Live-cam Patent Suit Is Amended

Apr 14, 2010 8:00 AM PST
MARSHALL, Texas — The holding company that is suing 12 adult live-cam operators over the alleged use of its patent amended and narrowed its complaint on Tuesday.

Joao Control and Monitoring Systems claims the companies are allegedly infringing on U.S. Patent No. 7,277,010 by making, using or selling video monitoring and communications apparatus that authorizes surfers to view live streaming video using usernames and passwords.

According to the amended complaint, Joao's patent relates to (1) receiving video information with a processing device, (2) receiving a signal from a communication device with the processing device, (3) processing the received signal, (4) determining whether transmission of the video information to the communication device is authorized, and (5) transmitting the video information to the communication device over the Internet if it is determined that the communication device is authorized.

The infringement suit, filed in November, targets such blue-chip brands as Playboy Enterprises, Penthouse Media Group, LFP Internet Group, FriendFinder’s Steamray Inc., Vivid Entertainment, Playboy's ClubJenna unit, Anabolic Video Productions, Evil Angel Productions, New Destiny Internet Group, Shane Enterprises and Private Media Group’s GameLink.

The amended complaint, which was short on specific mechanisms that trigger authorizations over the web, called Playboy's system “... the most advanced and most established free live video chat service on the Internet. [It] combine[s] state of the art technology with beautiful female and male performers from around the world in order to provide [its] users with the most diverse, realistic and intimate interactive live video chat online.”

The amended complaint was spurred by U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis, who said the original complaint contained 264 claims and was "unmanageable." He asked for "some greater specificity" if the case were to continue.

Many adult industry observers say that Joao's patent litigation threat is meek, but nevertheless the suit could be costly as attorneys fees mount defending what suits waged by what some call "patent trolls" — companies that don't appear to create or sell any products described in its patents.

So far, the defendants have asked the judge to dismiss Joao’s claims for inducing and contributory infringement because Joao does not plead the necessary legal elements. But the defendants don't expressly state that they are not moving to dismiss Joao’s claims for direct infringement.

Davis already has granted the defendants' partial motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

According to Joao's suit, the allegedly infringing websites include AnabolicLive.com, HomeGrownCams.com, VividLive.com, PlayboyLive.com, EvilAngelLive.com, GameLinkLive.com, SpiceLive.com, Penthouse.com, AdultFriendFinder.com, HustlerLive.com, True.com, ShanesWorldLive.com, WooMe.com and ClubJennaLive.com.

In related news, Joao has dropped mainstream company True Beginnings from the case. Woo Media is the last remaining mainstream company named in the complaint.

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