01:01 AM

1.3.07: Video on demand pioneer sues Apple, Google

One Jonathan T. Taplin, who once had a video on demand company called Intertainer - and before that served as Bob Dylan's road manage and produced Mean Streets and The Last Waltz - is claiming in a lawsuit that Apple, Google and Napster are infringing Intertainer's patents, The Times reports.

The company holds nine patents, including United States Patent No. 6,925,469, which was issued in 2005 and is intended to cover the management and distribution of digital media from various suppliers.

The suit is being filed in a federal district court in Texas that is friendly to patent claims, but a patent date of 2005 seems awfully late, reporters John Markoff and Miguel Helft note.

By that time, for example, Real Networks, the Seattle-based pioneer in streaming digital media, had begun a Internet subscription service for digital content.

The article quotes Eric Goldman, director of the High-Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University, who seems a bit weary of all these patent infringement claims.

"There are so many of these lawsuits nowadays, it is hard to figure out which ones are a serious threat and which one are not."

"I have the same problem with this patent as so many of the patents of the dot-com boom days: I don't know what it means," Goldman said.