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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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  • 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.
  • 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".
  • by SamuraiMike ( 768946 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:20AM (#15065199)

    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.

  • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:23AM (#15065225)
    So what if they're copying your business methods - thats called competition.

    Nobody that uses patents as their business model wants competition. Just ask Tom Woolston.

    Hint. He's a patent attorney, who loves to be his own customer.

  • by ktappe ( 747125 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @09:12AM (#15065530)
    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 the treatment of corporations as legal entities that really opened this can of worms we're into now.


  • blockbuster (Score:2, Informative)

    by douglasamcintyre ( 964522 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @09:25AM (#15065622)
    I make a case for a Blockbuster bankruptcy here. The Netflix thing just makes it worse. []
  • by Respawner ( 607254 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @10:11AM (#15066075)
    Actually we don't have to wait,there was a story about a lawsuit like this. A federal circuit court held that mere thinking violates the patent, it was about a patented fact. 16207 [] on.html?ex=1300424400&en=9addb806498d2739&ei=5088& partner=rssnyt&emc=rss []
  • by LunaticTippy ( 872397 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:10AM (#15066645)
    My library allows me to check out 10 DVDs at a time. I can place holds online for as many DVDs as I want, but I only get 10 at a time. They have had this system since the 90s.
  • by volsung ( 378 ) <> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:58PM (#15068703)
    That's formally the rule, but patents still get issued, since the patent examiners do not have enough time to carefully evaluate every patent. It also doesn't help that the job of the patent writer is to torture English to its breaking point while describing their invention.

    See the end of this section [] for links to recent perpetual motion machine patents.

  • by Fubari ( 196373 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:17PM (#15072176)
    Right, not patentable :-)
    This looks like a recipe to me... []

    Now, with a more desireable mouth melt! mmmmm :-)

    Yeah, 1987 is old, but I wanted a cookie example unrelated to "non-obvious inventions" about persisting web-browser session state.

    United States Patent: 4,664,921
    Seiden, May 12, 1987

    "Dual-textured cookie products containing narrow melting range shortenings"

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION "Traditionally, fresh homebaked cookes have exhibited a slightly crisp outer surface texture and a chewy, more ductile interior, while commercially prepared cookies have exhibited only a single texture, in most cases relatively hard and crisp. A recent development in the cookie industry is a storage-stable, crumb continuous dual texture cookie which closely approximates homemade yet does not deteriorate when stored in a warehouse or on a store shelf for reasonable periods of time.

    Abstract "This invention comprises crumb-continuous cookie products having distributed therein discrete regions of storage-stable crisp texture and discrete regions of storage-stable chewy texture in which the crisp regions contain a shortening having an SCl at C. of from about 14.0 to about 20.0 and an SCl at C. of from about 0.0 to about 8.0 and the chewy regions contain a shortening having an SCl at C. of from about 12.0 to about 18.0 and an SCl at C. of below about 2.0. The shortening system having these melting characteristics provides a more tender crumb texture, more desirable mouthmelt and dissipation and better flavor display in the cookie."

    Recipe Excerpt "The use of beta prime stable shortening for cookies, while not essential to the production of an acceptable cookie, is greatly preferred. If a shortening which is unstable in the beta prime form, for example, partially hydrogenated Canola oil, is used, the initially small beta prime crystals will gradually transform into large and higher melting agglomerates of beta crystals. The high melting large and grainy beta crystals detrimentally affect the taste and mouthmelt of the cookie. To produce cookies with good mouthmelt and dissipation and flavor display that will retain these characteristics under adverse storage conditions, it is greatly preferred that the solid glycerides present remain predominantly in the beta-prime form."

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it is too dark to read.