Who Is “Multi-Format Inc”?

Apple Sued for the Sale of Video Programming on iTunes (Jack Purcher / Patently Apple) http://j.mp/bMbZK7 http://techme.me/A5Fo
20 minutes ago via Techmeme

That’s the tweet from TechMeme that alerted me to the “news.”

The lawsuit appears to be concerning the sale and enabling of downloaded video content like movies and HDTV programming on iTunes to all of Apple’s hardware including the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. Multi-Format Inc., is seeking a “reasonable royalty” from Apple and has further asked the court to consider tripling the damages accessed if the damages are not found by a jury – according to the inclusion of sub-section 284 of the U.S. legal Code found in their complaint.

I read the piece, which is straight reporting of the event: it gives details about the contents of the filing. Then I went to the three articles TechMeme listed under “discussion”:

None provided any additional info not available in the Patently Apple post. I was asking myself how the heck anyone could patent an FTP or HTTP process. None of these analysts spoke at all about the possible merits of the case.

So I googled “Multi-Format Inc”.

The fifth entry was, I thought, relevant: Multi-Format Inc dropped a DVD patent infringement case it had filed against retailers. The year? 2004.

Then I subtracted “Apple” from the search query. More interesting stuff the from bio of David T. Yang of Morrison Foerster:

Multi-Format, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc.

Member of legal team that represented 12 major retailers in joint defense of litigation brought by Multi-Format, Inc., over DVD technology. Worked closely with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to search for and analyze prior art references that were used to support invalidity arguments against the Multi-Format patent claims. Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed its complaint.

I realize that one example does not mean that this case is frivolous. However. On the surface, this lawsuit looks like a poster child for critics of America’s current economic system: one where lawyers (and lobbyists) facilitate the movement of money from one company to another without actually contributing to economic growth.

I’ll leave the discussion of intellectual property to another day.

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