You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Vidtailers escalate battle

Blockbuster goes after Netflix in countersuit

It’s getting ugly.

Blockbuster on Tuesday took aim at Netflix, countersuing the Netco and accusing it of monopolizing the online rental market.

Netco filed suit against Blockbuster in April after winning a second patent protecting its method of allowing consumers to queue DVD preferences and then shipping those DVDs by mail.

But in a blistering 39-page filing with the federal District Court in San Francisco, Blockbuster alleged that Netflix deliberately concealed evidence of previous online rental systems from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in applying for its original patent.

Blockbuster’s attorney, Marshall Grossman, said the company seeks damages for the effect of the lawsuit on Blockbuster’s biz, as well as legal fees, in addition to the invalidation of the patents.

Vidtailer said both patents were invalid because the company did not disclose to the patent office what’s known as “prior art” — or the previous rental systems. But even without that, Grossman said Blockbuster had a case because Netflix was trying to “monopolize this space on the Internet.”

According to a timeline included in the Blockbuster filing, Netflix was itself under threat of patent-infringement litigation from NCR Corp. over an online rental system well before its first patent was granted, but failed to disclose NCR’s claims to patent examiners.

Using notably direct language, Grossman told Daily Variety that the company believes the patents were baseless.

“Netflix did not invent the computer, they did not invent the Internet, but they do appear to want to control it,” he said. Referring to the patent for the queue system, he said, “Netflix wants to so corner the Internet that a kid would be in jeopardy if she submitted a wish list to Santa Claus.”

Netflix rep did not return a call Tuesday evening.

Blockbuster said it was fighting on behalf of any e-commerce company engaged in a similar system but that it has not yet decided to bring on other plaintiffs to its countersuit.

The vehemence of Blockbuster’s response, and the addition of the antitrust counterclaims, reflects the high stakes for Blockbuster. Without a significant online component, the company could be in serious trouble and likely would continue the earnings slump in which it has been mired over the last few quarters.

That slump was caused, in part, by Netflix, which has previously stated its desire to eliminate the physical rental biz, and its patents could do the same to competitors in the online rental arena.

No hearing date has been set for the lawsuit.

More Biz

  • Harvey Weinstein legal team

    Harvey Weinstein Loses Another Defense Lawyer

    Harvey Weinstein has lost another defense lawyer, just three months before he is set to go on trial for rape and sexual assault. Attorney Jose Baez told the judge overseeing the case that Weinstein had taken actions that made it difficult to represent him, according to a letter obtained by the New York Post. Baez [...]

  • https://pmcvariety.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/kindred_spirits_2019_v7.jpg

    Kindred Spirits Host Fundraiser for Child Refugees

    The Kids Entertainment Professionals for Young Refugees will host its third annual Kindred Spirits fundraising campaign this month on behalf of UNICEF and in coordination with World Refugee Day, which is Thursday. The grassroots, volunteer organization’s online fundraiser will take place from June 14-27, and 100% of every donation made will benefit UNICEF. “We call [...]

  • Vid Angel

    VidAngel Hit with $62.4 Million Judgment for Pirating Movies

    A jury on Monday ordered VidAngel to pay $62.4 million to Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros. for streaming hundreds of movies on its service without permission. The verdict is potentially a death blow to the Utah-based company, which sought to allow family audiences to watch Hollywood fare while skipping past violence, sex, and other objectionable [...]

  • Nicholas Sparks

    Nicholas Sparks Apologizes, Explains Opposition to LGBT Club

    Romance writer Nicholas Sparks issued an apology on Monday for remarks he made in 2013 opposing the formation of an LGBT club at his Christian school. In an email published last week by the Daily Beast, Sparks faulted Saul Benjamin, who was then the headmaster of the Epiphany School of Global Studies, for pushing an [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8 Production

    'Game of Thrones,' Netflix VFX Among Those to Be Featured in SIGGRAPH Production Talks

    VFX pros behind the final season of “Game of Thrones,” the blockbuster film “Avengers: Endgame,” Pixar’s upcoming “Toy Story 4,” last year’s Oscar-winning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Netflix series, including “Stranger Things,” and more will give SIGGRAPH 2019 attendees a behind-the-scenes look at their work during the conference’s Production Sessions. There will even be a [...]

  • welcome home Apple Ad

    Cannes Lions Takes Place in Time of Change for Ad World

    The ad industry gathers June 17-21 for its annual celebration of commercials, marketing and creativity, the Cannes Lions in the French Riviera. It does so against a backdrop of ongoing and profound upheaval within the world of advertising. The share prices of all the major ad groups, such as WPP, Publicis and Omnicom, are down [...]

  • R&B Singer Ann Marie Signs With

    R&B Singer Ann Marie Signs With Interscope Records (EXCLUSIVE)

    Chicago-based R&B singer-songwriter Ann Marie, known for her hit “Secret” with YK Osiris, has signed with Interscope Records, the company announced exclusively to Variety today. “Ann Marie is the prototype for today’s artist,” says Nicole Wyskoarko, the label’s EVP of urban operations. “She’s developed and cultivated a dedicated fan base using the tools of today [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content