April 06, 2006

On Tuesday, Netflix Inc. sued Blockbuster, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that Blockbuster has infringed two of its patents related to DVD rental subscriptions. Netflix obtained U.S. Patent No. 6,584,450 ("Method and apparatus for renting items") in June of 2003, and was awarded U.S. Patent No. 7,024,381 ("Approach for renting items to customers") on the same date it filed suit against blockbuster (April 4th). This more recent patent claims a "computer-implemented method for renting movies to customers," comprising the display of digital information regarding movie attributes, establish a "movie rental queue" including at least two movies associated with a particular customer, delivering a number of movies to the customer, allowing the customer to then select additional movies, thus updating the customer's movie queue. Netflix and Blockbuster are competitors in the DVD subscription service market, with Netflix offering its service since 1999 and Blockbuster since 2004.

U.S. Patent No. 6,584,450: LINK
U.S. Patent No. 7,024,381: LINK
Reuters News Story: LINK


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