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 complaint Friday in federal court in Marshall, Texas.
Intertainer, claiming that it had suffered irreparable harm, asked the court for cash compensation and an order to prevent the companies from using its technology.
Closely held Intertainer claimed that the companies' infringement was "willful and deliberate."
Santa Monica-based Intertainer's investors include Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp.
The patent was issued in August 2005, court papers say.
Apple declined to comment on pending litigation, said Steve Dowling, a spokesman for the Cupertino, Calif.-based company
Ricardo Reyes, a spokesman for Mountain View, Calif.-based Google, said, "We have not been served with the complaint."
Dana Harris, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles-based Napster, declined to comment.