Apple accused of forcing developers to use alleged patent-infringing video streaming format

in General Discussion edited July 2014
During opening statements in a California court trial on Monday, jury members were told Apple pushed third-party app developers to use a proprietary video streaming format that allegedly infringes on patents owned by audio firm Emblaze.

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

According to Martin Pavane, a lawyer representing Israel-based Emblaze, organizations like Major League Baseball were pushed by Apple to adopt the HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) format, thus inducing infringement of the audio company's patents, reports Bloomberg

Emblaze's patent for a live video streaming solution, first assigned to Geo Interactive Media Group Ltd., was granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2002. The company is now leveraging the property against Apple, which it argues did not start work on HLS until at least 2007.

Presiding U.S. district court Judge Paul S. Grewal limited Emblaze's case to seven video-streaming services and corresponding apps including At Bat and WatchESPN, the latter of which has been drawing high usage numbers for its coverage of the World Cup.

"Apple's HLS is nothing more than Emblaze's patented solution under a different name," Pavane said.

As described by Apple, HLS is a tool that allows ordinary Web servers to stream live or pre-recorded audio and video to iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Mac, with the ability to dynamically adjust playback quality to match available network speeds. "HTTP Live Streaming is great for delivering streaming media to an iOS app or HTML5-based website," Apple says.

Apple attorney Mark Fowler countered by saying Emblaze is merely taking advantage of the iPhone and iPad's success, labeling the Israeli company as a failure "trying to make up for that lack of success in the courtroom." The lawyer cites previous unsuccessful attempts by Emblaze to sell off its technology to wireless carriers and phone makers.

Fowler plans to prove Emblaze's patent invalid as applied to HLS and the seven apps in question.

Now called Emblaze Group, the former audio product maker is using the same video patent against Microsoft in a similar lawsuit being heard by the same California court.
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