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App Developer Claims Fox Libeled It

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Fox Broadcasting committed trade libel by claiming a mobile application that streams live TV violates its copyrights, causing Apple, Google and Microsoft to stop selling the app, the product's developer, FilmOn, claims in court.

FilmOn claims Fox is out to "destroy" its "nascent, competing media business" - apps for mobile devices it developed with (nonparty) Aereokiller - by claiming that FilmOn is violating an injunction against technology that FilmOn says it no longer uses.

FilmOn sued Fox Broadcasting, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., and Fox Television Stations in Superior Court.

FilmOn claims that Fox's legal counsel contacted FilmOn's partners, including Apple, Google and Microsoft, and told them that if they sold FilmOn's apps they would "be aiding in federal copyright infringement" under a 2-year old injunction issued by a New York federal judge.

"As Fox and its counsel then well knew but intentionally and misleadingly withheld from those companies, the injunction in fact involved an entirely different technology than that currently employed by the apps, and thus it was unrelated and inapplicable and to the FilmOn apps," the 8-page complaint states.

FilmOn claims that a court ruled earlier this year that mini-antenna technology - which FilmOn says is similar to its own - does not infringe upon the networks' copyrights.

But after CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox sued FilmOn over the old Internet streaming technology and won an injunction, Fox took "steps legal and illegal-to put FilmOn out of business" making "itself judge, jury and executioner," according to the complaint.

FilmOn claims that its apps FilmOn Free TV Live, and Battlecam, which includes no Fox content, were removed from Apple, Google and Microsoft's app stores, cutting off its advertising revenue and subscriptions from those products.

"Notably, the other three networks do not appear to have engaged in or endorsed this conduct by Fox. Only Fox has had the guile to disparage FilmOn as an infringer to its potential business partners in this manner," the complaint states.

FilmOn is represented by Ryan Baker with Baker Marquart.

It seeks damages for trade libel.

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