Redbox-Uni tiff over DVD kiosks escalates

Retailer accuses studio of violating antitrust provisions

Redbox, whose DVD kiosks are multiplying like fleas on a feral cat, has filed a response to Universal's motion to dismiss its lawsuit over the studio's refusal to supply its dollar-rental operations.

The Chicago-based retailer argues that Uni is violating antitrust provisions against monopoly behavior by not just denying Redbox the direct supply of DVD releases but also inhibiting disc sales by third-party distributors.

The filing casts doubt on speculation that the parties might seek an out-of-court settlement of their dispute.

"Universal has wrongly interfered with Redbox's contractual relationships with VPD and Ingram," the retailer's response alleges, referring to a pair of product distributors.

In a separate section of the Wednesday filing in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Del., Redbox alleges that "Universal has also obtained the agreement of Best Buy and other retailers to cease or severely limit their sales of Universal DVDs to Redbox."

Redbox deals solely in new releases, all available for $1 per night at almost 13,000 kiosks nationwide. The retailer -- owned by cash-machine company Coinstar after a buyout of a McDonald's stake -- this week opened its first two Manhattan kiosks, located in the Empire State Building and in Times Square.

Uni has refused to supply Redbox with its DVD releases over concerns that dollar rentals will drive down rental prices generally and also hurt disc sales by creating too wide a gap between rental and purchase prices.

The Redbox response to Universal's motion to dismiss cites various copyright and antitrust statutes and appears much in line with its original complaint.