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Apple, Google, Napster face suit for patent infringement

WASHINGTON -- Apple Computer Inc., Google Inc., and Napster Inc. were sued by online movie distributor Intertainer Inc. and accused of infringing a patent on a way to distribute digital entertainment over the Internet.

Apple, maker of the iPod music player; Google, the most-used Internet search engine; and Napster, a seller of songs online, are using the patented technology without permission, Intertainer said in a Dec. 29 complaint in federal court in Marshall, Texas.

Intertainer, claiming it has suffered irreparable harm, asked the court for cash compensation and an order to prevent the companies from using its technology.

Closely held Intertainer said the companies' infringement was "willful and deliberate," which if proven will allow a judge to as much as triple any damages awarded.

The patent, covering a "digital entertainment service platform," was issued in August 2005, court papers show.

Apple declined to comment on pending litigation, Steve Dowling, a spokesman for the Cupertino, Calif.-based company, said yesterday in an interview.

"We have not been served with the complaint," said Ricardo Reyes, a spokesman for Mountain View, Calif.-based Google.

Dana Harris, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles-based Napster, declined to comment immediately.

Culver City, Calif.-based Intertainer's investors include Microsoft Corp., the world's biggest software maker, and Intel Corp., the world's biggest semiconductor maker.

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