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Acadia Streaming Patent Contested 194

Posted by chrisd
from the streaming-greedhead-crap dept.
Anonymous Coward writes "Since last year Acadia Research has sent hundreds of letters to various porn web sites to arrange royalty deals, picking on the small fry before trying to take on well-heeled companies such as Disney. However, many small fries refused, and now 40 firms have joined forces and are embroiled in a suit with Acadia. Fish & Richardson (a prominent intellectual property law firm) have taken their case. The best part? CEO Paul Ryan's obvious sour-grapes-syndrome, he goes from describing the web porn industry as a "billion-dollar industry" where the money is to a "sideshow" that's "maybe 1% of our potential revenues". Check it out here"
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Acadia Streaming Patent Contested

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  • Amazon (Score:5, Funny)

    by kmac06 (608921) on Thursday April 03, 2003 @12:11AM (#5650243)
    In other news, Amazon plans to sue every site on the internet that uses cookies, as well as Microsoft for allowing sites other than Amazon to stores cookies.
    • Re:Amazon (Score:2, Funny)

      by cujo_1111 (627504)
      "This is a travesty to the legal system," complains E. Michael "Spike" Goldberg, chief executive officer of the company that owns HomeGrownVideo.com, a site featuring amateurs performing various sex acts in their homes and other creative locales. "They've made a business model out of a loophole," he says of the broadness of Acacia's patent claim. "It's like they're trying to patent breathing."

      Acacia may have tried to patent breathing, but the /. crowd got there first...
      • Acacia may have tried to patent breathing, but the /. crowd got there first.
        I thought /. patented hot grits and beowulf clusters?
    • by rf0 (159958)
      Userfriendly [userfriendly.org] has already been here.

      Rus
  • Forbes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by leviramsey (248057) on Thursday April 03, 2003 @12:12AM (#5650250) Journal

    This isn't the first Forbes anti-excessive patents article they've run... as a matter of fact, I've seen links to a couple already on Slashdot. Could Steve Forbes be pushing for patent reform to be a Republican plank in '04 (especially if he decides to run again...)?

    • I'd have voted for the guy! Flat tax! Amongst other things....
      • The parent's sig mentioning women and lesbians made me think of flat-chested women when I read the words "Flat Tax". Is something wrong with me? Or does that just make me a guy?
    • maybe not office, but he may just be trying to push something in terms of patent reform. lord knows he's got the readership to pull off such an agenda, if even to just raise awareness of the issue. i might just have to start reading his magazine more regularly :-)
    • Re:Forbes (Score:3, Interesting)

      by deadsaijinx* (637410)
      I'm pretty sure that Bush will be the runner for the republicans come 2004, but that may change depending on how this war goes. However, If Forbes (or anyone else) where to run and have Patent Office reform as an issue, I would definitely listen. I think that it is time for the Gov't to get back in touch with the people. (now, to get back on topic)

      Your right, a LOT of slashdot articles are all about excessive patent frenzies, but it really is an important issue. Myabe some of you out there are saying, "He
      • Bush will ensure that the was isn't over before elections (even if it's just "mopping up"), thus guaranteeing him the election.
        • Bush will ensure that the was isn't over before elections (even if it's just "mopping up"), thus guaranteeing him the election.

          If the "cakewalk", "7-10" day war isn't over by the fall the GOP will be starting impeachment proceedings of their own accord.

          Jimmy Cater did not loose in 1980 because of the hostage crisis, he lost because the rescue attempt was horribly botched and went wrong. If the war is still going on this fall then something has gone horribly wrong.

          Of course that isn't to say that there

      • I'm pretty sure that Bush will be the runner for the republicans come 2004

        There will still be a primary, even if Bush is practically guaranteed the win...
    • Re:Forbes (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This Steve Forbes? [newamericancentury.org] No thanks!

      From the site:
      • we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future
      • we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values
      • we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad
      • we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our se
    • Re:Forbes (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Farley Mullet (604326)

      Could Steve Forbes be pushing for patent reform to be a Republican plank in '04 (especially if he decides to run again...)?

      And court the all-important geek vote? Steve Forbes has about zilch political credibility aside from the soabox afforded to him by his publishing companies and the fortune that those companies provide him. He certainly won't be able to mount a primary challenge against a sitting president if he runs as a republican, and running as a third party candidate pretty much ensures that h

      • He certainly won't be able to mount a primary challenge against a sitting president if he runs as a republican
        2008, chose between Forbes and Cheny nuff said.
  • God bless US of A! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I wonder how many bastards like Acadia Research do we need before people realise that there's something wrong with how we look at "intellectual property." I'm sure Thomas Jefferson is spinning in his grave.
  • by cscx (541332)
    I run Windows Media Server and cast this so-called "streaming media." I suppose they'll be after me too huh?

    In other news, I've just applied for a patent on sex.
  • I sure as hell hope this doesn't fly
    just what the net (and the world) needs
    another company about to go belly up over
    what they think is thier property
    can you say Amazon.com?
  • yet one... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by deadsaijinx* (637410) <animemeken@hotmail.com> on Thursday April 03, 2003 @12:17AM (#5650272) Homepage
    more case of Patents gone crazy. The patent office was designed to protect ones ideas and STIMULATE growth, not to allow people to suddenly restrict the use of a VERY commonpractice. I can't say that I'm too pleased with their lawsuit, but I do appreciate the nuances. If I created something, I'd sure as hell want to keep it protected and to earn royalties. Yet at the same time, this is abusing the system. They have a patent on something. That something becomes common practice. That patent becomes lucrative. Company suddenly goes after people using common practice. And they go really low, because they beleive that the porn industry, made of lots o lil fishes, won't be able to defend themselves. After all, the court will just frown down on these "dispicable" people (hey, everyone needs to make a living).

    I am all for patents, and for protecting your ideas. but I am also for the expansion of ideas and the advancement of us all. So poo-on-you Acadia!

    • Re:yet one... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by gregmac (629064)
      That raises an interesting idea. Shouldn't the onus be on the patent owner to enforce their patent when someone else first starts to violate it? Sitting on your hands for a few years while many companies violate your patent, then suddenly decided you want to collect on them is akin to entrapment.

      By waiting, you're simply allowing more people to violate the patent and increasing the overall payoff for yourself when you go to file suit against all the companies (as opposed to doing it to the first one and

      • Re:yet one... (Score:2, Interesting)

        That raises an interesting idea. Shouldn't the onus be on the patent owner to enforce their patent when someone else first starts to violate it?

        No.

        That sounds like the situation with trademarks today: if your trademark is infringed, and you don't defend it, you lose it. That's how we ended up with companies being ridiculously overzealous about trademarks. Remember KIllustrator [slashdot.org]? Remember the mailing list owner who received legal threats because someone had posted a message with the subject 'sendmail for du

        • Re:yet one... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by gregmac (629064)
          That sounds like the situation with trademarks today: if your trademark is infringed, and you don't defend it, you lose it. That's how we ended up with companies being ridiculously overzealous about trademarks.

          So? Is this really a bad thing in regards to patents? If you don't defend your patent, and over the next few years you start getting companies, formats and standards that are actually infringing your non-enforced patent, how is it fair to say you still have a right to it? You'd suddenly be putting

      • I wonder how many software patents would be filed if the PTO required full, compileable and functional source code to be part of the description and therefore to be on public display for everybody to pounce on as soon as their 17 years was up? Imagine reaction if their next big improvement was already patented by a competitor as an improvement on your existing patent?
    • Re:yet one... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by deadsaijinx* (637410)
      Slashdot should get a Patent on spelling errors (who am I to talk ^^) . Just noticed that Slashdot calls it Acadia where as it is actually called Acacia. Hurry, editors! HURRY!

      Learnt english mine I did from fansub anime!
      NO! not really!
    • Doesn't this just FEEL absurd? The pornographers (demonized as evil) fighting the good fight against a corporation (idealized as guardians of innovation and american spirit).
    • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Thursday April 03, 2003 @03:16AM (#5650947)


      yet one... more case of Patents gone crazy.


      Patents GONE WILD!

      See hundreds of early, young patents exploited at www.patentsgonewild.com! TODAY!

      Sign up now and get a bonus video stream: Patented College Pipedreams! Too hot for TV!
    • oh it's stimulating growth alright. growth in the number and cost of lawyers to repeatedly attempt to undo what they did.
  • Uh Oh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by FFtrDale (521701) on Thursday April 03, 2003 @12:18AM (#5650278)
    Is Acacia going to file a patent application for sex, too, along with their patent on streaming video? We know that the US Patent Office hasn't been too alert about prior art...

    Yeah, yeah, go ahead & reply w/ the obligatory joke about /.ers "not having to worry about getting sued for infringement."

    • Re:Uh Oh... (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Are you kidding me? With as little actual work as they do I'm convinced everyone at the patent office spends 99% of their time banging chicks! That's the only explanation I can come up with. I'm guessing they'll spot the prior art on that one...
    • I'm guessing if they do let it through, we know that no one at the patent office is getting any, I'm pretty sure it is a dull job.
    • Yeah, yeah, go ahead & reply w/ the obligatory joke about/.ers "not having to worry about getting sued for infringement."

      Well, y'know at least we'll all be safe.

      Slashdotters won't ever get sued for infringement

      Get it?

      Slashdotters...no sex...

      Awww, never mind.

  • by canning (228134) on Thursday April 03, 2003 @12:21AM (#5650293) Homepage
    Eight firms agreed to Acacia's terms. But 40 didn't, and Acacia promptly slapped them with lawsuits. Rather than buckling, though, several of the porno sites joined together and stood their ground. Now Acacia is in the fight of its life and may even face a shareholder revolt as a result.

    Searching for sexual innuendos..... searching......

  • Did Acacia actually have anything of substance? Or is it just one of those "a method to over the net" patents that mention an idea but not much else.

    Unless these companies are using tech developed at Acacia what right does Acacia have to their income?
  • by Entropy_ah (19070) on Thursday April 03, 2003 @12:29AM (#5650323) Homepage Journal
    Don't EVER post a story about porn sites and end it with a link entitled "Check it out here"
    You really got my hopes up :(
  • by cyril3 (522783) on Thursday April 03, 2003 @12:29AM (#5650324)
    your bad English gets you into trouble with Disney.

    sent hundreds of letters to various porn web sites to arrange royalty deals, picking on the small fry before trying to take on well-heeled companies such as Disney.

    I imagine they will feel insulted at being called a well heeled porn site.

  • by Nemus (639101) <astarchman@hotmail.com> on Thursday April 03, 2003 @12:30AM (#5650332) Journal
    Considering the fact that theres like, what, a half a billion + websites that doing streaming video, can you imagine the sheer awesome might of a nearly industry wide class action lawsuit against these guys?

    It would be like a massive horde of little white knights rushing to breach......wait. Lets not go there.

  • Small Fry? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fishbert42 (588754) on Thursday April 03, 2003 @12:33AM (#5650352)
    "Acadia Research has sent hundreds of letters to various porn web sites ... picking on the small fry before trying to take on well-heeled companies such as Disney."

    By 'various porn web sites' do you mean the single largest online industry and the driving force behind countless advancements of the internet over the years? I think it's safe to say that Acadia Research chose the wrong 'small fry' to pick on.
    • And lets not forget the single online industry that brought in profits, and continues to bring in profits in spite of an economy where the mere mention of the Internet sends shudders down the spines of accountants and stockholders everywhere.
  • by SensitiveMale (155605) on Thursday April 03, 2003 @12:37AM (#5650371)
    No mean no!
  • All I want... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) on Thursday April 03, 2003 @12:44AM (#5650401)
    Is a royalty-free streaming video feed of the court proceedings. They promise to be quite entertaining.
  • does anyone have a link to the actual patents? there's probably prior art for this.
  • by cranos (592602) on Thursday April 03, 2003 @12:46AM (#5650417) Homepage Journal
    Make them watch twenty hours of Ron Jeremy, they'll buckle quicker than Asia Carerras panties come off
  • Since last year Acadia Research has sent hundreds of letters to various porn web sites to arrange royalty deals, picking on the small fry before trying to take on well-heeled companies such as Disney.

    So Disney is into porn now? Is that hentai, or hardcore?
  • by happyhippy (526970) on Thursday April 03, 2003 @12:49AM (#5650437)
    "Acacia Research reported a net loss last year of $29.6 million on sales that plummeted to $882,000, from $24.6 million the previous year. If nothing else, the stock is a screaming bargain"

    No, its a screaming warning sign not to invest you idiot. And coupled with this ridiculous patent grab its a bigger warning to stay away.

    • IIRC, the article said that the company was sitting on a pile of cash and assets much greater than the value of the company's stock. If this is really true, and the owners think there's no prospect of a sustainable business going forward, it would be good sense to just cease operations and split the loot up between them.
  • Use It Or Lose It (Score:1, Interesting)

    by schnarff (557058)
    I know that our current patent system is set up so that, if you don't defend your patent for a certain amount of time, you can't just come back and start attempting to enforce it. Perhaps, as we see more and more cases like this, it would be smart for the Congress or the Courts to much more clearly define the limits on trying to enforce a patent after you didn't bother for a while. Though this might lead to more vigorous legal action to defend ridiculous patents in the short-term, it might do good long-term
    • Re:Use It Or Lose It (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Steven Blanchley (655585) on Thursday April 03, 2003 @01:03AM (#5650523)
      I know that our current patent system is set up so that, if you don't defend your patent for a certain amount of time, you can't just come back and start attempting to enforce it.

      You must be thinking of trademarks; see my comment on that [slashdot.org]. Patents cannot be lost by neglect to defend them. However, it may happen that the patent cannot be enforced in a certain case.

      If company B has been infringing company A's patent for five years, and company A knew about it all along, and then suddenly decides to sue over it, B can use as a defense that, in effect, A's ignorage of the infringement excused it.

      But if company C then comes along and infringes the same patent for the first time, A would still be able to enforce the patent on C. So patents are never lost completely, only partially under certain circumstances.

      Also, this kind of situation doesn't tend to come up very often.

  • by the gnat (153162) on Thursday April 03, 2003 @12:54AM (#5650477)
    I think every healthy, freedom-loving Slashdot reader owes these porn purveyors our thanks. Each and every one of you should go subscribe to their services tonight - remember, you're doing it to protect innovation. If this angers your wife/girlfriend, tell her it's for a good cause.
    • If this angers your wife/girlfriend...


      Sexist pig... assuming that every healthy, freedom-loving Slashdot reader is either male or a lesbian... Well I'm here to say, ladies, pay-porn-for-protest is your right too!

  • I hope the challenge succeeds. Not because I have any love of porn on the web (I hate pop-up hell with a passion -- long live kazaa for pr0n!), but because I so badly hate patent whores.

    But then... ah, nevermind. I could waste a ton of bandwidth waxing political, but what good would it do?

    I'll just shut up now.
  • by TuballoyThunder (534063) on Thursday April 03, 2003 @01:02AM (#5650518)
    A quote that I found interesting in the article was:
    Acacia Research reported a net loss last year of $29.6 million on sales that plummeted to $882,000, from $24.6 million the previous year. If nothing else, the stock is a screaming bargain. The market values the entire company at just 43% of the $55 million Acacia has on hand in cash and cash equivalents. "All I know is I've been buying a lot of stock lately," Ryan says gamely.
    It seems to me that the business model of getting vague or overly broad patents does not provide a steady income stream. If you go to their web site [acaciaresearch.com] you find that they still list their V-chip technology (even though they lost a patent enforcement case--guess the patent was not that important) and their biochip technology (also a loser in the courts).

    The bottom line is that there is a desperate need for patent reform. My first suggestion is a peer review process. Technology specialization has gotten to the point where I do not think a fulltime patent clerk can stay current in a field. Second, the patent process must be completed in a short timeframe. If you cannot provide a clear patent right away, then you probably do not have good idea. The current patent process has a disclosure document program [uspto.gov] that can be used to help establish precedent. It even provides for a patent pending. IMHO those two concepts provide sufficient protection of an idea. The purpose of a finite timeframe is to reduce the number of submarine patents.

    A dissenting opinion to my view can be found here [ipcreators.org].

    • I like the original idea of only being able to patent something that you can actually bring into the patent office and show them. Patents shouldn't be granted on ephermal concepts like algorithms anyway.
      • You're missing the point of a patent, which allows you, the little guy, to think up some invention, draw up some blueprints, patent your design and get money from investors to actually build your invention.

        The downside of patents is that you can do the above, and sit on your patent looking for and sueing hapless infringers.
  • by rf0 (159958) <rghf@fsck.me.uk> on Thursday April 03, 2003 @01:34AM (#5650644) Homepage
    Haven't the US patent office worked out yet the system is being abuse? I mean as they are going for streaming media does this mean they could go for people who are downloading MP3's (legal or not). This case deserves to be kicked out of court or its going to be hell for everyone. Of course if this is allowed I'm going to patent toilet paper and then ask for 1% of everyone income. Now that would be crap :P (pun intended)

    Rus
    • and print DMCA on yours with your Lexmark printer! Then you can additionally sue everybody else for using an inferior but infringing design (toilet paper without the DMCA logo is like a CD without DRM or even the artists's name, right?) and failing to pay you royalties. You guys are going to be rich!

      And IRB (140733): no insult intended; I think that you guys are both right.

    • Haven't the US patent office worked out yet the system is being abuse?

      The problem is, that the US Patent Office sees itself as a government profit center [forbes.com]. It has no desire to correct any abuses because it doesn't see abuses, it sees all the money it is raking in with the fees it charges in granting and maintaining patents. To make any kind of reform in the USTPO, a major paradigm shift needs to occur within the USTPO concerning its place in the United States Government.

      We may all agree that the plac
  • As any well-educated nerd knows, Acadians are descended from French-Canadian exiles who fled Nova Scotia (aka Acadia) for south Louisiana centuries ago.

    Since then we've been speaking French and cooking gumbo. But I'm pretty sure "acacia" is a tree indigenous to the Middle East.

    Get it straight you bastards! We Cajuns (itself a Creole bastardization of 'Acadian') ain't up in no streaming-media piracy, no! Mais non!
    • Actually, you've got your facts sorta mixed up.

      Cajuns are Acadians who migrated from Nova Scotia to Louisiana. Cajuns, are in fact, Acadians in Louisiana.

      Acadians is a group of people/culture/region (Acadie) from Nova Scotia. They are alive and well IN Nova Scotia, still living and breathing to this day.

  • Seeing as streaming video is BUILT IN to most media players/codecs, this is gonna get thrown out quick. Not to mention the idea of streaming video is probably 50 years old, what with those dreams of videophones and all..
  • by Sandman1971 (516283) on Thursday April 03, 2003 @03:12AM (#5650937) Homepage Journal
    Anyone know when this was originally patented? I can't seem to find it at the Patent Office online. I remember watching streaming video/audio in Real Player around 95, and videoconferencing in 90-91 (which is streaming video). Unless they patented this in the early 80's, there's TONS of prior art to this.
    Hmmmm, maybe I'll patent the idea of prior art. Wonder if it's been tried already.

    Prior Art: The process of which indicates if an already existing patent and/or use was already pre-existing. If anything remotely acts/looks/operates/functions to/like anything already existing, they are in violation of this patent.
  • by panurge (573432) on Thursday April 03, 2003 @04:04AM (#5651070)
    Did anybody else notice the rather prurient tone of the Forbes article? The baby talk about people taking their clothes off, and the "you wouldn't want to know"?
    How many of their readers need to have explained in baby talk what streamed video porn might be about? And then there's the suggestion that a law firm had to be persuaded to take the case. Let's just explain this. The way you "persuade" a law firm to take your case is, you offer them enough money.

    The writer seems to be uncomfortable that porn companies are involved. But it's hard to understand why they should be any worse ethically than gun companies, liquor companies, and certainly tobacco companies, and they spend huge amounts of money on lobbying and litigation to protect their interests.

    Anyway, they are to be applauded. Acacia is basically (in my admittedly incompetent opinion only) a loser company with a business model based on a protection racket, and has tried to set the price of being left alone at a level low enough that its victims will pay rather than litigate. They have chosen to litigate, and that increases the chance that this kind of thing will fail in future. Which is good for innovation and the economy. And, as I suspect the Democrats will be saying in 2004, it's the economy, stupid.

    • Actually, I found the ending quote of the article quite hilarious. A company that both provides and distributes porn flicks, saying "We don't need a partner for years and years."

      That must be just too accurate a description of their clientele.

  • Patent restricted to no more than 10 years.
    Should your patent go unimplamented for a year after being issued you lose your patent.
    You may not 'protect' a patent you have never implamented.

    The idea of patents are that once you've implamented your unique idea that someone else dosen't copy you.
    The problem with thies new patent ploys is the patent holders never actually implamented the patent. Thies are just holds on technology other people would later actually do.
    It's a violation of the consept.
  • Hmm.. a company that goes around enforcing patents that they did nothing to get, named Acadia Research?

    Funny, I have a client named Acadia Research (in the financial sector) that is in no way related to these losers. If I remember correctly, they do have a trademark on the name "Acadia Research".

    I wonder if my client should file a trademark infringement suit against these jokers... Anybody got any thoughts?

  • Fish & ... (Score:2, Funny)

    by pfl (216803)
    Hey!

    Where are Cage & McBeal?
    What's the deal with Fish and that other guy? That "Richardson" seems suspiciously like "Richard"...
  • Intellectual Property is damaging to the economy.


    No great surprise, there.


    My only problem with this suit is that I loath and detest both sides. Maybe the combined over-inflated egos of everyone involved will cause a gravitational collapse, pulling the lot of them into a gigantic black-hole, thus saving civilization from the evils of both IP and Prawn merchants.

  • by taustin (171655) on Thursday April 03, 2003 @01:21PM (#5653598) Homepage Journal
    . . . to invent a business model that let's the porn industry make you look sleazy.

    These people claim to have patents on digital cell phones. I wonder if they realize that yet.
  • The lesson learned? Don't attack the porn sites as "small guys". They'll fight back! That and they actually make enough money to warrant a joint resistance opposed to a lot of the small e-commerce sites that support mom & pop shops.

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