Hustler, Playboy Among Companies Named in Lawsuit

Tyler, Texas - Digital Reg is asking a court to order Hustler, Playboy and other businesses to stop providing digital content on websites using its patented technology without paying for it.


Digital Reg, located in Marshall, Texas, is seeking a permanent injunction against and monetary damages from Hustler, Playboy, LFP Inc. and other media and technology companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Sony and Blockbuster.


The lawsuit, filed Oct. 5 in a federal district court in eastern Texas, claims that the companies are infringing on Digital Reg's patent for "regulating access to digital content." The suit claims that the defendants are "willful and deliberate" in infringing on the patented technology, which causes "irreparable harm" to Digital Reg.


The companies are doing so by "making, using, providing, offering to sell and selling (directly or through intermediaries) ... digital content incorporating digital-rights-management technology," Digital Reg claims.


Attorneys for both sides of the lawsuit did not immediately return requests for comment.


According to a description from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, digital rights management acts an a type of intermediary for sites providing digital content - including movies, pictures and songs - but at a cost. The technology allows sites to authorize payment in real time through a separate server computer and transmit that approval to the original site. If approval is received, the host computer will activate and lock transmission of the content to the customer's computer.


U.S. Patent 6,389,541, known as the "541 patent," was issued to Digital Reg on May 14, 2002.