Playboy's Websites the Target of Patent Infringement Lawsuit

LOS ANGELES - Playboy Enterprises is involved in a patent infringement lawsuit over U.S. Patent No. 5,721,832 due to the method in which it sells its various products online.

The suit, filed on Aug. 15 at the U.S. District Court in Chicago by Furnace Brook LLC, is primarily seeking reasonable royalty for the use of its technology, as well as monetary damages and attorney's fees.

"Furnace Brook, who possesses the ‘832 patent,' put forth roughly 200 demands with many mainstream and adult online ordering sites for licensing within the past four years," attorney George C. Summerfield of the Chicago-based law firm Stadheim and Grear who is representing Furnace Brook told AVN Online. "The company currently has more than 70 licensed users of its patent across all industries. We didn't prioritize against Playboy simply because it was an adult company." 

Summerfield explained that they are looking for specific elements and features provided by online retail sites, including graphical catalog data, payment information and more.

"Furnace Brook sent out an initial infringement notification letter to Playboy in hopes of resolving the issue, but they didn't respond," Summerfield added.

Representatives for Playboy were not immediately available for comment.

Furnace Brook brought several other companies to court over ‘832,' according to court filings, including Spiegel, Orbitz and Anna's Linens. The suits against those companies were dropped by Furnace Brook upon licensing of the patent.

The case against the Adult Defense Group continues at U.S. District Court in San Jose.