Early Inventor Of Streaming Video Wants To Help Fight Off Video Streaming Patent Trolls

from the nice-offer dept

TasMot points us to a recent blog post by Jacques Mattheij, who developed one of the earliest, if not the earliest version of browser-based streaming video back in 1995, about his experience with patent trolls. There’s an initial experience with an attempt by patent trolling giant Acacia to try to shake him down, which failed mainly because Mattheij’s company was mostly based in the Netherlands, making it difficult for Acacia to go after them (and, Mattheij notes, that patent was eventually invalidated… but not until 2009, by which time plenty of damage could have been done). However, he notes that a more recent troll has popped up on the scene, named Joao Control, who has apparently been busy suing a bunch of companies, including some online video operations like, Sling Media and WebcamNow, as well as a bunch of auto companies (including Hyundai, Ford, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota and Honda). You can read through the cases if you’d like, but they all seem pretty ridiculous. Joao appears to argue that it has patented “systems for remotely controlling video systems.”

There are a few patents that pop up in the various lawsuits, but Joao appears to hold a few hundred patents on a fairly wide variety of areas. “Joao” is really Raymond Joao, himself a patent lawyer, who apparently realized that rather than representing others, there was tons of money to be made by getting a bunch of patents himself (represented by himself) and then going after others. For what it’s worth (and without making any statement on the merits of this claim), some employees/inventors of a company for whom Joao once represented have previously accused Joao of filing for some of his patents while working for them, taking their ideas and then filing his own patents on them.

Either way, Joao has been arguing that he’s patented certain forms of streaming video, and Mattheij finds the whole thing ridiculous, and has made an offer to anyone sued by Joao (or any other patent troll) over online streaming:

I’m pretty anal when it comes to data retention, I can go back 25+ years when it comes to software that I have developed. And that came in pretty handy. I provided the counsel for the defense through the defendant (which I had had prior dealings with, they were an early licensee of the software) with all the relevant data and made myself available as an expert witness. It never came to that.

If anybody out there finds themselves sued because of violation of patents regarding streaming video and payment systems then here is a standing offer to give you a full packet of data with a detailed timeline documenting the first use of streaming video on the world-wide-web, sample images from public broadcasts using this technology from well published events (such as World Media Live using the software to broadcast the ‘96 Yves St. Laurent fashion show but there were plenty of others before that, it took a while to gain traction), the first use of pay-per-view and subscription based access to streaming video and audio and many more such milestones. This offer is free of charge, if it should come to any form of testimony then I’m more than happy to go where ever it is needed if you pay my way (airfare + basic accomodation is fine) or to give remote testimony via – rich irony here – video link, in which case it is free.

It is high time that this matter is laid to rest once and for all, Joao Controls is clearly abusing the legal system in the full knowledge that their patents are of 0 value.

Of course, patent system apologists will point out that he never patented his own work, and Mattheij answers that the same way many developers I know have answered various patent questions, by noting that what they did was nothing special, and the idea that it deserves patent protection is ridiculous.

I’ve never harped on public recognition for coming up with a way to stream live video to the browser (as far as I know it’s not mentioned in places like wikipedia) because as far as I’m concerned it was a rather trivial affair software wise. Some of the stuff I have built was several orders of magnitude more work and vastly more complex than this. To register a patent for something like that to me is abuse of the patent system. There is no substantial research to invest in, it is just basic plumbing, a re-use or composition if you want of existing elements in a new but obvious form. So, in order to frustrate any further attempts at shake-down of hardworking people by parasitic patent trolls I hereby stake a public claim on the creation of the first streaming webcam software, in March of 1995, to the claim of having the first combination of streaming video and credit card payments for pay-per-view and subscription based access in May of 1995 for a customer that became very well known with the product, and for plug-in free streaming video and audio combined in July of 1996. And I’m willing to stand by that claim and defend it with documentation if challenged.

Kudos to Mattheij for making this offer and standing up for what’s right, though it’s simply ridiculous that he even needs to do this in the first place.

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Companies: acacia, joao control

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Comments on “Early Inventor Of Streaming Video Wants To Help Fight Off Video Streaming Patent Trolls”

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38 Comments
Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Re: Evidence?

Searching US Patents Text Collection…

Results of Search in US Patents Text Collection db for:
IN/Jacques AND IN/Mattheij: 0 patents.

The question is did his work rise to the level of inventorship? Are these claims similar to Mike Masnick’s?

Coding software may rise to the level of producing an invention, but most programmers are not that creative. Combining others inventions may rise to the level of invention, but those that do usually are minor incremental advances and often low value.

If he had produced an actual invention and he had taught the invention via a patent he might have had leverage and made money, but since he did not teach he finds himself in this situation.

Attorneys do end up with all the money. Typically they receive 30% to 40% of the net after expenses are deducted. As a rule inventors see 40% to 50% of the gross judgement.

It is a fact that inventors would not see any return without their patents and a few good attorneys in tow. It should not be this way, but that is the reality.

Like many, perhaps most TechDIRT readers, big companies usually feel they have an inalienable right to take inventions.

Producing inventions is expensive and time consuming, as in a decade or two. They often are the most expensive investment and asset an inventor owns. Their costs usually exceed the value of all the inventor’s other assets.

Ronald J. Riley,

Affiliations:
President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Michigan * Washington, DC
Direct 810-597-0194 * 202-318-1595 – 9 am to 8 pm EST.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Evidence?

This statement from yourself, as the actual President of whatever you are, Is exactly the reason why the USA is currently undergoing the dubious honour of becoming obsolete when it comes to actually creating anything new or unique.

The other 95% of the planet actually understands that not everything requires patents, not everything is about the money nor profit nor whatever else you call your ‘deity’, and not everything is only good if somehow ‘invented’ by the USofA.

The US used to be a major leader of innovation and ideas. Sadly for your own economy and brain-trust this has become over time basically pointless and few and far between. And your statement basically shows why.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Evidence?

“The other 95% of the planet actually understands that not everything requires patents”
“The US used to be a major leader of innovation and ideas.”

The US is still a leader in producing inventions but large transnational companies are trying to make sure that they are the only ones who get to milk the cow.

Most of America’s problems are related to crooked banking and transnational invention thieves.

It is my hope that the public will eventually fix political corruption problems by tossing most incumbent politicians out and replacing them with independents. A combination of banking ripoffs of the public and allowing transnationals to steal inventions from small business is killing job creation, and that is likely to cause drastic political change.

And yes, most everything is driven by profit for it is profit which allows us to have time and resources to be able to invent.

Many cultures are so rigid that they pretty much kill the ability of their people to invent.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Evidence?

If he had produced an actual invention and he had taught the invention via a patent he might have had leverage and made money, but since he did not teach he finds himself in this situation.

Um. You do realize that (a) he’s so far been winning these fights and (b) he’s been making money with this invention since he first created it.

Facts: not one of RJR’s strong suits.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Evidence?

Mike, There is no question that you do good work on First Amendment issues and like you have have problems with copyright, mainly the length of the term and industry’s constant attempts to subvert fair use rights of those whom have purchased legitimate copies and also their interference in hardware features. I think that copyright should be limited to the same twenty year term as patents.

But when you talk about patents you generally have your head stuck where daylight does not shine. One problem with your comments is that you do not seen to understand the difference between the way inventive startup companies use them and the way big business uses theirs. They really are very different animals. I have a news feed made up of inventors and attorneys where I often forward your posts. You are considered in the group to a buffoon or a paid blogger. Most of these professionals consider you to not be worth their time.

“Facts: not one of RJR’s strong suits.”

1) There is no proof that there was an invention. Such proof comes from successfully getting a patent which stands the test of time and is not invalidated. Then we would know that he invented something. As it stands, there is zero proof of inventorship.

It is fair to say that the program was the first of its kind, but not to claim that there was an invention.

2) You constantly quote writings of people who are known to be big company puppets while ignoring other people who are known for true expertise. One example would be that you have never cited material from professor Irving Kayton or Don Banner, both of whom knowledge was truly exceptional. Another example is Scott Keiff.

One last thing, when it comes to facts you claimed to be an inventor and when I asked for documentation you dropped it cold. So put up or shut up.

Personally I think that your expertise is similar to RIM,s and Apple’s, lots of hype, at least as it relates to patents.

Maybe you should consider doing an article about how big business is buying academics to push their agenda, or look into the issue of paid bloggers. One side effect of the decline in journalism is journalists writing on spec, usually for big business or they become paid bloggers whose job is promote an agenda.

Transnational companies are stealing independent and small business inventions. AIA was written by them to facilitate such theft. They promptly transfer the inventions to places like China, and that means that jobs and prosperity which those inventions could have driven in America are gone.

I understand that this will not have much effect on Masnick’s business model which is to suck up to those companies, but it does have a huge and long term effect on small companies who need enhanced profits which patents produce to grow.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: About How Inventors Enforce Patents

While some lawsuits are driven by the defendant being collectable, that is not always the case. Big companies, government agencies, political parties and others often sue with the intent to drive someone into bankruptcy.

This was a common tactic with patents, where a big company tried to bankrupt the inventor. Our counter tactic was to first seek investors and then it evolved to promote contingency litigation. One problem with investors was that attorneys might be willing to take money for a case which they did not think they could win. Contingency was a much better approach where the attorneys front costs and their labor time and only get paid if they win the case.

Because contingency litigators are risking between two and as much as fifty million dollars on a case they are unlikely to pursue weak cases. That means that most of the claims about trolls are utter BS. There is a real inventor behind these cases who is generally being ripped off by big companies.

The downside of contingency litigation is atht it is rare for any inventor whose recovery is less than ten million dollars to have their day in court, When the adversaries are really big companies where the costs may be as high as fifty million the threshold is more like a hundred million or more.

This means that big companies can and do steal less then ten million with nearly total impunity and that below a hundred million they have at least a 50% probability of getting away with such theft.

By the way, Masnick’s ex employer Intel is well known for their belligerent attitude towards inventors and the same is true for all of his clients which have been exposed from time to time.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 About How Inventors Enforce Patents

Everything in my experience is that money usually explains motivation. On other intellectual property issues Masnick roots for creators. a stand I agree with. It warms my heart to see authors and artists bypass traditional gatekeepers who are often taking nearly all the fruits of their labors.

Yet when it comes to independent inventors he cheerfully promotes big big businesses lie that they are victims of trolls when in fact those companies are F-ing thieves who routinely steal others inventions. They are not upset about bad patents because bad patents usually are not litigated and when they are they end up invalidated. What they hate are good patents which cost them hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

Masnick’s position on patents, especially his condescending attitude and smart ass responses to any inventor who visits the forum and his business connections give very good reason to question motivation.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 About How Inventors Enforce Patents

Everything in my experience is that money usually explains motivation.

That applies to you more than most, from what I’ve heard.

On other intellectual property issues Masnick roots for creators. a stand I agree with. It warms my heart to see authors and artists bypass traditional gatekeepers who are often taking nearly all the fruits of their labors.

Kinda funny, since this very post is me standing with the creator — as I always do. The problem with patents today is that they’re being used to shake down those who built something obvious. And you know it.

Yet when it comes to independent inventors he cheerfully promotes big big businesses lie that they are victims of trolls when in fact those companies are F-ing thieves who routinely steal others inventions.

And yet, I actually slam the big companies who abuse patents just as much, if not more, than the trolls.

In other words, as per usual, you’re wrong.

Masnick’s position on patents, especially his condescending attitude and smart ass responses to any inventor who visits the forum and his business connections give very good reason to question motivation.

In RJR’s world: “smart ass responses” are anything that messes with his worldview.

Violated (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Let us recall that 56kbps was the claimed maximum where the minimum was 28kbps and where my local line quality allowed for between 36 and 42kbps.

Those modems were really a new breed though where back in 1995 you could well be stuck on 14 and 28kbps dial-up modems.

Well I may have some live video broadcast recordings from back in 1997 but this is really not the type of stuff that you would want to see.

I will recall 1997 and 1998 when here in the UK BT made a whole lot of money from me of around ?2000 per year. BT then got so rich they purchases a telecoms company in Japan. Then ISPs began to offer 0800 “free” connections and BT’s plans and income crashed. I then got broadband around 2000 for an always on fast link.

This discussion is odd to me when recently I have been watching some 1080p video that needs to be streamed at over 0.69 MB/s. How the world has moved on and we still need faster and better technology to achieve even better results.

Todd (profile) says:

First to flail

I’m really becoming concerned about how the recent fundamental shift in our patent system plays into nonsense such as this. It seems obvious that in the world that existed up until our “reform”, this type of situation is troubling but solvable.

Now, with the first to file system being the law of the land, it seems to matter a lot less that someone did this fairly trivial implementation at the dawn of the internet.

The clever, enterprising version of the patent troll species [cf. capitagium-ereptor] seems to have a golden opportunity now, where they can become the patent holder for lots of stuff that was just so obvious that nobody ever filed for it. It saddens me that there used to be a reasonable defense for that (a.k.a. prior art) and now, I fear, you may just be out of luck.

I could be misunderstanding something important about the way the new version of the law works, in which case someone please set that straight, but it feels a bit ominous when pondering what will likely happen in the near future. I fear that when the trolls realize the potential of this game changing law, they will go on a more aggressive land grab. If the prior art argument becomes a moot point, then it seems like these guys will only be limited by their imagination in terms of what they can encumber and monetize.

Anonymous Coward says:

Something is seriously wrong

This kind of thing should be invalidated on principal. If a lawyer wants to buy someone else’s patent and sue everyone, that’s one thing (money went to the inventor). Or if the lawyer wants to patent something related to the legal profession, I’d be fine with that (not really, but for the sake of argument). But someone who hasn’t written a line of computer code should be barred from filing a software patent.

Violated (profile) says:

History

I can well recall seeing video streaming via Real Media back in 1997 so it had obviously existed prior to that.

I think he is right that video streaming was rather a trivial matter when even years prior to that time you had your MPeg video that become fixed into a v1.0 standard in 1993. So it would have been about pulling these known features together and getting it working over the Internet with the main problem being people’s slow dial-up connections.

We sure to live in a strange time with many people trying to carve themselves a slice of the Internet. Patent trolls falsely claiming ownership of things they did not create is one small part of this.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

About How Inventors Enforce Patents

“That applies to you more than most, from what I’ve heard.”

From 1993 I devoted a huge percentage of my time to stopping invention promotion fraud & Patent Deform. It was all pro bono. In addition to working for nothing I spent several million dollars of my own money, especially in the last few years as the economy made it nearly impossible to raise money to cover costs.

Incidentally, I eventually was able to connect Dozier to a company (www.InventorEd.org/caution/isc) who was busted by the FTC for fraud in the mid nineties. They paid the fine and continue to fleece inventors with worse than useless services.

“Kinda funny, since this very post is me standing with the creator — as I always do.”

The creator who wrote a piece of software which apparently did not represent any significant inventive act. And from what I have seen, you never stand with inventors.

“And yet, I actually slam the big companies who abuse patents just as much, if not more, than the trolls.”

No Mike, you slam anyone who has the gall to enforce their patent property rights. Your mindset is that those who are best at marketing should be able to take whatever they want for their own, just like big business does.

Producing inventions is just as much a product as building something.

Most inventors are not good at building or running a business and even those who learn to do so (as I did)need capital. Typically inventors sell several of their early inventions in order to build enough capital to make later ones themselves.

When all the companies refuse to pay and use their invention they then seek out a contingency litigator to extract fair value. You call this a troll, parroting big business and that is BS.

Ronald J. Riley,

Affiliations:
President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Michigan * Washington, DC
Direct 810-597-0194 * 202-318-1595 – 9 am to 8 pm EST.

Anonymous Coward says:

About How Inventors Enforce Patents

The BS is when non-practicing entities can register patents for things they never build. In fact, most of these rent-seeking lawyer companies have never invented anything, with some even being implicated with STEALING ideas from their clients.

Lawyers do not understand what inventing entails and understand even less what the word novel means.

staff says:

more dissembling

You claim Mattheij is an inventor yet he has no patents. His name doesn’t even appear as a co inventor on a single patent. Have you been duped, or are you trying once again to dupe the public?

Masnick and his monkeys have an unreported conflict of interest-
https://www.insightcommunity.com/cases.php?n=10&pg=1

They sell blog filler and “insights” to major corporations including MS, HP, IBM etc. who just happen to be some of the world?s most frequent patent suit defendants. Obviously, he has failed to report his conflicts as any reputable reporter would. But then Masnick and his monkeys are not reporters. They are patent system saboteurs receiving funding from huge corporate infringers. They cannot be trusted and have no credibility. All they know about patents is they don?t have any.

http://truereform.piausa.org/default.html#pt.

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