MPAA says Real's patent attempt saps RealDVD argument

Movie studios allege patent application filed by RealNetworks proves company misled the court about circumventing copy protection measures.

The film industry fired another legal broadside at RealNetworks and RealDVD.

Real's Facet DVD player Greg Sandoval/CNET Networks

The Motion Picture Association of America has accused Real of misleading the court about the company's attempts to circumvent ARccOS and RipGuard and about whether the technologies are true copy-protection measures.

Real wrote in patent applications filed with the Patent and Trademark Office in 2007 and 2008 that the two software were indeed copy protections, despite arguing the opposite in court, the MPAA alleged in a document filed with the court on Wednesday. The patent applications were published by the patent office two weeks ago.

The MPAA has taken Real to court to try to stop the company from selling RealDVD, a software that enables users to copy DVDs to a hard drive, as well as Facet , a DVD player that can also create digital copies of DVDs and store them as well. U.S. District Judge Marilyn Patel is due soon to decide whether to continue banning sales of RealDVD until a full trial decides whether the technology violates copyright law.

A Real spokesperson was not immediately available for comment Thursday morning.

An important point of contention in the case is whether RealDVD circumvents copy protections placed on DVDs. If Patel decides it does, then Real is violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which outlaws the circumvention of anti-piracy measures.

Real maintains it has a license with the DVD Copy Control Association, the group that oversees DVD security, to use the copy protections the studios place on DVDs, so there's no circumvention. As for ARccos and RipGuard, technologies that are not included under the DVD-CCA licensing, Real has argued throughout the court fight that these aren't security measures .

"Real and its witnesses have told the court that ARccOS and RipGuard are not copy protection technologies and that Real's engineers did not know how ARccOS and RipGuard worked," wrote MPAA lawyers in documents filed with U.S. District Court in San Francisco. "Yet Real simultaneously has told the PTO that RipGuard' and ArccOS are 'copy protection mechanisms' and then described specific techniques used by ARccOS and RipGuard."

The MPAA attorneys also said "Real has told the court, through witnesses and proposed findings, that ARccOS and RipGuard can only delay but cannot prevent a 'linear copy' of DVDs. But Real is insisting to the (patent office) that ARccOS and RipGuard can 'cause an archiving process to fail' or 'never complete'--exactly contrary to its representations to this court."

The studios asked Patel to consider the three patent applications before making her decision. While it's late to be entering evidence, the MPAA alleges that it has the right to do it because Real did not turn over the patent applications in discovery.

"Judicial notice is warranted here because the applications have been in Real's possession and control but unavailable to the studios," the MPAA said in its court filing, "(And) because the applications so directly contradict Real's contentions before this court."

The language in the patent applications does appear to contradict what Real's lawyers and witnesses have said in court.

Nonetheless, the motion filed by the MPAA may be overkill. Real's story about ARccos and RipGuard was already the weakest part of its case. Real has alleged that the two software types were ineffective in securing DVD content, yet the MPAA produced documents that show Real's attempt to crack them failed. The company then tried to hire an outside firm, which the MPAA alleges is a group of Ukrainian hackers, and they couldn't do it either.

The MPAA said that Real's patent applications are U.S.Patent Application Publication No. US 2009/0148125 A1 (Watson, Bielman, and Barrett); U.S. Provisional App. No. 61/095,249 (Chasen, Buzzard, et al.); and U.S. Provisional App. No. 61/012,500 (Barrett, Hamilton, et al.).

 

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