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, 4 Jan 2007 @ 10:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Patentable material

    Okay now we're getting to the bottom of it.

    Someone "stole your idea" and the anger lives on.

    If I had a penny for every "patentable" idea that someone "stole" from me I'd be able to buy a double whopper with extra cheese too.

    In the end I leaned to suck it up and accept humbly that:

    1) They probably didn't steal it. Most likely they arrived at the same place through their own hard work and research. There is nothing to exclude duplication of endeavour in the real world, which is one of the reasons the patent system doesn't really work - it only rewards the guy with the money and means to file first. The television and telephone are both good examples of this synchronicity occuring.

    2) They went one step further and actually took the risk of making a product or business on that idea. Kudos to them.

    3) Someone owning a legitimate patent on an idea that you honestly arrived at independently VALIDATES you as a creative person and inventor. Big up yourself because you are at least as good as them.

    4) If the what you claim is true then how did the patent system protect you? I suspect you have actually been screwed over by the broken system and should be rallying on the same side as myself against this unfair situation.

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