Written by:

Shar Washington


If you own a website that offers any audio/video downloads, you could be sued!!!

Austin, TX - (November 17, 2003). Thousands of website owners across the world have found FINAL NOTICES in their mailboxes from a company called, Acacia Media Technologies Corporation (http://www.acaciaresearch.com) which is located in Newport Beach, California. In the letter, Robert A. Berman, Sr. VP of Business Development and General Counsel for Acacia, claims that his company owns five U.S. Patents (Patents Nos. 5,132,992; 5,235,275; 5,550,863; 6,002,720; 6,144,702) and 17 International Patents covering the transmission and receipt of audio/video content via the Internet. He warns webmasters: "You provide access to digital audio/video content via your website(s) without a license from Acacia, and are therefore liable to Acacia for patent infringement."

Acacia wants a royalty from everyone who has a website on the Internet, who are in violation of their alleged patent infringement by offering audio/videol downloads. Berman is giving websites until November 30, 2003 to pay a minimum of $1,500/year for a license or be sued in court for back royalties or be ordered to shut down their website.

Many people thought the letter was a joke, so they disregarded it. Some had received earlier sent "information packets" and found themselves sued by Acacia in the state of California. Others have found themselves making a business decision to pay the royalties and hand over their yearly sales records in order to get a license from Acacia (Acacia's licensing is based on GROSS revenue).

Acacia has licensed their patent to adult website companies such as : Hustler, Interactive Gallery, Vivid Entertainment Group, and Wicked Pictures. They have been contacting universities, Fortune 500 companies, large and small websites.

Brandon Shalton, an entrepreneur in Austin, TX, created a website www.spokenmessages.com for some nuns who wanted to extend their ministry by using technology. SpokenMessages was to be a service that allowed church pastors to use a telephone to easily record a prayer, message, or a thought and within thirty seconds, the message was made available for playback via the web.

The service was about to come out of beta testing when Shalton found out about Acacia's Patent claims and royalty fees. Feeling that Acacia's patent claims were not valid, Brandon took down www.SpokenMessages.com and set up www.FightThePatent.com on August 12,2003.

The personal crusade of bringing awareness and search for prior art at www.FightThePatent.com , has now created the idea of creating a non-profit (501c3) organization called Fight the Patent Foundation. Shalton said: "The mission is to fight against patent abuse cases much like the way ACLU helps to defend companies and individuals in areas of constitutional issues. Patents are very important to protecting novel and innovative ideas. Bad patents are ones where the patent holder has broadly interpreted the patent to mean more than what was originally approved, and the existence of prior art that the USPTO missed upon original examination. My efforts are not anti-patent, just anti-bad patents."

Many individuals and businesses have found Shalton's website by word of mouth, Internet message boards, search engines, and newsgroups. Before August 12, 2003 most of those people did not understand about Internet patent infringements. Now, Webmasters are paying more attention to patent infringement cases.

Acacia is but one company in the space of audio/video patents. Other players include SightSound (suing CDNOW/BMG) and USA Video (suing MovieLink.com).

Contact: Brandon Shalton (brandon@FightThePatent.com)

copyright 2003, FightThePatent.com