Aereo has intellectual property suits coming and going

Media mogul Barry Diller, owner of IAC-InteractiveActiveCorp, is in a massive argument with David “Alki” Alkiviades, the man behind California-based, antenna-rental provider BarryDriller.com. Diller backs a company called Aereo that uses miniature antennas to allow users to watch real-time TV, a service that has already set off lawsuits with broadcasters over copyright law violations.

Cybersquatting, a right of publicity violation and false designation of origin are charges alleged in Diller’s lawsuit to force Alkiviades’s enterprise to cease operations. BarryDriller.com subscribers similarly pay to receive antennas that pick up retransmitted television shows. Diller seeks a host of damages in the reported copycat services and domain dispute.

Diller is no stranger to intellectual property court cases. The man who created the Fox and USA broadcasting networks started offering Aereo in New York last spring. Networks pounced on the service even before its March debut, but could not block Aereo in a U.S. district court. A second judge later threw out the broadcasters’ claims of unfair competition, essentially because the issue was not covered under New York state law. Aereo is also countersuing.

Aereo’s retransmission service is accused of being a barely-disguised Hulu or Netflix, carefully disguised as an antenna rental provider. For Aereo to be unplugged for good, the networks would have to show that the antenna service is doing “irreparable” harm. So far, Aereo has beaten the legal challenges to its retransmission business.

While multiple broadcasters are claiming Aereo is stealing pieces of its revenue pie, Aereo is jumping on Alkiviades’s BarryDriller.com service for essentially swiping the entire Aereo business plan — name and all.

Diller has asked for a permanent injunction to shutter BarryDriller.com and Alkiviades’s antenna-selling and retransmission service. The media titan also wants a court to award him ownership of BarryDriller.com and all associated names, so consumers don’t mistake the alleged knockoff with the Diller name or television show viewing service offered by Aereo.

Source: chicagotribune.com, “Barry Diller sues copycat site BarryDriller.com,” Tim Kenneally, Aug. 22, 2012

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