Apple, Google, and Napster have yet another lawsuit headed their way.  This time, it’s from a now defunct video-on-demand company called Intertainer.  At one point, Intertainer was backed by investors including Intel, Microsoft, Sony, NBC, and Comcast.  So, what is this lawsuit about? Intertainer is claiming that the three above mentioned companies are infringing on their 2005 patent (possible patent application here). Their patent covers commercial distribution of audio and video over the Internet.

The founder of Intertainer, Jonathan T. Taplin, claims that the company was the “leader of the idea of entertainment on demand over Internet platforms before Google was even thought up.” Pictured above is a direct mail promotion which at one point, was mailed out by Intertainer. Back in 1996 when Intertainer was first started, Mr. Taplin worked with Hollywood executives to distribute movies on demand. This was done via cable and phone lines and could be viewed on TV or computers.

While their patent covers “digital media content,” it does so very generally. Also important to note is that their patent wasn’t filed until 2005! The New York Times has reason to believe that Intertainer might have a difficult time with this patent suit because it was filed so recently. They stopped their operations in 2002, and now operate only as a patent holding company.

There are other companies that use technology similar to what Apple, Google, and Napster do. Examples would be Yahoo and AOL, yet they aren’t mentioned in the lawsuit because Intertainer was likely going after the three most influential companies, or they could have possibly reached agreements with the others.

This reminds me too much of Microsoft’s attempt to patent feed readers. Some of these companies are going off the deep end with their patent lawsuits!

Source: Search Engine Land [via New York Times]