Court Invalidates Key Patent Claims In Acacia's Streaming Media Patent

from the down-goes-another-one dept

The EFF's painfully slow patent busting project keeps on seeing success -- even if it's taking forever. The number one patent on the list was Acacia's streaming media patent, that was brought to court more than six years ago, basically going after anyone who did online streaming media. Acacia, of course, is one of the biggest and most well known of the patent hoarding firms that started getting lots of attention earlier this decade (the company now often tries to hide patents in shell companies, since the Acacia name is now so closely associated with "patent troll"). With this patent, Acacia was especially sneaky, in that it started by going after porn sites, figuring they wouldn't want to fight back.

Either way, a district court has just tossed out the 10 claims that it was asserting in its lawsuit against cable and satellite TV providers, claiming that they're all invalid. The EFF doesn't get credit for this one, since it wasn't through a USPTO patent review process, the overall impact is the same. For all intents and purposes, the parts of this patent that were being asserted against so many companies have been declared invalid. It doesn't change the fact that tons of companies have spent years and years fighting it and paying legal fees, but that's our patent system for you. Encouraging "innovation" the same way the mob encourages "safe neighborhoods."


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    garfalk (profile), Oct 1st, 2009 @ 11:52pm

    haha, yes. at least slowly is better than not at all.

    we really do need to get back the original definitions of IP law...the ones that jefferson and co. thought up.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Joe, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 11:59pm

    For all intents and purposes...

    years ago i read this phrase spelled a little differently as 'for all in tents and porpoises'. Forever ruined me to the phrase. Now I just can't read it without sniggering.

     

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

  3.  
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    Tor (profile), Oct 2nd, 2009 @ 12:02am

    Incentives for not granting bad patents

    What would happen if we had a system where the patent office that granted the patent somehow lost money if the patent is invalidated?

    How can we setup a better system of incentives in order for patent offices not to grant these kinds of patents?

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2009 @ 2:16am

    "...(the company now often tries to hide patents in shell companies, since the Acacia name is now so closely associated with "patent troll"). With this patent, Acacia was especially sneaky, in that it started by going after porn sites, figuring they wouldn't want to fight back. "

    I see you can read minds and in some detail too !.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    ..., Oct 2nd, 2009 @ 5:11am

    What about a refund

    Do the victums get their money back?

     

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  6.  
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    Mechwarrior, Oct 2nd, 2009 @ 6:05am

    Re: What about a refund

    Most likely they wont. Acacia probably extorted exclusive contracts with those companies, probably with a long contract life.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2009 @ 6:27am

    If the 'victums' get their money back, do the victims get a 'refund'? Sweet mother of god, you are a grammatical nightmare. Go back to school and stop failing our global economy!

     

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

  8.  
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    Kevin (profile), Oct 2nd, 2009 @ 7:13am

    I like the analogy

     

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

  9.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 2nd, 2009 @ 7:15am

    Re: Incentives for not granting bad patents

    Every time a patent is invalidated the USPTO gets a budget cut and the inspector who approved the patent gets a pay cut? Possibly even a fine for the company or person (and layer?) who filed it? I'd say that would severely limit the patents put out.

    But, the opposite should be true as well. How can we reward for good patents? How would we even quantify a good patent? maybe a budget increase and a pay raise for a set amount of patents approved? That may push the system to go fast while still being accurate.

     

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  10.  
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    staff1, Oct 2nd, 2009 @ 9:44am

    stop the shilling!!!

    "patent troll"

    Call it what you will...patent hoarder, patent troll, non-practicing entity, etc. It all means one thing: “we’re using your invention and we’re not going to pay”.

    For the truth about trolls, please see http://truereform.piausa.org.

     

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  11.  
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    Tek'a R (profile), Oct 2nd, 2009 @ 4:39pm

    Re: stop the shilling!!!

    oh Ronald, you silly man..

    do you think that simply dropping your name off will keep people from recognizing you?

    More to the point, if you truly cant see the difference between actual theft of a design/patent and the over-written and overreaching patents that are the roots of the need for reform.. well, I am surprised you can string words together.
    Or copy them off a website.

    For an example of an overly broad patent, lets look at the one being challenged related to this article.

    "A system of distributing video and/or audio information employs digital signal processing to achieve high rates of data compression. The compressed and encoded audio and/or video information is sent over standard telephone, cable or satellite broadcast channels to a receiver specified by a subscriber of the service, preferably in less than real time, for later playback and optional recording on standard audio and/or video tape"

    The patent goes on to amend a dozen or more times, each time claiming another vague category, such as "Also to include digital transmission, and also to include transmission involving a computer"

    There is no formula, no diagram or circuit. In truth, there is no system outlined in the patent at all, merely a claim against the IDEA of a system, broadly drawn out with a paint-roller to include any vaguely similar concept involving transmitting.. anything ever. This patent is held by a company that does not do any kind of business related to "distribution of video and/or audio" or any type of activity at all outside of sending legal notices.


    try harder, RJR

     

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  12.  
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    Haha, Oct 3rd, 2009 @ 7:39am

    Re: stop the shilling!!!

    Every time I see this "stop the shilling!!!" staff1 thing I think of the guy(?) under the covers screaming "Leave Britney Alone"

     

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

  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2009 @ 7:40am

    Re:

    Haha - you missed it

     

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

  14.  
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    Fred McTaker (profile), Oct 4th, 2009 @ 1:58am

    Re: stop the shilling!!!

    Hey 'staff1', try listening to your own advice. Stop shilling for the patent trolls that don't produce anything real. You just make yourself and your "Pee uh USA" site look more ridiculous with every troll comment you make.

     

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

  15.  
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    Scott Owens (profile), Oct 4th, 2009 @ 12:15pm

    Finally

    When I got the slick packet from them in the mail years ago demanding a large fee and a percentage of revenue from my porn site years ago, I was a little scared and I was not sure what to do.
    I was in no way about to give money to patent trolls, but at the same time did not really want blow a bunch of money on a legal fight.
    Most of my content was still photography, so I simply took down all the music and videos, responded to their notice saying that the offending content had been removed, waited a while and then put it back up.

     

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

  16.  
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    hans, Jan 30th, 2010 @ 12:45am

    My response

    I used to have a number of adult sites with video. When Acacia contacted me I felt threatened. I was a small, financially insecure operation. Hustler had just caved in and paid them. Others were doing the same. I wrote them back in French, saying that since I lived in Quebec and my business was based in Quebec I was unable to respond to them until they re-submitted their request in French. Ha! I never heard back.

     

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


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