Friday, May 28, 2010

Did Warner Bros. Pirate Antipiracy Technology?

Fri May 21, 2010 @ 01:52PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Warner Bros. has been sued for stealing an antipiracy technology patent.

The claim comes from a German company called Medien Patent Verwaltung. According to new infringement lawsuits filed against Warners, Technicolor and Deluxe in New York and Germany, MPV says that in 2003, it introduced the studio to a method of marking films with a distinctive code so it could track back sources of piracy to the exact theater in which an unauthorized copy originated. MPV says it has been trying to get Warners to pay for use of the technology since it allegedly began incorporating the invention in prints throughout Europe in 2004.

“We disclosed our anti-piracy technology to Warner Bros. in 2003 at their request, under strict confidentiality, expecting to be treated fairly," MPV says in a statement. "Instead, they started using our technology extensively without our permission and without any accounting to us. However, we had taken care to obtain patents to protect MPV's technology, and we are now in a position where we must assert our rights.”

Warner Bros. declines to comment on the dispute. But we've discovered that MPV made a little mistake in its New York lawsuit.

The patent that MPV cites in its complaint is 7,187,633, entitled "Motion Picture and Anti-Piracy Coding."

But our search of the patent records reveals that patent number has another title: "Marking of a Data Medium Material for Information Intended for Reproduction." There is another patent entitled "Motion Picture and Anti-Piracy Coding." The assignee? You guessed it: Warner Bros.

Did the Germans accidentally steal the title of Warners' own patent when suing the studio for stealing?

The answer appears to be yes. Reached for comment, New York attorney Richard Garbarini, representing the plaintiffs, admits the error and says he will file an amended complaint.

In the meantime, there's still the larger issue of whether a major studio stole technology to help it prevent people from stealing its movies.

The Hollywood Reporter

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