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Redbox sues WB over release window

Lawsuit similar to claims against Universal, Fox

Backed by court approval to proceed with an antitrust suit against Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Redbox threw another punch at the major studios, suing Warner Home Video on similar grounds.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Delaware, is in response to Warner’s move last week to delay selling titles to the largest U.S. movie-rental kiosk operator until four weeks after their street date. Universal and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment are imposing similar delays on Redbox and other DVD rental kiosk operators. Redbox also is suing Fox. The three studios represented a combined 40% of the DVD rental market, according to Rentrak.

Coinstar-owned Redbox called the suit an effort to “protect consumers’ rights to access” to new titles. “Warner Home Video’s actions come at the expense of consumers,” Mitch Lowe, president of Redbox, said in a statement.

Executives at Warner couldn’t immediately be reached.

Redbox on Monday got a greenlight from U.S. District Court judge Robert Kugler to pursue its lawsuit against Universal on antitrust grounds. The judge did grant Universal dismissal of counts related to copyright misuse and interference with Redbox’s business relationships with vid wholesalers Ingram Entertainment and VPD.

Like the earlier two actions, Redbox’s new suit against Warner charges the studio with copyright misuse, tortious interference with business relationships and multiple antitrust violations. As in the other actions, the retailer is seeking injunctive relief and monetary damages.

(Danny King and Marcy Magiera are reporters for Daily Variety sister publication Video Business.)

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