updated 4/6/2006 3:20:49 PM ET 2006-04-06T19:20:49

Blockbuster Inc. on Thursday said it plans to fight a lawsuit from online movie-rental service Netflix Inc., saying the company's patent-infringement claims are "without merit."

On Tuesday, Netflix sued Blockbuster in Northern California and asked a federal judge to shut down the company's online rental service on the grounds it violates two of Netflix's patents protecting how subscribers create a list of desired movies and receive a certain number of them at a time.

Netflix's lawsuit singled out Blockbuster despite similar online services sprouting at other companies, such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Blockbuster, the nation's biggest movie-rental chain, had about 1.2 million subscribers to its online service by the end of 2005, according to the company. Users can browse an online DVD library and are mailed the next film on their lists when a previous one is returned

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