Patent on 'No Comment'
For those following the Acacia Saga, you know that the "amnesty
date" of November 30th came and went. Towards the middle of
December, Acacia released a Press Release stating they had signed
a total of 108 licenses along with filing 8 new lawsuits in the
A week later,
Acacia released a PR about 24/7 University:
2003--Acacia Research Corporation (Nasdaq: ACTG; CBMX) announced
today that its Acacia Technologies group has entered into a License
Agreement for its Digital Media Transmission ("DMT") technology
with 24/7 University, Inc.
to 24/7 University is Acacia's first licensing agreement for its
DMT technology with a company in the e-learning sector. 24/7 University
offers courses containing audio/video content to corporate customers.
The e-learning sector includes both for-profit companies and non-profit
institutions which provide online courses for education and training.
I called the CEO of the company and his story underscored the point
that businesses are faced with making business decisions and the
decision to fight the patent claims is grossly skewed over the cost
In my conversation,
he mentioned that he did do his research, he has been reading the
message boards and articles (and my website), but the issue of the
patent's validity is not the major issue for him. The major issue
is what's the best decision for his business (ie. could he afford
uses the Real Networks platform to handle the streaming of their
learning videos. I asked him if Real was there to support him and
his response was no.
discussion, the phrase "it was a business decision" came
up as an explanation for the signing of the license.
resonated within my head, as I had heard it many times before in
talking with companies who licensed and those that released statements
(Hustler) about their decision to license.
It seems the
phrase "it was a business decision" is the current replacement
for the phrase "no comment". With the utterance of this
phrase, the inquisition of why a company would settle is squashed.
While much of
the news that is reported has been about the problem, the Patent
Panel at Internext seeks to find some solutions.
on Jan 5th (Monday) at 4pm is the Patent Panel with Spike Goldberg,
Greg Clayman, and myself.
The topic is
to talk about how patents affect the Adult Industry and how to deal
On one hand,
you have the point that the industry should unite together, to form
a common defense. Banding together can help to reduce the financial
expenses of a lawsuit, as well as helping to take a stand (ie. Defense
of patent lawsuits are not limited to Acacia, and may very well
see adult industry players having their own patent lawsuits.
On the other
side, you have the other point that businesses will react and do
what is in their best interest. Should it mean paying the license,
it's their business decision to do so.
issue for the patent panel and even in this discussion between the
two points, is really, do webmasters even care to band together?
Or will they all act as an island unto themselves and do what's
best for them individually?
When you are
faced with a company that has deeper pockets and a litigious agenda,
it is very intimidating and daunting for a smaller company to be
able to fight.
It is a grave
abuse of patent and civil law when an entity can literally roll-over
a company because they don't have the ability to fight.
with deeper pockets could afford to pay a license, but for the vast
majority that don't, what are their options?
The ACLU and
EFF were formed to help the little guy fight against injustice and
this is why I proposed Fight the Patent Foundation. Unfortunately,
the level of support has not been there for my non-profit organization
idea which gives an informal conclusion that webmasters will just
deal with these stifling issues on their own.
11 defendants Feb 6th court day is certainly promising, and many
are sitting on the sidelines waiting for that day, but as you have
read in message boards and in articles, Acacia has added more lawsuits,
and have proposed 2 class action lawsuits.
The entire Adult
Industry will be adversely affected if the judge grants the class
action status where Acacia seeks to have Private Media and Adult
Check lead up the class action.
Acacia has always
claimed that they have not singled out the Adult Industry, and someone
had to be the first to be targeted. The concept of including all
Adult Industry companies into a class action is quite odd, because
the use of audio/video on a website is not limited to adult content.
Seems like a class action over all websites that have audio/video
should have been done, not specifically targeting one industry.
EVERY adult company is involved now, won't necessarily make companies
rally together. It's just like public radio and PBS, many will watch/listen
for free while others contribute to the funding.
With the large
attendance of webmasters at Internext, I hope all webmasters will
jam pack the Patent Panel to listen to what the panelists have to
say, to listen to what your fellow webmasters have to say, and to
voice your own thoughts and opinions about how companies will react
to patent issues.
I also hope
some media companies really look at
how REAL companies are being hit with
the patent claims.
should be looking at this problem under a MICROscope
where companies that use their SOFTware
are being targeted for patent infringement.
I hope that
this really disturbing issue will be
addressed by really big companies to
support companies that use their products. For now, articles such
as this gives you a window into the
problems that lurk inside. Will it take an apple
to fall on companies heads before they see how serious this problem
that use multiple platforms for delivering audio/video, wouldn't
you switch to a company that was there to support you?
As for me, two
phrases you won't hear me saying, "it was a business decision"
and "no comment".
of patent related events at http://www.FightThePatent.com