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Summary:

Those of us who covered digital media and entertainment way back are very familiar with Intertainer, the high-profile movie download company…

Those of us who covered digital media and entertainment way back are very familiar with Intertainer, the high-profile movie download company that fizzled along with so many other companies too far ahead of the broadband curve. (Backers included Comcast, Microsodt and Intel.) Intertainer had 125,000 internet subs and 35,000 tv subs when it ceased operations in 2002 and switched to, well, lawsuits, first suing several of the studios that backed rival Movielink and most recently Google, Apple and Napster. The Movielink suit was settled last March. Taplin is now trying to develop a licensing busines from a handful of patents, hence the lawsuit filed last week against the three tech companies claiming infringement on a 2005 patent covering commercial audio and video distribution. Theodore Stevenson, a Dallas lawyer whose firm is representing Intertainer, told the NYT those three were chosen because they are market leaders in downloads. He also said the patent covers uploads and downloads. The suit was filed in a federal district court in Texas.
Eric Goldman, director of the High-Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law, told the NYT it was unclear just what was covered by the Intertainer patent in question. It’s described in the patent application as “a system for managing and marketing digital media content supplied by a plurality of media content suppliers to a plurality of consumers.”
Variety: “Suit was filed in the eastern district of Texas. Though neither plaintiff nor defendants are headquartered in Texas, the eastern district reportedly has become a popular place to file patent infringement suits, due to local procedures that give plaintiffs a higher-than-average success rate.”
If Intertainer succeeds — and that’s as big an if as a movie download service was in 1996 — these aren’t the only three companies that will feel the pain. Don’t look for an easy resoultion to this one altough Apple did just give in on a patent claim made by Creative Technology.
Related: Content-Related Patents Granted Recently
Movielink Does Not Violate Anti-Trust
Was Intertainer’s Failure a Studio Plot?
Online Movie Service Intertainer to Shut Site

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  1. I am wondering how different is downloading a movie online versus downloading a still picture or a text file.
    As I understand the technology that makes it possible to upload or download any digital content is described in the File Transfer Protocol and probably in the TCP/IP protocol on how digital data is handed. I would want to know if the patent for downloading a movie is specific in terms of the file size and how that is handled etc or is it a Business process patent.
    Anyone have any insight?

  2. Here's a VoD site that works….

    http//tesla.liketelevision.com

    We've been at it since 1999 with a
    library of classic movies, TV shows,
    vintage commercials and politically
    incorrect cartoons…all available for
    streaming free (ad supported). A premium
    membership strips the ads, allows full screen,
    and allows for unlimited downloads.

    Enjoy,

    Jim

  3. All these tech patents on processes that illustrate a database, a network, users, media and data transfering should be thrown out. It sounds to me, that if they win this – that every single site that uses these elements could be sued.

    Is this our future? A world of licensing fees payed out to companies that don't do anything but sit on a portfolio of patents and a team of lawyers – targeting their legal guns on down the long tail of media distribution?

    Talk about an innovation killer. How many people will skip developing the "next thing" due to fear of being sued, or falling into a situation where your innovation can't get funding because a Patent exists.

    Intertainer – if you want to play, launch a service and compete, don't sit around sueing progress.

    – Gideon

  4. what amazes me is the patent system should differentiate real world practices and their digital reformulations. was there a novel innovation about producers depositing their products to some retail systems and tracking their sale figures? whether it was done with paper and pencils or with web-based databases, the fact is still the same, it has been practiced for a long-long time.

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