Apple judged to be infringing OpenTV’s video streaming patents in Germany

“A German court yesterday ruled against Apple in a video streaming patent case brought by Swiss company Kudelski’s OpenTV unit against the Cupertino company back in 2014,” Natasha Lomas reports for TechCrunch.

“The ruling states Apple products sold in Germany must not use streaming software that infringes OpenTV’s patents, according to a report by Reuters,” Lomas reports. “‘The claim is predominantly valid and well-founded,”’ the court ruled.”

“A broad swathe of Apple products and services had been alleged to be infringing the video streaming patents — including its iOS mobile devices, Apple TV, App Store, and OS X-based personal computers,” Lomas reports. “It’s unclear what steps Apple will be taking to comply with the ruling or whether it intends to appeal.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Seems that a cross-licensing agreement will be the most likely outcome here as Cisco, Google and Disney have each already reached such agreements with Kudelski.

20 Comments

  1. let me guess… a giant patent troll bought a bunch of patents that happened after Apple had already introduced Quicktime Streaming years before. I guess they need to pay up.

          1. Ooop sorry, on wiki is says: Founded in 1991, but it also states. “In 1991, his son André Kudelski succeeded him as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).”

            Definitely not clear cut. Anyone can help here?

            Oh alanaudio, thanks for that photo, what a drool of a machine.

            1. Info card that pops up whenever you do a Google Search.. “Kudelski Group
              Digital television company · nagra.com
              The Kudelski Group is a Swiss company that manufactures hardware and software digital security and convergent media systems for the delivery of digital and interactive content. Wikipedia
              Stock price: KUD (SWX) CHF15.75 -0.40 (-2.48%)
              Mar 17, 5:30 PM GMT+1 – Disclaimer
              Headquarters: Cheseaux-sur-Lausanne, Switzerland
              Founder: Stefan Kudelski
              Founded: 1951, Switzerland”

            1. In fairness to dddd, the media industry is indeed rife with patent trolls.

              But this isn’t one of those cases. Apple just blew it … again. Even though OpenTV was not part of the original Kudelski group, they do go back a long way. If memory serves me, Dish TV and/or Echostar satellite TV used OpenTV software as far back as ~1999 or so. Technology that secures video obviously predates Apple media distribution by a long shot.

              It does seem likely that Apple will just license the OpenTV technology using the chump change that Cook used for Ahrendt’s obscene signing bonus.

        1. No, you’re still wrong.

          The first Nagra sound recorder was built by Stefan Kudelski in 1951. The Nagra company is part of Kudelski SA and Nagras have always been sold under the Kudelski name.

          I’ve personally been using Nagra recorders since the early 1970s and have had meetings with Stefan Kudeslki in the early 1980’s. He was a very impressive and knowledgable inventor and had an obsessed over detail and perfection in a way that that was very much like we later saw with Steve Jobs.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nagra

          1. I was double checking my facts while you posted your research. But I knew I was right because the Kudelski company was well known in the movie business well before 1976.

            If anybody is interested, here is a link to the manual for a Nagra from the 1970’s. It’s the most incredible piece of engineering and they were tremendously reliable.

            Click to access Instruction+Manual+4_2.pdf

            Another tidbit.
            I once did a shoot on a British submarine and something I noticed built into a rack was unmistakably a Nagra tape recorder, but with the Kudelski badge where I would have expected to see Nagra. It was highly modified, but its origins were obvious. I asked what it was for and they explained that it was a cutting edge data recorder ( for it’s day ). It ran the tape very slowly and could record events over a lengthy period for later analysis.

      1. @alanaudio: “They are a hugely respected Swiss technology company and have been around much longer than Apple.”

        Apple was founded in 1977.
        Kudelski was founded in 1991, the same year Apple introduced QuickTime.

  2. If any movie and TV people are reading this, you might be interested to realise that the Kudelski group includes Nagra, who were famous for making the ubiquitous Nagra 1/4″ portable tape recorder that was the leading sound recorder used for location sound recording for decades. Those of us who have used them will recall that they were superb examples of Swiss engineering. Reminding me of products made by a company close to our hearts, Nagras were as beautiful on the inside as on the outside, the way the controls felt when you used them was exactly right and the ergonomics were spot on.

    This is what they look like :-
    https://jamesriverfilm.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/warm-and-smooth-capturing-the-sound-of-analog-audio/nagra-iv-s-professional-tape-recorder/

    It’s a company that might have gone to the wall when that market was disrupted by digital sound recorders, but unlike Kodak, they moved with the times, embraced digital technology and diversified. Amongst many things, they developed a DRM system for pay TV which has been widely adopted.

    1. To be fair, Kodak did move with the times, creating the first commercial CCDs for digital photography. They also made a significant effort to create and control the home digital photography market as well as digital printing. Unfortunately, due to a number of factors I got to watch up close and personal, Kodak was in self-destruct mode at the same time it was attempting to adjust to digital imaging. The problems included:

      (A) It’s incredibly successful and lucrative past in the film and photo paper business, which it was undercutting by moving to digital. There as EXTREME reluctance in the company to change its embrace to digital, despite its invention and ownership of prime digital technology

      (B) Marketing-As-Management: This nightmare occurred specifically because its film and paper businesses were so successful in the past. They became slip-shod with time with their entrepreneurial spirit and foolishly allowed the company to become focused instead on marketing. As the market changed, the film and paper marketing people were stoic in their focus away from digital, causing incredible and consistent chaos within their digital R&D efforts. It was literally like watching the company apply a knife against its own throat. Marketing-As-Management also produces the worst possible business managers, the kind who demand schmoozing and focus on interpersonal relationships while directly and deliberately sabotaging productive efforts, or getting things done such as new product development. There’s nothing like having a marketing person in charge of R&D of a new product. I watched several such products rot and die specifically because of POOR management.

      Summary: A company at cross purposes that ended up demoralizing and undermining its own digital efforts.

      /rant

  3. Sadly, this patent case looks legitimate, at least from my superficial perspective.

    1) The parent company, Kudelski Group, is a family based company with its basis in the foundation work of its creator, Stefan Kudelski. The company is now run by his son, André Kudelski.

    2) André is the one who directed the company into digital technologies and drove its R&D invention. Their access-control system software began to be integrated into TV set-top boxes in Europe in 1989. From what I understand, the patents for this software are in contention against Apple’s patents. Kudelski’s software development is parallel with Apple’s R&D on QuickTime. QuickTime went public in 1991.

    How exactly these two software development projects crossed lines, I’m uncertain. There certainly are at least some common purposes. It does NOT appear that actual digital streaming technology is in question. It appears to be a question of media access and database system software. In other words, from my perspective, this is about the organizational software within both systems.

    My reference (Look! I can post references! — Inside snarky remark joke):

    Kudelski Group SA – Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Kudelski Group SA

    1. I would expect that Apple considered that they were not using Kudelski’s patents in their implementation of streaming video, otherwise they would not have gone to court over this and would have just licensed the patents.

      The European Courts may or may not have been a bit prejudiced toward a Swiss company in their decision giving the benefits of any doubts in a highly technical case to them. remember ideas cannot be patents, only specific implementations of ideas. If that is the case, Apple may appeal. However, Germany has some arcane patent rules that other countries do not subscribe to which are listed in what is referred to as the “red book” and Apple has run afoul of these before. For example, if even the Inventor tells anyone about his invention before applying for a patent, that counts as “prior art” under their “red book” rules and the patent will be denied.

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