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Netflix Suing Blockbuster for Patent Infringement 410

grouchomarxist writes "Netflix is suing Blockbuster for Patent Infringement. From the article: 'Netflix holds two U.S. patents for its business methodology, which calls for subscribers to pay a monthly fee to select and rent DVDs from the company's Web site and to maintain a list of titles telling Netflix in which order to ship the films, according to the patents, which were included as exhibits in the lawsuit. The first patent, granted in 2003, covers the method by which Netflix customers select and receive a certain number of movies at a time, and return them for more titles. The second patent, issued on Tuesday, "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 said.'"
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Netflix Suing Blockbuster for Patent Infringement

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  • Worried! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:02AM (#15065090)
    Does this also cover my shopping list at Asda (Walmart)?

    I am really worried. Any minute now, someone will patent going to work by bus. (Including SCSI and VME)

    • Re:Worried! (Score:3, Funny)

      by dodobh ( 65811 )
      Nah, we will patent going to work over the Internet.
    • yeah, who is going to actually put a sane limit on what a patent can hold? Why should there be a difference between renting online and renting from a store/by phone/text message/WAP (as opposed to the 'normal' internet). You cant patent renting things presumably, it's just such a fundamental concept, which I'd assume has been around for thousands of years.. not least renting out yourself for work and other such things >.>
    • Re:Worried! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GuyverDH ( 232921 )
      If you are really upset about the methods being used by litigious patent-pushers, stop using their products / services.

      #1 - Caldera SCO - very easy to stop using - no products or services worth using IMNSHO.
      #2 - Amazon - a little tougher, but not terribly so.
      #3 - NetFlix - never used it, and now, never will.
  • by tpgp ( 48001 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:02AM (#15065091) Homepage
    TFA:
    "Blockbuster has been willfully and deliberately copying Netflix's business methods," Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey said.
    So what if they're copying your business methods - thats called competition.
  • a sad time (Score:5, Funny)

    by tont0r ( 868535 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:05AM (#15065105)
    next 7-11 will sue circle K because they both run the same business.
  • Broken beyond repair (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:05AM (#15065106) Homepage

    The first patent, granted in 2003, covers the method by which Netflix customers select and receive a certain number of movies at a time, and return them for more titles.

    So a common-sense business method is patentable? The U.S. patent system really is broken, I'd encourage all to read Jaffe & Lerner's Innovation and Its Discontents [amazon.com] to see just how broken it is. Personally, I think there's no hope of repair, and innovation would progress better were the entire system thrown out. But patents are seen as such a triumph of early American government, with founding fathers like Jefferson in favor of them. Plus, our legislature is currently enslaved to monetary interests. So, we're stuck in quite a pickle where nothing can really be done.

    • by mtenhagen ( 450608 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:07AM (#15065117) Homepage
      Just wait until someone tries to change the patent system. I bet all patent systems are patented already.
    • by Cheap Imitation ( 575717 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:28AM (#15065253)
      How's that for ironic? A comment protesting the patent of common-sense business methods, and a request to read about it by giving us a referral link to Amazon, of all places... Now that's funny stuff!
    • So you basically suggest that we buy a book from Amazon, which patented the "One Click Shopping", to get some awareness about the patent system being broken?

      Do I smell some irony here?
    • by ktappe ( 747125 )

      patents are seen as such a triumph of early American government, with founding fathers like Jefferson in favor of them.

      Not exactly. In their day, the founding fathers only supported individual persons being granted patents. Corporations were not treated as individuals until the late 1870's and thus could not hold patents until that time. So what Jefferson & co. supported was a much more common-sense approach to patents--that they be granted to the individual for actual physical inventions. It was

  • by PornMaster ( 749461 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:06AM (#15065114) Homepage
    Aside from whether or not business methods should be patentable... since they were granted the patent, it's pretty obvious that they had come up with a novel process which was straight-up copied. On the legal merits, they should certainly win.
    • by Pofy ( 471469 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:11AM (#15065136)
      >Aside from whether or not business methods should be patentable... since
      >they were granted the patent, it's pretty obvious that they had come up with
      >a novel process which was straight-up copied.

      Please tell what part of it that is novel and non obvious (to people in THAT area)? In addition, it should be something that no one has done before 2003 (or even later since that was the first patent).
      • Sure it is obvious now... thanks to Netflix pioneering it seven years ago (getting a patent takes a while). Although I don't have much respect for the US patent system, I have to wonder how else would Netflix protect their novel business model from a competitor like Blockbuster? BB has several major advantages already: a huge, existing inventory of movies and actual stores. How can Netflix compete with that without protecting their novel business model?

        I subscribe to Blockbuster now because of the fact that
        • by FrostyWheaton ( 263146 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `tsorf.kram'> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @09:11AM (#15065519) Homepage
          Shouldn't they be able to protect that in some way?

          Sure, they can protect it the same way McDonald's, CarMax, Wal-Mart and others have protected their place. To my knowledge neither of these three (or of dozens of other premier companies with 'novel business models' has needed the USPTO to help retain their place of prominence. Being first to market is a huge advantage and that alone will sustain the fellow who 'thought of that first' in many cases.

          TANSTAAFL, especially in the business world. Just because I come up with the novel concept of providing a subscription CD service (totally different from DVDs which appears to be what is patented), over the internet, with sprinkles gives me no more claim to royalties than the fellow who figured out that people were dumb enough to pay $1.50 for a bottle of water.

        • by multiOSfreak ( 551711 ) <culturejam&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @09:49AM (#15065843) Homepage Journal
          Although I don't have much respect for the US patent system, I have to wonder how else would Netflix protect their novel business model from a competitor like Blockbuster? BB has several major advantages already: a huge, existing inventory of movies and actual stores. How can Netflix compete with that without protecting their novel business model?

          Maybe Netflix could protect its business model by...I don't know...offering the best service/product in the market? If they are the best (in the view of the public), it won't matter how their competitors model their businesses to compete.Netflix is more or less asking the courts for special protection against market competition. I don't think *that* is a very good business model, but then again, I don't run a multi-million-dollar corporation.

          I subscribe to Blockbuster now because of the fact that I get 2 free rentals every month from a store in addition to the all I can watch by mail. ... Netflix can not compete on that level without partnering with some other competing retail rental chain.

          If you're so worried about Netflix's business, why don't you support them instead of Blockbuster? And as for Netflix not being able to compete "at that level," well, that's tough shit. They entered a national video rental market, and the have to find a way to compete "at that level."
      • You are correct, which is what makes this a great opportunity to change patent law. For every dollar Blockbuster spends on this suit, they should put a dollar toward changing patent law. Informing people, lobbying, etc. In the long run it will pay off since they will avoid similar suits like this.
    • That is certainly a reasonable expectation.

      The problem is that the patent office has pretty much stated that they don't really spend much time these days researching whether a given idea is patentable, and instead let the courts sort it all out. In that context, this is really about challenging the validity of the patent.

      • The problem is that the patent office has pretty much stated that they don't really spend much time these days researching whether a given idea is patentable, and instead let the courts sort it all out.

        An even bigger problem is that the courts have said that the patent office must know what it's talking about, and consider patents to be valid until proven otherwise.

      • Because that's a great idea. Move the work of the congested patent office to the congested courts. I would think it would be more beneficial for patents to take a little longer, rather than more unnecessary lawsuits in the courts.
  • Utter, utter BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stunt_penguin ( 906223 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:07AM (#15065115)
    OK so what if I go out and patent queueing at a shop checkout to pay for goods, or paying for magazines to be delivered to your home on a monthly basis, or, or........

    This shit has to stop, I mean netflix are just being totally petty about the whole damn thing. I mean, what *other* way is there to organise online DVD rental? Are they going to enforce patents on their *whole* business model.

    This has to stop. Gah!
  • Library patents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by doddi ( 881823 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:09AM (#15065127)
    The first patent, granted in 2003, covers the method by which Netflix customers select and receive a certain number of movies at a time, and return them for more titles.

    Isn't this exactly how libraries have worked since ...um, long before 2003?
    • Re:Library patents (Score:4, Informative)

      by montyzooooma ( 853414 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:13AM (#15065158)
      No, because this is ONLINE. Throw "on the internet" in there and you can patent pretty much any existing business practice. Other magic phrases are "on a handheld device" or "on a games console".
      • Hey, thats not a bad idea. A few others we should capitalize on:
        • On the Moon
        • Underwater
        • with your feet
        • psionically
        • with Ranch
        • with vim and vigor

        Although, I think there may be some trouble defending "with Ranch".
      • Re:Library patents (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Comboman ( 895500 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @09:03AM (#15065467)
        No, because this is ONLINE

        Been to a library lately? My local library has been online since before 2003 http://catalogue.halifaxpubliclibraries.ca/ [halifaxpub...braries.ca] and allows you to add books, CDs and yes DVDs to your personal list, informs you when they are available for pick-up at your local branch, and when you return them they send you the next ones on your list when they're available. Sounds like 'prior art' to me, the only real difference is that the library isn't charging a monthly fee.

      • The library system in Wake County, North Carolina has an online catalog where I can create a list of books I want to read or select some and request those be transferred to a specified branch to be picked up at my convenience. I can keep them for three weeks, and even renew the "rental" online for at least two more periods. So far, I have found no limit where they tell me I can't chek out any more books. (My wife grabbed 20 books for our kids one time; I never figured out why.)

        Except for the cost (free vs

    • Isn't this exactly how libraries have worked since ...um, long before 2003?

      I wouldn't say that it is exactly how libraries work. I don't recall ever maintaining a dynamic list at the library of books that they would automatically send me once I returned the old ones. Heck, they never sent me a book at all. Seems like regardless of how many books I had out, there was also a definite date that they wanted each one returned by, too. There may be some parallels to draw with recalling books and renewing du

      • So, they hold the list rather than me holding it myself, and they operate a postal service rather than requiring me to visit them personally, and suddenly it's patentable? Do me a favour.

        (Not having a go at you, just at the sheer idiocy of anyone even attempting to patent this, let alone succeeding)
  • Simple solution. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RandoX ( 828285 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:09AM (#15065128)
    Blockbuster should charge $.01 per year late fees. No longer the same as the patent.
    • Actually, that's a really good idea, and gets around part of the problem. Maybe they can then introduce a customer bonus system that means they get their late fees back if they rent more than 5 movies in a year, thereby making the whole thing null and void for all customers.
      • Re:Simple solution. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Aneurysm9 ( 723000 )
        Then you run into the doctrine of equivalents. Even if one device or method does not correspond 1:1 to the claims in the patent, infringement may be found if the device or method is sufficiently equivalent.
  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:10AM (#15065133)
    First of all, Blockbuster sucks, they 'settled' their class action lawsuit for overcharging for late fees by offering about 3-4 free rentals as payment. That is unfair. They made millions from these late fees and then when they were found to be scamming, they just offered some free rentals, big deal...we never saw that late-fee money again.

    Netflix needs to stop staggering movies for frequent-renters. Just because someone can take full advantage of their 'all-you-can-rent' policy, doesn't mean they should be penalized for it. Netflix already gains from those who don't return their movies regularly, so why should they care if some rent and watch a new movie every day? Just charge more per month or get rid of the policy.
  • by Throtex ( 708974 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:12AM (#15065144)
    ... should probably take the time to read the patents in controversy assigned to Netflix first.

    They are:
    US Patent No. 6,966,484 to Calonje, et al.; and
    US Patent No. 7,024,381 to Hastings, et al.

    As you do so, look at the claim language, not the specification, to find out what the invention actually covers. Discuss.
    • I forgot to point out that, in case you don't notice it, the following patent (of which the most recently issued is a continuation) is also included:

      U.S. Patent No. 6,584,450 to Hastings, et al.
  • by defwu ( 688771 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:16AM (#15065169) Journal
    Yes, "common-sense" business models are patentable. Why? Because "common-sense" is not as common as you would think.
    As for the "patents are bad for innovation" argument : if you come up with a way to manufacture widgets that no one else has before, and that innovation has cost you a certain amount in development costs, should you not have the right to protect that investment? If your competition can just steal your methods, then you would have no incentive to innovate.
    I am not saying that there isn't a line here, or that the the line hasn't been jumped over by the US. patent office, but by and large patents do in fact encourge business investment into research that would otherwise not happen.
    • One problem is that often someone will patent an idea without further developing it. They will sit on it until another company does all the footwork to make the idea feasible and then sue them. Unless the other company takes the risk the patent won't benefit anyone.
    • common sense (Score:2, Insightful)

      Yes but common sense refers to the time the patent application is filed. I agree that lots of ideas are obvious after someone has had them. That is why you file the patent, and then tell the world about it. But if your idea was obvious before you suggested it, that's common sense and isn't (and shouldn't be) protected. If all obvious ideas could be patented, it becomes a race to file patents, and innovation naver gets a look in. Which appears to be how the US patent office functions.
    • Patents *are* bad (Score:2, Insightful)

      by chaves ( 824310 )
      "If your competition can just steal your methods, then you would have no incentive to innovate"

      We don't need incentive to innovate, innovation is in the inner essence of the human race. Problems need to be solved, and someone will solve them first. There are many benefits of being an inventor or pioneer. And innovation is good for business as well, as it gives you a lead over the competition (no need to tie people down). There are ways you can prevent others from just stealing your work, such as copyrigh

    • Business method patents would be more palatable if the term of protection weren't so long, especially when the web is involved. Seventeen-year legal monopolies just don't fit a twelve-year-old medium.
    • by orzetto ( 545509 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:57AM (#15065426)
      [if] that innovation has cost you a certain amount in development costs, should you not have the right to protect that investment?

      I believe not at all. Rights are granted for the benefit of the whole of society, not single individuals: otherwise you might as well reintroduce slavery, as it was very beneficial to a few guys. Having a monopoly on something that can be reproduced indefinitely such as business or programming methods, and knowledge in general, means unfairly harming everybody else. You are not damaged by someone else who's using your methods (this does not block you from using them), unless you mean by competition, and last time I checked there is quite a load of legislation that actually protects competition, as it is demonstrated to improve product quality for society.

      If your competition can just steal your methods, [...]

      You cannot steal a method or an idea. You can only copy it. The original author still has it.

      ... then you would have no incentive to innovate.

      On the contrary, if you know that the competition is going to figure out your methods and implement them after a while, you know also that you must keep innovating and leveraging your position as first in the market (it takes time to make a Webshop from just an idea: and if you are slow and competition is faster than you to commercialise, it's all your fault). In other words, you have to do actual work, not rest on your laurels because some law forbid everybody else from using your methods.

      From the whole society's point of view (that is, our point of view), if Netflix wins we are going to see worse service from Blockbuster and less competition. If Blockbuster wins, competition will be closer between the companies and they will have to find a way to get more customers.

      The more I think of the patent system the more I think that the whole concept is flawed. As generally with IP, Beethoven and Mozart died in poverty, Britney Spears is filthy rich.

      • Rights are granted for the benefit of the whole of society, not single individuals: otherwise you might as well reintroduce slavery, as it was very beneficial to a few guys.

        Are you insane? All rights are granted to individuals only, never to "society". In your example, for instance, the South benefited greatly as a society from institutionalized slavery - not just "a few guys". I'm not here to say slavery is right (in fact it is very wrong), but that granting rights to "society" means granting rights to

      • "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries" - Article I, Section 8, US Constitution.

        The reason for granting time-limited exclusivity (patents, copyrights) is not that innovators have a right to protect an investment, as the GP says. The reason is that without time-limited exclusivity, there would be a lot less incentive for innovators to innovate in the first place. This is esp
    • As for the "patents are bad for innovation" argument : if you come up with a way to manufacture widgets that no one else has before, and that innovation has cost you a certain amount in development costs, should you not have the right to protect that investment?

      If a company comes up with a new way to manufacture widgets -- a new widget-making machine, for instance -- and you're talking about a competitor stealing the construction plans for the machine, then I think this is a different situation, and far

  • Last time I checked, patenting was only for "new and innovative" methodologies and products. What I read in the article is neither. It is common sense to give people the products they want in the order they want them, and to give repeat customers a flat-rate on rentals. I suppose Netflix should look elsewhere for their innovations. They could try pantenting their screw over your customers [msn.com] business methodology...
  • by ip_freely_2000 ( 577249 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:20AM (#15065202)
    A method in which I look in the fridge on a regular basis and realize it is empty. I then get in the car and drive to the beer store to replenish my supply of beer.

    You all owe me.
    • A method in which I look in the fridge on a regular basis and realize it is empty. I then get in the car and drive to the beer store to replenish my supply of beer.

      Man... If I'd ever done that I couldn't count the number of DUI's I would've ended up with...
  • This is so fucking stupid. This is a business model called "renting" - it's happened for a very very long time.

    I suppose we will have to watch the US Economy collapse as they tie themselves in self-imposed legal knots. What an unbelieveable situation.

    How much more will it take before the US lawmakers realise that the Intellectual Property balance in the US has hit the end-scale stop.

    • It is impossible to achieve realization when one's head is so far up one's own ass.
      Truly they are so busy profiteering on this exquisitely fucked situation from their view they'd be crazy to change
  • patent throttling (Score:3, Insightful)

    by maryjanecapri ( 597594 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:22AM (#15065215) Homepage Journal
    Do you think Netflix is going to also patent their wonderful method of throttling their better customers? I just signed up for Blockbuster after watching my netflix shipping come to a slow grinding halt. I am actually LUCKY if I get my three movies at a time in a single week now. So I wanted to check out Blockbuster to see how they fared. Now they are getting sued by Netflix. Boy is that irony? Of course this will never go through - if it does, imagine the precident it will set. KMart will go after Walmart (for their methodology of having consumers in lines to pay for goods). Converse will go after Adidas (for their methodology of creating goods to go on someone's feet). I just hope like hell Blockbuster isn't also sued for slowing down the shipping of movies. I do believe Netflix has the corner on that market!
  • Blockbuster was stupid. If they had done a land grab, and patented simply renting videos, they could have knocked off NetFlix with a suit. And if "Corner Video" in Framingham had done it, they could have knocked off Blockbuster. And if the TV repair shop in Westboro (the first place I rented a video) had patented it, the entire industry could have been stopped. So, if the MPAA had thought of it, one patent could have prevented home theatre. Ok, I got the way it works now. Patents are cool.

    And yes, tha
  • I hereby announce that I hold a patent on suing others for infringing on dubious patents. If you hold a patent of dubious nature, and you sue someone else over it, you owe me royalties.

    And if you sue me over my patent, you still owe me royalties.

  • Intelliflix (Score:5, Interesting)

    by szembek ( 948327 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:36AM (#15065295) Homepage
    I use these guys: http://www.intelliflix.com/ [intelliflix.com]. It's cheap. Anyways, they too are copying Netflix, must be that they're not big enough to get sued for it yet. Estupido.
    • Well yeah. Why spend money suing someone who doesn't have any? I thought the whole point of the patent system was to visciously extort money from anyone who might have had the same idea as you.

      But I could be wrong.

      No. I don't think so.
  • My friend at Netflix (Score:5, Interesting)

    by leather_helmet ( 887398 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:40AM (#15065318)
    My good friend who has been working at netflix for approximately 5 years says that most of the employees think the lawsuit issue with blockbuster is a waste of time

    Blockbuster has been getting their asses kicked in regards to marketshare vs. netflix for about the last year or so
    When blockbuster initially tried to compete with Nflix, the Nflix folks were a bit scared, including my buddy who was worried about the future of the company he helped develop - however, after Nflix's somewhat recent resurgence & increased user subscription, which in turn boosted the stock prices from all time lows, blockbuster has become a non-issue to Nflix (well at least to my buddy and most of the staff)
    --
    • Exactly, do they really need to kick Blockbuster more while it's down? Do they just want to leagaly speed it's demise with a stupid patent? I'm going to miss the convienence of going and picking up a movie right now when it's gone.
    • "Blockbuster has been getting their asses kicked in regards to marketshare vs. netflix for about the last year or so"

      Of course you are going to get your ass kicked entering a market that a sole company dominated for 3-4 years. Just because your buddy can't see 5 years into the future doesn't mean the company execs cannot. I'm not saying that Blockbuster is going to run over Netflix in 5 years or ever...but they sure as heck can see the Amazon monster coming over the horizon into their market and have to d
    • by scribblej ( 195445 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @09:29AM (#15065649)
      When blockbuster initially tried to compete with Nflix, the Nflix folks were a bit scared, including my buddy who was worried about the future of the company he helped develop - however, after Nflix's somewhat recent resurgence & increased user subscription, which in turn boosted the stock prices from all time lows, blockbuster has become a non-issue to Nflix (well at least to my buddy and most of the staff)

      You got something against E.T.?

      Eeeeeliiiiooooot...

  • I hereby claim the patent for pants where you hold the pants with your hands, then raise one leg, put your foot (the choice which it is is up to the user) into one of the trouser leg, pull that trouser leg up on your leg, shift the weight on the leg that you just put into the pants, lift the other leg, put your other foot into the second trouser leg and pull it up over your leg. then you pull it further past your butt and by some means of fastening you close them at the front.

    EVERYONE building pants that ca
    • So, will you have to reference Al Gore's patent on pants (he invented pants, right?)
      • Y'know, I really get tired of this right-wing bashing of Al Gore. Of course he didn't invent pants, but he was instrumental in getting funding for the original ARPANTS which is what our modern high-speed pants derived from. So, while he of course doesn't know the technical underpinnings of interfacing, serging, hemming, and button-holing needed to make pants, he can, in some sense, take credit for our modern pants.


  • This reminds me of when "all you can eat" salad bars where waitresses complain about the few annoying slobs that try to push things to the limit.

    Netflix has a good business model. The people who are complaining are the ones who get three DVD's, watch them or rip them, and send them back first thing in the morning only to repeat the cycle over and over again.

    Those people should get a life and stop watching so much television. How many DVD's can a normal household watch in a week, anyway?
  • Just add internet (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bhalter80 ( 916317 )
    It seems that as soon as you add the words internet or software people just lose any sence they had. If you asked someone if you could patent having cash registers at the front of the store instead of having someone follow you around charging you as you take things off the shelf they would tell you there is no way you could patent that. But now if you have some software in a virtual store that computes your bill once you've finished selecting which items you want that's patentable. This country really ne
  • by ami-in-hamburg ( 917802 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:57AM (#15065429)
    Well, at the time, NetFlix was new and innovative with their business model. Therefore, the patents were reasonable at the time. Just because something seems obvious now doesn't mean that it has always been obvious.

    IMHO, a time limit is needed for business model patents. I won't argue here how long they should be valid, just that they should have a reasonable expiration date. That way, the innovative company can cash in on their research and development for the time limit of their patent while still allowing competition in the market.

    Naturally, companies (and I assume politicians as well) won't like the idea of time limited business model patents but I think that is what would be best for the consumer.
  • by Tsu Dho Nimh ( 663417 ) <abacaxi.hotmail@com> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @09:05AM (#15065477)
    PRIOR ART! Netflix has patented the old mail-based "Subscription Library" model. In the USA, they were founded by Ben Franklin, who later went on to run the USPTO after the Revolution. Here's how the subscription libraries worked:

    In-town, one could stroll to the lending library (or send one's maid or footman) to return a book and pick up the next one on the list. It was a social occasion as well as a literary one. Subscription price varied depending on how many books you wanted to have in your posession at a time.

    Out of town patrons paid a subscription fee (higher to cover the cost of shipping) that depended on how many books they wanted to posess at a time (a few, up to dozens of them if you were going to India), handed over or mailed in their list and waited for the postman to deliver the books. When they were finished with the book/s, they sent it/them back and got the next batch on the list that was in stock.

  • While patenting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_Bionic_lemming ( 446569 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @09:42AM (#15065764)
    Did they also include a patent for slowing shipping down because you rent too many movies from them?

    After all, Unlimited isn't really unlimited with netflix.

    I'm leaving netflix To go to blockbuster - I guess people like me defecting is what really prompted the lawsuit. Instead of living up to the "Unlimited Rentals" they are going to sue everyone else out of existance.
  • by graffix_jones ( 444726 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @10:32AM (#15066293)
    I wonder if throttling is part of that business method that is patented.

    That would actually make it 'novel' and potentially patentable... I mean, who actually would think of a system of Unlimited rentals that was in fact Limited depending on whether or not the customer actually tried to use the service as if it were unlimited.

    Who here can show prior art where the word Unlimited actually means Limited.

    That actually sounds pretty novel to me.

    /me wipes the sarcasm off his lips...
  • by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @03:10PM (#15069480) Homepage Journal
    They have a patent for not charging latefees. WTF? That's the most insane thing I've ever heard. I'm going to patent cars that don't use internal combustion engines or batteries and then sue everyone when they try to make a fuel cell car, or any car that uses another technology that hasn't been invented.

    Brilliant.

    Although, since I'm not charging late fees right now I suppose I'm violating netflix patent.

FORTRAN is not a flower but a weed -- it is hardy, occasionally blooms, and grows in every computer. -- A.J. Perlis

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