Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
cdn, monopolies, patents

akamai, limelight

When The Competition Gets Tough, Akamai Sends Out The Patent Attorneys

from the what's-wrong-with-a-little-competition? dept

Last summer we noted that the Content Distribution Network (CDN) space was getting crowded with competitors, which was seriously cutting into the profits of Akamai, who is considered the leader in the space. So what's a company like Akamai to do? Well, they could spend money on continuing to innovate, offering a better product and providing reasons why customers would want to buy services from them... or they could just sue their competitors for patent infringement. It looks like Akamai is going with door number 2. Not surprisingly, since juries quite often side with patent holders, a jury has ruled in favor of Akamai in a patent infringement lawsuit over a patent that some are noting appears to be rather obvious in that it describes a process for hosting online content via distributed servers. While it's not clear how obvious this patent really may be, what does seem clear from multiple comments on Slashdot is that there appears to be a fair amount of prior art, including an earlier patent that appears to cover similar territory. Either way, it appears that many different companies and individuals have been trying to tackle this problem in similar ways, and that there's marketplace demand for products in the space. So why should one company be given a monopoly over the entire space?

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  • identicon
    Hellsvilla, 4 Mar 2008 @ 2:06pm

    There's nothing wrong with competition

    Akamai doesn't want to get rid of the competition, it just wants to profit from them.

    oh wait...

    (and no, solving a common problem using available technology does not deserve a patent...)

    But hey, if we want the Chinese to steamroll us in the free market, then setting up barriers for ourselves that they won't bother to follow is the most efficient way to do it, so we're really on a roll now!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Joel Coehoorn, 4 Mar 2008 @ 2:21pm

    It would be nice to see some people 'vote with their feet' in cases like this, and move their business away from Akamai.

    If you're an Akamai customer, it's not in your best interest to remain with a provider that is showing it is reluctant to allow competition-driven innovation to increase value for customers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      matt, 4 Mar 2008 @ 3:03pm

      get around akamai?

      I think akamai is pretty entrenched in the backbone, it might not be that easy to just "Get away" from them. I block anything that comes up with akamai in the name anyway because 99% of it is ads.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Enrico Suarve, 5 Mar 2008 @ 12:11am

        Re: get around akamai?

        To those of you planning on blocking traffic from the Akamai network - be careful, its used extensively by all sorts of companies

        Last time I checked Windows Update uses the Akamai network for distribution...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Amaress, 4 Mar 2008 @ 2:27pm

    Our patent system is going to explode one day. Everyone's going to be really really pissed off and it's just going to go BOOM...all gone.

    What then? Companies will be forced to actually DO something, other than entertain their lawyers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    another mike, 5 Mar 2008 @ 11:34am

    prior art?

    Is building a web site out of Flickr and Youtube links "hosting online content via distributed servers?"
    Maybe not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Alternate, 5 Mar 2008 @ 11:35am

    There are serious issues with the granting of obvious patents, but in this case I have to give Akamai a little credit.

    Patents give a time-limited exclusive use for new and novel inventions. Akamai has a (supposedly) valid patent and would be foolish not to protect it. Attacking a company for using a right all patent holders have is a bit unfair.

    You can argue that software shouldn't be patented. You can argue that a stricter test for obviousness should be in place. But to attack (or criticize) a company for exercising its rights is a bit off center.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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