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Greg Aharonian on the Acacia Patents

Bustpatents.com email newsletter, February 06, 2002


Date sent: Thu, 6 Feb 2003 07:49:37 -0800
From: clients@bustpatents.com
To: srctran@bustpatents.com
Subject: PATNEWS: Webcasters under attack from Acacia's patents


!20030204 Webcasters under attack from Acacia's patents

The latest assertion of dubious patents concerning the network
transmission of compressed data is coming out of Acacia Research. One
of the targets, webcaster radioio.com, is trying to organize an effort
to fight back. Acacia is asking for a royalty of three quarters of one
percent (0.75%) of music-related revenue, which sounds small until you
realize that music webcasting has very low profit margins, if they are
making any money at all. Attached is press release from radioio.com.
A bit of advice to the webcasters people - the Acacia patents affect
businesses, but they are not business method patents. The Berman bill
gambit (dead, and rightfully so for being very ill-defined), probably
isn't the best way to go.

====

But first, what is Acrapia asserting? The priority date is January 1991,
and while it cites lots of prior patents, it cites very little non-patent
prior art. Here is claim one from the first patent in the chain, with
Greg sarcasm (and yes, I available to do invalidity searches :-)


US Patent 5,132,992 (filed Jan 1991)
Audio and video transmission and receiving system

1. A transmission system for providing information to be transmitted
to remote locations, the transmission system comprising:
(Greg note: nothing interesting here)

library means for storing items containing information; identification
encoding means for retrieving the information in the items from the
library means and for assigning a unique identification code to the
retrieved information;
(Greg note: a server library of music and videos that can be
searched - universities and cable companies were doing this
in the 1980s)

conversion means, coupled to the identification encoding means, for
placing the retrieved information into a predetermined format as
formatted data;
(Greg note: reformatting data - not novel in light of the many
such techniques developed for multimedia in the 1970s and 1980s)

ordering means, coupled to the conversion means, for placing the
formatted data into a sequence of addressable data blocks;
(Greg note: most network transmission protocols from the 1980s
had schemes to organize packets to be transmitted, such
orderings often optimized for network conditions, or error
correcting conditions)

compression means, coupled to the ordering means, for compressing the
formatted and sequenced data blocks;
(Greg note: please, shoot anyone in the 1990s claiming compressing
data for network transmission. This subject was published to
death in the 1980s.)

compressed data storing means, coupled to the data compression means,
for storing as files the compressed, sequenced data blocks received
from the data compression means with the unique identification code
assigned by the identification encoding means; and
(Greg note: looks like some sort of buffer or queue before
transmission onto the network. In any event, this technique
was boring in the 1970s)

transmitter means, coupled to the compressed data storing means, for
sending at least a portion of one of the files to one of the remote
locations.
(Greg note: yea, whoopee shirt.)

I am sorry, but I question the ethics of anyone asserting this patent
without first having even a decent prior art search done to be used for
a reexam filing, BEFORE asserting this patent in letters to others. I
mean, there are entire IEEE conferences and journals on this type of
technology, a ton of publications barely cited in the non-patent prior
art section, as follows:

Other References
Ernie Ohrenstein, "Supercomputers Seek High Throughput
and Expandable Storage", Computer Technology Review,
IEEE Spectrum, May, 1990, pp. 33-43.
Patricia A. Morreale, et al., "Metropolitan-Area Networks",
IEEE Spectrum, May 1990, pp. 40-43.

At network specific conferences and journals in the 1980s, university
and corporate groups disclosed their activities in sending compressed
multimedia data out over networks. (Greg note: a prior art searchers
trick - anyone citing solely from IEEE Spectrum is pretty much conceding
their patent is invalid.)

So I suspect Acrapia is going to go after small fry, since any well
funded company can afford to prevail in patent litigation. If I am
overly harsh, it is because of the ongoing psychic trauma and bouts
of depresssion and nausea I have been suffering from the last three
years over being sued for a similarly pathetic compressed data patent
(conditions I hope I can count on someone of you to testify about :-).

====================

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
February 04, 2003

Acacia Research Targets Top-Rated Webcaster 'radioio'
Once again webcasters appear to be under attack.

Today ioMediaPartners made public documents (www.radioio.com/acacia.pdf)
that it had received from a publicly traded company known as "Acacia
Research Corporation" (www.acaciaresearch.com/main.html) that claims
ioMediaPartners and its top-rated internet only station, radioio.com
(ranked #2 December by Arbitron -
www.arbitron.com/newsroom/archive/article1.htm)
are in violation of one or more patents owned by Acacia.

The worldwide patent portfolio includes five issued U.S. patents and a
pending U.S. patent, which will provide coverage until 2011. The U.S.
patents include: U.S. Patent No. 5,132,992, U.S. Patent No. 5,253,275,
U.S. Patent No. 5,550,863, U.S. Patent No. 6,002,720, and U.S. Patent
No. 6,144,702.

"They are basically alleging that they own patents that cover the
transmission of audio over the internet like those used by radioio and
all webcasters to 'broadcast'. They may, but it's just another example
of someone seeking to extend patents for an old tech to "fit" to cover
completely new tech. This is covered under a piece legislation that was
introduced by BOTH Reps. Berman and Boucher. Business Method patent is on
the block for reform and this type of behavior is NOT what patents are
intended to promote. Its past time for Congress to act." says Michael
Roe, President of ioMediaPartners and founder of radioio.com.

"They have notified me and my company that their engineers and attorneys
have assessed the website of our property 'radioio' (www.radioio.com) and
that they have determined that by operating an internet radio station we
are violating Acacia's patents for "accessing or downloading digital video
and/or audio over the Internet", and that we must license the technology.
It's absurd."

"They appear to be selectively enforcing possible infringements on its
patents by targeting smaller business entities like radioio - businesses
that possess the resources to operate and expand, but that do not have the
resources required to engage in any serious legal dispute with Acacia.
They know that the fee that they wish to impose (3/4ths of 1 percent) is
insignificant compared to the those expenses that I would incur in a legal
battle. It's extortion."

====================

Greg Aharonian
Internet Patent News Service

Maintained by University of Maine School of Law

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