of that new online movie download service they’ve been testing owing to problems getting the studios to agree to license their content.

Sources: Engadget  |  ars technica  |  PVR Blog  |  Video Business

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Warner Announces “Total Hi Def” A Hybrid HD-DVD/Blue-ray Disk

Categories: HD-DVD/Blu-rayNew Tech

Warner Home Video made a surprising announcement at CES. Starting in the 3rd quarter of  2007 it will exclusively release its HD titles on a hybrid, multi-layer, HD-DVD and  Blu-ray disk dubbed "Total Hi Def". HD-DVD formatted content will be on one side and Blu-ray formatted content will be on the other. Regardless of the HD player a consumer purchases, these disks would be playable.

In an effort to put the format wars behind (and increase sales), Warner has committed to licensing the Total Hi Def technology to any other TV/movie studio for free. Not surprisingly, fellow Time Warner properties, New Line Studios and HBO, have said they will also use the Total Hi Def format. Major retailers including Best Buy, Circuit City, and Amazon.com have announced they will support this format and make Total Hi Def DVDs available through these retail channels.  No word yet from Walmart.

Dale's Comment: This is an interesting development in the high-def wars (which I personally believe HD-DVD is winning). Consumers don't want to be left in a loosing Betamax-like camp. Universal exclusively supports the HD-DVD standard. Fox, Disney and Sony, of course, exclusively support Blu-ray. Other studios support both. If Warner is licensing this this technology for free, it is possible that these studios, with the exception of Sony, could eventually support this hybrid disk approach. That said, the per-unit manufacturing costs will be higher than producing disks with one format or the other because the process requires the purchase of dual manufacturing equipment to support both formats. 


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TiVo to Conduct Video Download Trial

Categories: iVOD/iTV

After TiVo/Netflix iVoD venture fails due to lack of content owner co-operation, TiVo to conduct first Internet video download trial.

Sources: TiVo  |  PVR Blog

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