Vivid, Penthouse, Adam & Eve, Bang Hit With Patent Suit

May 18, 2010 3:45 PM PST
MARSHALL, Texas — Four of the largest distributors of adult content are receiving court summons this week relative to a patent infringement case over video-indexing processes that use thumbnail images during DVD navigation.

Vivid Entertainment, Penthouse Digital, Adam & Eve and Bang Productions have been named to a suit filed by Houston-based Inmotion Imagery Technologies, a patent holding company that owns two inventions.

Inmotion also named to the suit some of the biggest names in mainstream, as well. Walt Disney Studios, New Line Home Entertainment, Magnolia Pictures, Anchor Bay Entertainment, Warner Bros. and the Weinstein Co. also are named in the complaint filed at U.S. District Court in Marshall, Texas.

The claim of patent infringement could raise the threshold of alarm throughout the adult industry and beyond because DVDs typically use introduction thumbnail video teasers under various categories that could be targeted by patent holder Inmotion.

Inmotion, in the suit, says the adult and mainstream companies haven't made deals to use the technology detailed in U.S. Patent No. 6,526,219. As a result, Inmotion has filed suit against the companies.

The invention, Inmotion says in the patent filing, relates "generally to video recording and, more particularly, to a system for storing and displaying thumbnail images representative of the contents of a video-recording medium, thereby enabling a user to locate a particular section rapidly and conveniently."

The federal court in Marshall is a popular one for patent lawsuits. Adult industry attorneys confide that quick trials and plaintiff-friendly juries are the big draw there. So are the Texas-sized verdicts sometimes handed to winners.

Patent cases are heard faster in Marshall than in many other courts, forcing some defendants to buckle under the pressure of time when trying to sort out complex infringement cases. And while only about five percent make it to trial in Marshall, patent holders win 78 percent of the time, compared with an average of 59 percent nationwide, according to LegalMetric, a company that tracks patent litigation.

A recent suit involving other adult companies also was filed in Marshall. But that suit, involving a dozen adult live-cam website operators, appears to have come apart with a number of companies dropped from the suit.

The infringement suit waged by Joao Control and Monitoring Systems targeted the adult biz's foremost blue-chip brands that have business in the live-cam space.

Included in the suit were 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. Joao later dropped from the suit Anabolic, Shane, New Destiny, LFP, GameLink, Evil Angel, ClubJenna and Vivid.

In the suit waged over video indexing using thumbnails, Inmotion is seeking damages and an injunction against the companies, as well as attorneys fees. U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Everingham IV has been assigned to the case.

The adult companies named in the suit have not yet responded to XBIZ by post time for comment.

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