For those not
aware, Acacia Research has been sending out over 10,000 letters
of a 'Final Notice' to all industries including schools and universities.
The Final Notice
is an attempt to put the "patent infringer" on notice
to either pay a licensing fee or remove all instances of audio and
video from the website.
in particular was targeted by Acacia for being "low hanging
fruit" (said Robert Berman, General Counsel for Acacia). This
target is the Adult Industry. The Adult Industry has always been
the early adopters of technology, so it's no surprise they are one
of the first targets. Technology and Patents aren't limited to the
Adult Industry, but are fertile grounds for exploitation.
claims they have not targeted the Adult Industry specifically, it's
pretty clear when you look at their website
that they are.
Acacia is requiring
porn webmasters to pay a licensing
fee based on GROSS revenue for their patent claims of owning
the process of downloading/streaming audio/video files from a (web)
outside of the US are wondering if this Acacia patent applies to
them, and the answer is yes.
You can read
about Acacia's DMT patent at their website
and at the USPTO.
While many big
name Adult Industry companies like Hustler have licensed
the patent, many other adult companies are fighting back. The founding
members to IMPAI (an
Adult Industry trade organization) are waiting for their first day
in court, tentatively set for Feb.
Acacia has given
the Adult Industry until November 30th to take advantage of its
"introductory licensing" by signing before the "amnesty
date". They will "forgive" prior infringements by
paying a fee based on GROSS revenue, and then another licensing
payment starting 1/1/2004 for the next year. For websites that make
less than $50K per year, that translates into paying $1,500 before
Nov. 30th and $1,500 starting on 1/1/2004.
by sending out "information packets" back in October 2002
that asked companies to contact them about their claimed infringement.
They followed up with "Final Notice" letters to over 10,000
websites. After the Junk Mail campaign, they started the Spam Campaign
by emailing a PDF version of the "Final Notice" letters
(many people received these letters and are not even webmasters
or have any infringements. The letters and emails also did not specifically
state which websites were infringing, and were just templates merged
with a mailing list).
It's very questionable
whether these types of notices constitute as providing notice of
infringement since no specific websites were listed and no guarantee
that the recipient actually received the letter or email (Acacia
has been using mailing lists that contain old addresses and emails
from some companies)
30th, Acacia's next steps should be to file additional lawsuits
in order to "convince" companies to settle now, or be
sued and having to finance the burden of court costs.
Acacia did not
anticipate that Adult companies would put up a fight once big names
like Hustler had settled. There are 11 defendants waiting for their
day in court to present prior art evidence, like the ones that FightThePatent
and a bunch of volunteer searches had found.
With a "mountain"
of evidence, we know that if the "patent claims don't stick,
then you must acquit" (we believe in the Johnny Cochrane Spaghetti
Acacia is not
the only company with broad patent claims and implications. SightSound
and USA Video are two additional companies that should be of concern
and are tracked on this
If it starts
to rain court sermons starting in December, Adult webmasters can
find an umbrella by joining the Defense Group (11 companies that
have pooled their financial resources together for a common defense).
It's an expensive umbrella to share, but cheaper than buying your
own. You can learn more by contacting Spike (spike at HomeGrownVideo.com).
For those that
don't have the money to fight, you won't have many other options.
ACLU handles constitutional issues. EFF.org is busy with other computer
related issues, and my efforts to start Fight
the Patent Foundation has fallen on apathetic eyes and ears.
For those that
can't afford to license, you can join the IMPA to atleast join other
concerned webmasters to show unity against patent abuse cases. The
other choice is to do nothing which is like hiding your head in
the sand.... it will keep the rain drops from getting your head