When I was in college, I said that computers shouldn't be a box in the
corner. They should be a small box on my desk. I think Bill Gates owes ME
At 11:58 AM 10/3/03, you wrote:
>> From today's Chronicle of Higher Education
>>Company's Letters to Colleges Say Its Patents Cover Streaming Media for
>>By SCOTT CARLSON
>>A California company is telling colleges and universities that it owns
>>patents related to audio and video streaming used for online courses, and
>>that it is entitled to a portion of revenues from such courses.
>>Administrators at some of the colleges the company has contacted say they
>>are studying its demands, but they have not yet agreed to licensing deals.
>>The company, Acacia Research Corporation, holds five U.S. patents and 17
>>international patents in digital-media-transmission technology. The
>>patents cover not technological details but concepts like streaming audio
>>and digital signals on demand from servers to users' machines.
>>Acacia has sent patent-infringement letters to an unknown number of
>>colleges across the country, offering to overlook past infringement in
>>exchange for the institution's signing on to "a special royalty rate of
>>two percent of gross revenue from each online course that includes
>>digital audio and/or video content."
>>The letters close with a stern warning: "If you continue using our
>>patented technology, but choose not to obtain a license from Acacia, we
>>reserve the right to seek the maximum amount of damages allowable by law
>>and an injunction prohibiting you from continued use of our patented
>>technology without a license."
>>Seton Hall University is one of the latest to receive a notice from
>>Acacia. "They're definitely after us," said Stephen G. Landry, the
>>university's chief information officer. "We get $100-million in revenue
>>from our courses, any of which can use digital media on the Web site --
>>downloadable images, video, sound. In fact, we have had a project to
>>encourage faculty to record their lectures and put them on a server."
>>The university has already licensed the streaming programs through
>>companies like RealNetworks, Mr. Landry said. "I don't think that the
>>university is going to be inclined to sign over $2-million a year to
>>Acacia for this license agreement," he added.
>>Robert A. Berman, senior vice president of business development at
>>Acacia, said that the company had sent out about 100 letters to various
>>businesses and organizations that use streaming technology, including
>>colleges. Through letters, negotiations, and court judgments, he said,
>>the company has already gotten some 40 adult-entertainment sites to share
>>a portion of their revenues from video streaming. Record companies, as
>>well as companies that offer movies in hotel rooms, have also signed up,
>>Mr. Berman said that until 2002, the patents were owned by another
>>company, Greenwich Information Technologies, which was purchased by
>>Acacia. The patents will expire in 2011.
>>"The e-learning community is just starting to incorporate online-learning
>>technology into their curriculum," he said. "We think that on an ongoing
>>basis, these schools and private companies are going to be using this
>>technology more and more. We are offering them an opportunity now to
>>license our technology at reasonable introductory rates. That offer won't
>>He said that the 2-percent rate was negotiable if a college was not
>>making money on its courses. "If people have questions about our company
>>or our patents, we welcome them to call us," Mr. Berman said. "This is
>>not a shakedown. This is not an adversarial process."
>>Mr. Berman said letters had gone out to colleges of all types and sizes,
>>although he named only DeVry University and Capella University among
>>those that were sent letters.
>>Among the colleges that have received letters from Acacia is Eastern
>>Michigan University. Ward Mullens, associate director of communications
>>for the university, said the university's lawyers were reviewing the
>>letter and mulling their next move.
>>Bill Simpson, president of John Wood Community College, in Illinois, also
>>got a letter. "It's before my legal counsel," he said. "I'm waiting to
>>see what other colleges do and see how they are responding. I'm not sure
>>that we are liable." Mr. Simpson said he had met with officials at
>>Southeastern Community College, in Iowa, which also got a letter, to
>>discuss how to respond.
>>Virgil Varvel, a computer-assisted-instruction specialist for the
>>University of Illinois system, said that his university had not received
>>a letter as far as he knew, but that he would dread getting one. The
>>university doesn't charge for some of the online content it offers.
>>Online courses are "already a borderline return of investment," he said.
>>"We would have to stop doing what we're doing."
>Media Resources Center
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