Real gets streaming media patent
Apple and Microsoft are bracing themselves for a hefty bill which is expected to land on their doormats.
Following the news that Real Networks has been awarded a patent for streaming multimedia content over the Internet, the industry giants are like to receive a demand for licence payments stretching back over a decade.
The Real patent – 6,985,932 also known as ‘Click to Stream’ – covers the method by which content is streamed over the Internet and begins playing on a target device before all the packets in the file are received. According to Real, the patent covers all types of hardware device from mobile phones through to personal computers and other digital devices.
The patent is backdated to November 1994 – more than four months before Real Networks introduced its first RealAudio player to the world.
As with the Eolas patent that covers the embedding of autorunning applets on web pages the Real patent could not only affect the media players from Real’s biggest rivals. It would also touch web browser pages, embedded multimedia advertising, and links managed by network- enabled software media players.
Real says that more than 50 companies, including Nokia, Motorola, Novell, Red Hat, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and Sun Microsystems, have licensed Real’s Helix DNA software and patented technology to build media-enabled products.
Noticeable by their absence from the list are Real’s biggest competitors in the streamed media sector – Apple and Microsoft. Apple’s Quicktime and iTunes and Microsoft’s Windows Media Player make use of streaming technology to deliver multimedia to the viewer whilst content is being received over the Internet.
Doubtless, Real’s lawyers will be drawing up a demand for back payment of royalties running into the millions to be delivered soon. However, although a patent may be granted, it is only validated through the court process – something that Apple and Microsoft will likely instigate should they receive that royalty bill through their letterbox.