Court Strikes Acacia's Remaining ‘Streaming Media’ Patents

SAN JOSE, Calif.—After six long years, the remaining family of “streaming media” patents owned by Acacia Media Technologies has been invalidated by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Originally fought by several adult companies grouped under the Joint Defense Group—including Homegrown Video, New Destiny and Video Secrets—this latest and last challenge to Acacia’s patents involved a case brought by Acacia against leading satellite and cable companies Echostar, DirectTV, Time Warner Cable and CSC Holdings, Inc.

According to the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), “Invalidation by litigation is a different process for busting a patent than the reexamination procedure that EFF uses, but the end result is the same: the patent is ended and harassment of others using the patented technology must cease.”

EFF and many others had maintained all along that Acacia’s streaming media patents were invalid, claiming:

* Laughably broad patents would cover everything from online distribution of home movies to scanned documents and MP3s;

* Patent claims threaten dozens of small companies, including many home-grown adult websites;

* Infringement campaign threatens to chill freedom of expression by limiting small companies' and individuals' ability to stream their content online.

The opinion was rendered Sept. 15 by Judge James Ware, who noted, “When evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the court views the evidence through the prism of the evidentiary standard of proof that would pertain at trial … Generally, an issued patent enjoys a presumption of validity that can be overcome only by clear and convincing evidence of invalidity. Thus, a party seeking to invalidate a patent by a motion for summary judgment must submit clear, convincing and undisputed evidence of invalidity.

“Although Acacia has submitted additional declaration and has asked the Court to modify its claim constructions,” Ware continued, “Acacia agrees that … each of the asserted claims is invalid as a matter of law. The Court is not persuaded to modify its claim constructions. Based on its constructions and the stipulation of Acacia, the Court finds that each asserted claim is invalid for indefiniteness.”

With that, the judge granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment, ending one of the most enduring legal challenges in adult entertainment history.