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Apple accused of inducing patent infringement by MLB, ESPN with HTTP Live Streaming tech

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Lawyers for Israeli technology company Emblaze told a federal jury this week that Apple has induced sports leagues and TV networks, including MLB and ESPN, to infringe Emblaze's patents by forcing them to use Apple's allegedly infringing HLS technology for streaming live video to iOS devices.




The accusation came in an opening statement by Emblaze attorney Martin Pavane, as relayed by Bloomberg, on the first day of a trial that has been in the works for more than four years. Emblaze first sued Apple in 2010, alleging that HLS -- Apple's own streaming video protocol -- infringes on Emblaze's U.S. Patent No. 6,389,473 for a similar system to stream video over computer networks.

HLS, or HTTP Live Streaming, is a protocol introduced alongside iOS 3.0 and used primarily for streaming video to iOS devices over an HTTP connection. Broadly speaking, HLS works by slicing a live video stream into a series of individually downloadable files and allowing clients to download those files in a variety of bitrates, depending upon the network conditions.


Illustration of HLS content flow from input to end user. | Source: Apple's iOS Developer Library


Emblaze argues that this is essentially the same process covered in its patent, which predates Apple's HLS by more than 10 years. "Apple's HLS is nothing more than Emblaze's patented solution under a different name," Pavane told the court.

Apple counsel Mark Fowler fired back by painting Emblaze as a failed technology innovator now attempting to profit from patents. Emblaze is "trying to make up for that lack of success in the courtroom," Fowler said.

The case has been stalled and restarted a number of times -- most recently pending the outcome of a related Supreme Court case involving Apple CDN partner Akamai -- but the trial is scheduled to last some two weeks now that it is finally underway. Emblaze is also suing Microsoft for infringing the same patent in Windows 7, with that case awaiting the resolution of Emblaze's litigation with Apple.
post #2 of 14

I thought HTTP Live Streaming was an open standard. What am I missing here?

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #3 of 14

The fact that Emblaze claims to have invented the basic technology ten years prior to Apple's HLS implementation.

 

Even if other companies have adopted Apple's HLS standard, their actions don't suspend intellectual property ownership (that's what Emblaze is claiming).

 

In a similar way, if you are pulled over by the cops for speeding, the excuse of "well other people are speeding too" doesn't make you innocent. You are still violating the speed limit.

 

Of course, it's too early to say if Emblaze has any valid claim to this technology or if they are just patent trolls. It's up to the legal system to decide that.


Edited by mpantone - 7/1/14 at 12:15pm
post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpantone View Post
 

Even if other companies have adopted Apple's HLS standard, their actions don't suspend intellectual property ownership (that's what Emblaze is claiming).

 

In a similar way, if you are pulled over by the cops for speeding, the excuse of "well other people are speeding too" doesn't make you innocent. You are still violating the speed limit.

There is one huge difference though -- Apple is providing the technology for others to use.  This would be like getting pulled over by the cops for speeding because the taxi driver you hired is speeding. 

post #5 of 14

Perhaps the speeding analogy wasn't the best choice to illustrate this subject. Intellectual property law is a bit more complicated than the vehicle code.

 

In any case, the fact that Apple is encouraging others to use the technology does not give intellectual property ownership to Apple. 

 

I'm definitely not saying current patent law is ideal, but that's the way it stands right now. Emblaze is now claiming that this idea is theirs and was patented earlier.

post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpantone View Post
 

Perhaps the speeding analogy wasn't the best choice to illustrate this subject. Intellectual property law is a bit more complicated than the vehicle code.

 

In any case, the fact that Apple is encouraging others to use the technology does not give intellectual property ownership to Apple. 

 

I'm definitely not saying current patent law is ideal, but that's the way it stands right now. Emblaze is now claiming that this idea is theirs and was patented earlier.


Except for one thing... didn't QuickTime have this functionality a lot earlier? Obviously the implementation or design of Emblaze's patent would have to be completely and utterly different to what has previously existed but I'm sure Apple could claim prior art on this one.

post #7 of 14
it is going to depend on details.


10 years is nothing, considering Darwin Streaming Server (Quicktime Streaming Server) was available open source in 1999.

RTSP is not new, and if Apple is basing their technology off of the older work they did, well, prior art.
post #8 of 14
You can't patent an idea. If Apple's implementation is unique, their work will stand.
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by macaholic_1948 View Post

You can't patent an idea. If Apple's implementation is unique, their work will stand.


Like bounce back? Slide to unlock?

post #10 of 14
Duplicate
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by scineram View Post


Like bounce back? Slide to unlock?
Yes and no. Those are design features that have to do with look and feel. Streaming is a function that can be implemented in multiple ways, each with a different appearance. But, your point is well taken none-the-less.
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by macaholic_1948 View Post

You can't patent an idea. If Apple's implementation is unique, their work will stand.

Someone should tell that to the patent office.

post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by macaholic_1948 View Post

You can't patent an idea. If Apple's implementation is unique, their work will stand.
 

Quote:

Originally Posted by scineram View Post
 


Like bounce back? Slide to unlock?

 

No, it's more like patenting the idea of a flying machine in the 1880s, without specifying how it would work, and then suing the Wright Brothers because they figured it out.

post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by elroth View Post
 

 

No, it's more like patenting the idea of a flying machine in the 1880s, without specifying how it would work, and then suing the Wright Brothers because they figured it out.

Sort of like patenting the idea of passing a search query to "a plurality of heuristic modules", each of which implements some unspecified "predetermined heuristic algorithm"...and then suing someone for working out all the details to make such a system actually work?

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