Thursday, 04 January 2007 20:25

Intertainer sues Google, Apple and Napster for video patent infringement

As far back as 1997, Intertainer founder Jonathan T. Taplin stated that one day all movie and video distribution would happen through the Internet, and started a company to do just that. Although it closed in 2002 despite hundreds of thousands of customers, Interntainer still holds key patents that are being used to sue major online video distributors.

In the mid-to-late 90s, broadband was still unavailable for most users, most of whom were still stuck on dial-up. But ten years later, broadband, while not quite ubiquitous, is available to many hundreds of millions of users globally, and the delivery of everything from low quality video, high quality video and illegal video downloads happens every second of every day.

Interestingly, although Intertainer closed operations in 2002, it still exists as a paper company with a board, and 9 of the patents Interntainer applied for were granted in 2005. One of the patents in question revolves around uploading and downloading video content, and the patents in general are more than enough, Intertainer believes, to win a court battle.

It’s also interesting to note that companies such as Microsoft and Intel were original backers of the company, although Interntainer claim they have had no involvement in the decision to sue Apple, Google and Napster, and haven’t had any involvement for years.

What this does highlight, to some degree, is the ridiculousness of some of the patents that are granted. How is it possible to patent the uploading and downloading of information? Even items such as a one-click system, famously patented by Amazon, seem totally ridiculous on the face of it, when these are actions that people perform every day, most without any knowledge of the fact that the process they are using has been patented and is ‘owned’ by someone.

Whether Intertainer’s patent challenge will succeed is anyone’s guess. Given that it’s being fought in the most litigious nation on Earth, the USA, anything is possible. Just as long as it doesn’t stop me, or anyone else, from downloading all the video we could possibly want, or adding to the cost of it!

See the New York Times for more information.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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