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Netflix sued for "optimizing interest potential"

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 28 Oct 2007 0:22 User comments (13)

Netflix sued for "optimizing interest potential" Refined Reccomendation Corporation has filed a lawsuit against Netflix claiming that the internet DVD rental service is infringing on a patent for "Optimizing interest potential." Essentially what that means is that the patent covers any system that categorizes items, tracks user interest based on those categories, and makes suggestions based on that analysis.
The patent can be boiled down to a single drawing on file with the patent office. The drawing clearly shows that categories can be either very broad or very detailed; something that attorneys will no doubt point out is hardly innovative if this makes it to trial. In fact it's highly unlikely a single etailer has ever consulted this patent before coming to the conclusion that they might be able to make recommendations for customers. Certainly the brick and mortar retailers who came up with similar ideas before the a single online sale was ever made.

There have already been a number of high profile lawsuits by what have come to be known in some circles as patent trolls; companies whose sole revenue source is patent royalties - often from questionable patents. Not surprisingly these companies are some of the most vocal opponents of the patent reform bills being considered in the U.S. Congress. However, the result of this case could have serious implications for internet commerce as one of the key components of online shopping services could suddenly become much more expensive to operate.

Many ecommerce sites that offer suggestions to customers will be watching with a lot of interest If Netflix doesn't put up a fight in court there will almost certainly be more suits filed.

You can find all the filings in this case, including the patent documents, at Justia.com.

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13 user comments

128.10.2007 19:34

Whats next?

Some else suing because they patented the process of registering domain names? As a result every time a domain is issued, no matter what source, a patent "royalty" would have to be paid out?

Cases like this make the "Pirate Party" and its ideas such as no (or very tightly regulated) copyrights and patents more and more appealing.

228.10.2007 20:12

If a design is so easy to do and feels right then how can it be protected from common sense?

why 140 year patents of coarse lets protect logic and common sense from the masses!

329.10.2007 2:27

lawyers are like a leach to society they latch on to a company a suck them dry

we need to close 75% of the law schools in this country. would equal less leaches to society

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 29 Oct 2007 @ 2:27




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429.10.2007 7:59

Why? No matter screw up my internet shopping at discounted prices and ill make sure i screw you up...Fools.

Every were you go theres somebody always trying to earn a quick buck.

529.10.2007 10:32

Hasnt Amazon.com been using a similar technique longer than NetFlix? Sounds to me like one of NetFlix's competitors (Blockbuster maybe?) are trying to get them out of business.

629.10.2007 11:00

Actually the patent in this case is owned by an individual who's apparently a well known patent troll and patent troll advocate, and managed by the licensing company that filed the suit. I suspect that Netflix is a warmup for future lawsuit plans because the Netflix system follows the basic diagram (patents for dummies you know) very closely.

It was nice of him to clearly diagram the obviousness of this patent though. If I were defending Netflix in court I have to think that would be my key piece of evidence. If this patent does indeed indicate the invention of this type of marketing though, I have to wonder why no patent is available for the time machine that must have been used to spread the word to small mail order companies in years past ;)

729.10.2007 12:05

This is so ridiculous. Guess you can patent anything. I want to patent the left mouse click button!

829.10.2007 13:00

can I sue for registering a patent if I make registering patent registered through the patent office the I get a piece of everyones pie? really this sounds like someone didnt get their movie on time and was charged a late fee...... lol

91.11.2007 17:25

Would this not be just normal competition practices.

103.11.2007 1:34

I'm still waiting for someone to sue because they invented putting ham and cheese between two slices of bread, AKA the Sandwich. LOL.

113.11.2007 14:23

lol yeah people want to sue for anything

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 03 Nov 2007 @ 14:23




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122.5.2008 14:18

Originally posted by BludRayne:
This is so ridiculous. Guess you can patent anything. I want to patent the left mouse click button!
I was thinking of a patent for putting the brake pedal of a car to the left of the accelerator pedal. But I think the company mentioned in the article beat me to it. <darn>

132.5.2008 14:33

Originally posted by ZoSoIV:
lawyers are like a leach to society they latch on to a company a suck them dry

we need to close 75% of the law schools in this country. would equal less leaches to society

@Zoso, but Shakespear beat you to it

Quote:
"First we kill all the lawyers"

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