Company Gets Patent On Digital Downloads; Sues Everyone

from the great dept

There's been quite a trend lately of companies who had otherwise completely failed in the marketplace to suddenly reinvent themselves as "patent licensing firms" and then go and sue everyone who actually was able to successfully innovate in the market. The latest entrant is Intertainer, a company that was fairly well known for a few bubble years, but was unable to find a real market for their online video distribution system. They blamed the movie industry for colluding against them (a lawsuit on that issue never went very far, nor did the antitrust investigation it helped trigger), but are taking it out on the tech industry. The company, which has long since been out of business, is back from the dead suing Google, Apple and Napster, claiming they all violate a patent the company holds on digital downloads. Go ahead and read through the patent and help us all understand what is new or non-obvious in the patent. The patent was filed (provisionally) in March of 2001, by which point it's hard to believe that the idea of distributing content electronically wasn't well known. I worked for a company in 1998 and 1999 that did many of the things described in the patent, and we were far from cutting edge at the time. The best comment in the article, though, goes to Eric Goldman, an expert in high tech law, who notes: "I have the same problem with this patent as so many of the patents of the dot-com boom days: I don't know what it means." Intertainer missed the market. It happens. It's a part of business. It would be nice if they could now leave those who succeeded alone to continue innovating, rather than wasting everyone's time and money on a pointless lawsuit over a silly patent.

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  1. identicon
    misanthropic humanist, 3 Jan 2007 @ 10:16am

    an quick analysis (and dismissal)

    "The present invention provides content suppliers"

    That's me, so I'm interested in this.

    "with a digital service platform"

    Hmm, digital service eh? The sampler I designed and built in 1982 fits this description fairly well, but let's read on...

    "for remotely depositing its media assets"

    I think they meant "their media assets" since "content suppliers" is in plaural, but let us not nitpick...

    Remotely depositing, like FTP then? Or better still like the RS232 based system I built in 1983 to carry early MIDI system exclusive data dumps of samples.

    "managing its media assets using business rules"

    Like a database?

    "to control the distribution of and revenue generated from the media assets"

    Like any ticket booking system around after 1991

    "and tracking consumer usage of its media assets"

    Like cookies.

    "to assist in consumer marketing decisions."

    As every web site owner since 1990 has done. Besides this is ambiguous, decisions made by or on behest of the "consumer", it is unclear.

    "Providers of digital services (such as multiple cable system operators (MSOs) or website operators; also referred to herein as "content users") seek to offer their customers a wide variety of compelling and diverse content."

    A complete falsehood. Many service providers focus on a very narrow preselected content - besides this is padding, it's nonsense that can be ignored because it is unsubstantiated opinion.

    "Because the present invention is an open platform designed to support multiple content suppliers, it allows consumers to access content in an aggregated manner similar to that of a traditional brick and mortar store. "

    This is the most tenuous shovel full of festering bunk in the whole paragraph.

    What open platform? How is it open? In what way is it designed to "support" multiple content providers (in a way that an ordinary website to which you can upload gif AND jpegs does not)

    Anything appearing on website or FTP server that comes from more than one source is by definition "aggregated". In what possible sense is this analogous to a "brick and mortar store". Define.

    "The present invention provides these content users with an integrated platform for managing and distributing such content to consumers."

    Integrating what? You need to define the components before asserting that the system "integrates" anything.

    "Consumers" has not been defined and there is no common sense notion of "consumer", applying classical network theory any node on the link may be both a source (provider) or sink (consumer) of packets.

    "The present invention further enables the content user to offer consumers content choices"

    Like a directory structure on any disk system going back to 1967?

    "grouped by understandable and desirable genres and categories."

    So, yes, just like a directory structure on any disk system going back to 1967.

    I give up on the rest of this, it's getting boring.

    This sorry excuse for an explanation offers nothing of any merit whatsoever. If it was an undergraduate project proposal I would fail the student. This is written by someone who clearly has no technical expertise in any relevant field and is attempting to use the broadest possible language to hide their lack of original thought.

    It is complete tripe.

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