In a verdict handed down by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Apple successfully avoided penalty after being accused of inducing infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,389,473 for live video streaming, which was awarded to embattled audio company Emblaze.
With the '473 patent granted some ten years prior to the introduction of HLS, Emblaze alleged Apple pushed app developers to use the proprietary format, thereby causing them to infringe on the patent. The trial's jury found otherwise, saying ABC News, MLB at Bat, WatchESPN and four other apps did not meet the criteria for infringement.
Emblaze first sued Apple in 2010 over the Cupertino company's proprietary HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) video protocol, which has been used to stream video to iOS devices since iOS 3. As described by Apple, HLS works by slicing live video into segments, converts them into downloadable files and makes them available to client devices. The files can then be downloaded in dynamically variable bitrates depending on network conditions.
According to in-court reports from Bloomberg, Apple attorney Mark Fowler argued that Emblaze was simply targeting Apple after failing to find success in the audio hardware market. The Israeli company tried to sell off its intellectual property to other businesses, including telecoms and other tech firms, but was rebuffed in their attempts.
Emblaze will next take on Microsoft over the same patent, claiming Windows 7 is in infringement of the video streaming property.