John Kiel Patterson recently filed suit against Apple in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., claiming iPods are “inherently defective in design and are not sufficiently adorned with adequate warnings regarding the likelihood of hearing loss.”

According to Patterson’s complaint, iPods can blast up to 115 decibels, described in the suit as a level that can cause damage to anyone listening for more than 28 seconds.

Patterson, who wants his lawsuit upgraded to class action, is seeking compensation for unspecified damages and upgrades that he feels will make iPods safer. Patterson purchased an iPod last year but does not state in his suit whether using the device resulted in hearing loss.

However, his lawyer, Steve Berman of Seattle, said Patterson’s personal hearing is not the issue. Instead, he said the lawsuit is about Apple marketing a product that has the potential to inflict hearing damage.

“He’s bought a product which is not safe to use as currently sold on the market,” Berman said. “He’s paying for a product that’s defective, and the law is pretty clear that if someone sold you a defective product they have a duty to repair it.”

Although Apple has yet to comment on the suit, Deanna Meinke, an audiology professor at the University of Northern Colorado, had plenty to say.

“We have numerous products in the marketplace that have the potential to damage hearing,” Meinke said. “The risk is there but the risk lies with the user and where they set the volume.”

Bubble Wrap

How did “Bubble,” the small indie picture produced by Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner’s 2929 Entertainment and directed by Steven Soderbergh, do at the box office?

Not so good by Hollywood standards. The film took in only $72,000 during its first weekend in theaters. However, considering the film only appeared on 32 screens, 72 grand doesn’t seem like small change. Besides, movie houses only represent one current revenue stream.

It was additional revenue sources that fueled media reports about “Bubble.” Movie theaters represent only one of several release platforms for the movie. On the same day it debuted on those 32 screens, the majority of which belonged to Cuban and Wagner’s Landmark Theaters chain, the film also debuted on cable and satellite TV via HDNet Movies, a company owned by Cuban, Wagner and TV producer Phil Garvin.

“Bubble” also had its DVD debut on January 31st, only four days after its theatrical release.

And that’s why the movie theater biz treated “Bubble” like it was the spawn of Satan instead of the offspring of Soderbergh, Cuban and Wagner. The flick represented an experiment where a film is released almost simultaneously on all fronts – theaters, cable and DVD – instead of the usual theater, followed by DVD, followed by pay-per-view and cable routine.

It was due to the multiple release strategy that major movie house chains refused to carry the picture. In fact, John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners, even went as far as saying “Bubble” represented “the biggest threat to the viability of the cinema industry today.”

As far as anyone knows, the cinema industry is still intact one week after the release of “Bubble.”

But Fithian probably wasn’t so much worried about the movie “Bubble” than he was worried about what the film represented. That is, the discarding of the long-standing Hollywood tradition that calls for movie theaters to have a monopoly over new releases until those releases aren’t considered new anymore. Last week it was “Bubble.” But what if it was the next Superman movie? Or James Bond? Or Pirates Of The Caribbean?

All in all, the film’s distributor, Magnolia Films (also owned by Cuban and Wagner), said they were quite pleased with the film’s performance and that DVD orders had been four times what they expected. Furthermore, the company is considering similar release strategies for nine other films it currently has in the pipeline.

“We are very happy with the results so far of this first day-and-date release, and while theatrical performance was not as high as we would have liked, it compared favorably to other similar films released this weekend,” Cuban said.