Burst.com, Inc., an innovator and provider of media delivery technology, was sued in U.S. District Court in San Francisco yesterday by Apple Computer for declaratory relief, alleging patent invalidity or non-infringement. The suit follows a breakdown in protracted negotiations for issuance of a license of Burst’s patents to cover Apple’s iPod and iTunes products. Burst anticipates responding to the complaint and filing a counterclaim for patent infringement shortly. Burst remains committed to the enforcement of its intellectual property and looks forward to successfully resolving this litigation through a license covering Apple’s Quicktime, iPod and iTunes products, including Apple’s iTunes Music Store.
Last year, Burst settled its patent and antitrust suit against Microsoft with Microsoft taking a license to Burst’s patents and paying a lump sum of $60 million. Since the Microsoft settlement, the company has been in patent licensing discussions with several companies engaged in the distribution of audio and video content on computer networks.
Burst.com, headquartered in Santa Rosa, California, is the developer of Faster-Than-Real-Time™ and Burst-Enabled™ video and audio delivery software. Burst.com’s Burstware® provides high-quality delivery of full-motion video and CD-quality audio over IP-based networks. The company, established in 1990, has built an international patent portfolio covering bursting, video delivery scheduling and Rapid-casting. Burstware®, Faster-Than-Real-Time™ and Burst-Enabled™ are trademarks of Burst.com. More information about Burst.com is available at http://www.burst.com/
Does this lawsuit telegraph something about Apple’s future plans for delivering media content? (See If Front Row can stream movie trailers from Apple, why not whole movies?) Does this action so close to Macworld Expo scuttle any of Steve Jobs’ announcements or does it support rumors of Apple’s planned video distribution system? And was that reported increase in .Mac bandwidth from 10GB to 1TB per month really just a “mistake” by Apple?
Monday, January 02, 2006
On December 10, 2005, we covered an article by Robert X. Cringely, in which he wrote:
Streaming likes to have as much bandwidth as possible RIGHT NOW. To make streaming of high-bandwidth content as painless as possible, Apple would need the kind of distributed architecture I’ve been describing at Google. Maybe Apple has that, but if they do, nobody has told me,. There are ways around this technically. Maybe Apple is using the Akamai network or its equivalent. Maybe the distribution system leverages peer-to-peer in the same manner as BitTorrent. Maybe there is some secret technology Apple will pull out from behind Door Number Three. But whatever technical solution Apple presents, the company will still have a LEGAL problem. No matter how I look at it, this supposed Apple announcement clearly bumps into the claims of little Burst.com and its nearly 40 video distribution patents. Burst has been quiet lately, which could mean something or nothing. Certainly, they haven’t announced that Apple has bought a license like Microsoft did last year for $60 million. If Apple introduces this video service as described but without a license, Burst will undoubtedly try to shut it down. So if you believe the rumor, then look for an Apple/Burst announcement. I’m not sure yet what I believe.
Cringely’s article followed a December 02, 2005 reports from Think Secret’s Ryan Katz:
Apple is planning to unveil a robust new content distribution system in January at Macworld Expo alongside its revamped media-savvy Mac mini, Think Secret has learned. The new content system and related media deals, which will include feature-length content, expanded televisions offerings, and more, will further cement Apple’s increasing lead in digital media delivery. Apple’s new technology will deliver content such that it never actually resides on the user’s hard drive. Content purchased will be automatically made available on a user’s iDisk, which Front Row 2.0 will tap into. When the user wishes to play the content, robust caching technology Apple previously received a patent for will serve it to the users computer as fast as their Internet connection can handle. The system will also likely support downloading the video content to supported iPods but at no time will it ever actually be stored on a computer’s hard drive. This method, which will be every bit as simple and straightforward for consumers as the iTunes Music Store is now, poses a number of advantages over Apple’s current pay-once-download-once system, including saving users’ hard drive space and essentially providing a secure back-up of everything purchased. Alongside this announcement Apple will also be rolling out a number of new partnerships with various content providers. Those Apple has not signed at the time of launch, one source speculated, will likely want to jump on the bandwagon soon afterwards, not unlike the vast number of additional record labels that were added to the iTunes Music Store soon after its inception.
There’s nothing to stop Apple from launching something and working out the legal niceties at a later date.
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If Front Row can stream movie trailers from Apple, why not whole movies? – January 06, 2006
‘Kaleidoscope’ harbinger? Apple increases .Mac bandwidth from 10GB to 1TB per month – January 02, 2006
Cringely on rumored Apple ‘video locker’ content distribution system – December 10, 2005
RUMOR: Apple to debut new distribution system, partners for feature-length, TV, and video in January – December 02, 2005