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Heat Turned up on Streaming Video Patents
Thursday, January 1, 2004
Acacia Media Technologies, which claims a patent on technology for streaming video, has begun a second round of efforts to persuade colleges and universities to pay licensing fees for the technology.Acacia has previously sought such fees--under the threat of future legal action--from adult Web sites and from mainstream companies including The Walt Disney Co. In letters sent to an undisclosed number of colleges and universities, the company claims that the schools' use of streaming technologies violates Acacia patents. The letters extend a limited-time offer to accept payment to license the patents; after the deadline, however, the schools could face litigation. Acacia's Bob Berman defended the company's actions, saying it is only fair that Acacia be compensated for its property. Others were critical of Acacia and characterized the patent claims as extortion. Officials from the American Council on Education and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have advised schools not to pay the fees requested.