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Public Discussions

GreenCine General
Have suggestions, criticism or praise for the GreenCine community? Post them here. Please maintain a sense of decorum here.

N*tFl*x Patent?
Topic by: RHorsman
Posted: June 24, 2003 - 8:59 AM PDT
Last Reply: July 6, 2003 - 11:01 AM PDT

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author topic: N*tFl*x Patent?
post #1  on June 24, 2003 - 8:59 AM PDT  
Hi guys. Just saw this article about NF being granted a patent on online subscription based DVD rentals. Any reaction? Seems a ludricrous granting to me, but it's been well established that the USPTO is chock full of idiots.
post #2  on June 24, 2003 - 10:32 AM PDT  
I agree totally - it is ludicrous. To quote an astute writer at Slashdot:

"What secrets are they (N*tfl*x) keeping that the public will benefit from the exposure of on their patent application?"

"None. It's bleeding obvious, and the first time you hear of it, it's obvious how to implement it, even by lemonade stand-level businesspeople."

Sadly, this is one among many recently granted patents that seem to defy common sense (who's working over at the patent office anyway?!?). What's worse is that Netflix could (and probably will) use this patent to extract money from competitors (Wal-mart and Greencine included) or simply try to shut them down altogether.

Don't get me wrong - I hope I'm incorrect. Over the last three months, I've been blown away by Greencine's catalog and customer support in comparison with Netflix. I can't imagine who I would rent my anime from if Greencine were gone! :) I would hate to see anything happen to Greencine, but I fear that Netflix will look to turn their patent into cashflow to try to pull their company out of the red.
post #3  on June 24, 2003 - 2:26 PM PDT  
Cut and paste from the US Patent and Trademark Office:
>United States Patent 6,584,450
Hastings , et al. June 24, 2003

Method and apparatus for renting items

According to a computer-implemented approach for renting items to customers, customers specify what items to rent using item selection criteria separate from deciding when to receive the specified items. According to the approach, customers provide item selection criteria to a provider provides the items indicated by the item selection criteria to customer over a delivery channel. The provider may be either centralized or distributed depending upon the requirements of a particular application. A "Max Out" approach allows up to a specified number of items to be rented simultaneously to customers. A "Max Turns" approach allows up to a specified number of item exchanges to occur during a specified period of time. The "Max Out" and "Max Turns" approaches may be used together or separately with a variety of subscription methodologies. <

My take:
The press release mades it sound like Fetflix is now ready to sue anyone on the DVD rental business. I say: BULL!

From the description above, it seems that this patent is on the algorithm that Netflix uses to allocate disc to customers. Netflix cannot sue anyone unless they can proof that the others are using EXACTLY the same algorithm.
post #4  on June 24, 2003 - 3:24 PM PDT  
I wonder if this is an attack on W*l-M*rt's DVD rental business?
post #5  on June 24, 2003 - 5:34 PM PDT  
All I know is that I will NEVER EVER be a netflix customer again if they pursue this agains greencine!!! I would some day join Netflix again, when $$ permits, but not if they pursue this.

post #6  on June 24, 2003 - 5:52 PM PDT  
First reaction is my usual: Yet another bunch of mutherf**kers to go up against the wall cum da revolution.

Except that we lost. That is as plain as Abbie Hoffman's grave. It is up to the next generation now to overthrow the IP Nazis. Godspeed, youngbloods, godspeed. We will keep the homefires burning and assist what we can.
post #7  on June 24, 2003 - 6:44 PM PDT  
Ok, let me think this out... 2 hundred years ago CIRCULATING LIBRARYS begin a maximum number of books out and then begin to fine people if they are late. 20 years ago VIDEO STORES begin renting videos for a fee and charge late fees. 3 years ago DVDS are rented online for a fee and no late charges. And someone is claiming the concept as "intelluctual property"???

:::::in best Lewis Black voice, pointing fingers and shaking violently:::: "OHHHHH THE HORROR!!!" the only difference I see is they don't charge a late fee. THAT'S IT.... CHARGE A LATE FEE!!

Time for me to have some vodka and a NYQUIL chaser to help bring me back to reality.
post #8  on June 24, 2003 - 7:33 PM PDT  
Sounds like GC need to get it's own patent. I wonder if anyone will file a class action suit against Netflix for monopolizing the market? Monopolies are still against the law aren't they? Anybody have any friends in the American Civil Liberties Union?
post #9  on June 24, 2003 - 7:37 PM PDT  
Next will be Blockbuster patenting this thing called the 'video rental'. :(

post #10  on June 24, 2003 - 7:47 PM PDT  
why can someone patent this? lending libraries all over the world charge periodic fees and have "number of items out" limits. the patent is the borrower acting as the librarian? so, if i shush myself while i'm browsing, i have to pay NF a dollah. i promise never to do that.
post #11  on June 24, 2003 - 8:01 PM PDT  
I had a feeling they would try this stunt. I've a mind to quit NF. They have monopoly attitude: think BG of MS....
post #12  on June 24, 2003 - 8:49 PM PDT  
An interesting thing a friend told me: agents at the patent office have to fill a quota. Of course this is just what he told me. I haven't verified it.
post #13  on June 25, 2003 - 7:21 AM PDT  
People are taking this one patent issued to NetFlix too seriously. Patent 101 says: You cannot patent an idea, only the implementation of an idea. The business model of "video rental through online subscription" is an idea, so it cannot be patented. Only the implementation of this idea, such as the algorithm to decide which disc goes to which customer, can be patented.

Therefore, just because Netflix has one patent issued on their implementation does not stop others from being in the same "video rental through online subscription" business.

Here's an example: Intel probably has hundreds if not thousands of patents issued on the implementation of microprocessors. That does no stop others from making microprocesses, as long as their implementation is substantially different from what Intel has patented.
post #14  on June 25, 2003 - 8:39 AM PDT  
Sorry, I made a mistake in my previous post. It seems that the USPTO does allow "Business Model" to be patented. Two recent well-known examples are:

- claims to have invented the business model of "online reverse auction" (what we old-timers have been doing in Usenet "marketplace" newsgroups 20 years ago)

- claims to own the patent rights of "One-click Online Shopping" (Oh Geez, what will they think of next?)

But as we can see, just because they were granted business model patents did not prevent other companies (e-bay, Barnes&Nobel, etc.) from being in the same business.
post #15  on June 25, 2003 - 10:09 AM PDT  
> On June 24, 2003 - 7:33 PM PST EllyS wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> ...Monopolies are still against the law aren't they?
It appears that they have not been illegal since about 1980 and the last signs of civilization in the U.S. was destroyed. A long process that probably about the time of the coup of 1963.
post #16  on June 25, 2003 - 10:15 AM PDT  
The most ignored part of patent law today is that a patent must be for an invention that is "novel and not obvious". I pray that some one with the backing to fight this nonsense can be some prior art (before Netflix claim to the process) although I would rather see it dimissed as an obvious thang.

The E.U. is consider banning business processese from being patented. Sound like a great idea to me. Otherwise, I am going to take about a copyright on the commerical at sign ("@") and demand a dollar for every use. I promise to half of all profits and then every penny after the first billion to the A.C.L.U. and ABBA for President 2004 (ABBA-Anybody But Bush Again).
post #17  on June 25, 2003 - 10:17 AM PDT  
Oh, and typo's. The process of typo's should be patentable rather than copyrighted, right. I am a master at them and in novel ways, too!.
post #18  on June 25, 2003 - 10:31 AM PDT  
a couple years ago some very funny sports radio talk show host declared that he had patented the word "character" as a way to describe players who lost with dignity. he figured he'd be a millionaire by the end of the week.
post #19  on June 25, 2003 - 12:03 PM PDT  
As have our many GC members, we GreenCine staffers have been reading over the press hoopla regarding this story over the last couple of days. We just like to say that GreenCine is going to be around for a long time as the best place to rent DVDs online. And there's a reason why we started up with the philosophy of community, service and appreciation for movies we have. That's all for now.

best regards--

Dennis Woo
Managing Partner, GreenCine

post #20  on June 25, 2003 - 12:17 PM PDT  
Sir, you and your business rock.

> On June 25, 2003 - 12:03 PM PST Dwoodwoo wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> As have our many GC members, we GreenCine staffers have been reading over the press hoopla regarding this story over the last couple of days. We just like to say that GreenCine is going to be around for a long time as the best place to rent DVDs online. And there's a reason why we started up with the philosophy of community, service and appreciation for movies we have. >
> ---------------------------------

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