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Apple, Burst Reach Settlement 74

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the money-to-grease-the-wheels dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In 2005, Microsoft settled Burst's lawsuit for infringements on media player patents for $60 million. Many thought that Apple would be a ripe target next. However, Apple successfully voided 14 out of 36 Burst.com's patent claims in their iPod lawsuit. Apple would have gone after the remaining 22 claims. Today, Market Wire announced that the case was settled out of court: "Apple agreed to pay Burst a one-time payment of $10 million cash in exchange for a non-exclusive license to Burst's patent portfolio, not including one issued U.S. patent and 3 pending U.S. patent applications related to new DVR technology. Burst agreed not to sue Apple for any future infringement of the DVR patent and any patents that might issue from the pending DVR-related applications." The big winner would be the lawyers who reduced the settlement to approximately $4.6 million."
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Apple, Burst Reach Settlement

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  • by timmarhy (659436) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @11:22PM (#21450843)
    ... everytime a company settles like this.
    • by rucs_hack (784150)
      This didn't really help the Patent Troll at all. Ten Million? When they went after Apple? Hah..

      They got the corporate equivilent of 'here, have a dollar, now piss off and stop sleeping on my lawn'. The lawyers got most of it anyway, and even for them it wouldn't be much. It only sounds like a lot to ordinary people.

      And they lost 14 patents. If they pull this stunt again they might lose more. Honestly it seems it might be worth more to sell these patents then try this another time.
      • by SEE (7681)
        Eh. Remember, they only got $60 million from Microsoft.

        Let's assume that Burst was scaling its payoff demands to each company's earnings (which is a fairly common metric). In that case, with the Microsoft settlement having been $60 million, the amount Burst would have been looking for from an Apple settlement would have been about $15 million. $10 million isn't a heck of a lot less than that.
        • by DECS (891519)
          Well that's wrong as Apple makes more money from its media efforts than Microsoft does. Microsoft licenses Windows and Office profitably, and loses money on everything else, including its WinCE/Xbox/Live/Windows Media/Windows Mobile businesses. Apple makes money on Macs, iPods, iPhone, and music/video distribution.

          Microsoft's Three High Profit Monopolies [roughlydrafted.com].

          If Burst had any real claims, Apple would have been the fat target to jump on. When Microsoft settled for $60 million, it appeared clear that Burst expect
          • by SEE (7681)
            Well that's wrong as Apple makes more money from its media efforts than Microsoft does. Microsoft licenses Windows and Office profitably

            Right, because the inclusion of Windows Media Player and Windows Media Services with Windows for [unspecified, magical reason] didn't expose Microsoft's Windows license revenue to Burst's claims at all. I understand.

            it appeared clear that Burst expected to jump from Microsoft into big money with Apple, and pundits threw around numbers like $1 billion.

            Some blovating morons
            • Window Media player provides no revenue ands is provided in Europe sans WMP. Apple provides Quicktime Streaming Server for free as open source. Now consider the media products (hardware) and services (music/video stores) each company provides to consumers and how much revenue they derive from that. In the media distribution business, Apple dwarfs MSFT.
    • by puck13 (102616)
      If Cringely [pbs.org] is to be believed, and I have no reason not to, Burst is in the right here, having filed the patents long before Apple's infringing technology came along.

      Note that I am an Apple fan, and have been using MacOS for 20 years. In this case they're pretty clearly in the wrong.
  • by RealGrouchy (943109) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @11:27PM (#21450869)
    "The big winner would be the lawyers whose fees reduced the settlement to approximately $4.6 million."

    There. Fixed that up a bit.

    - RG>
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      More like the big winner would be Burst, who can collect future licensing fees from other companies, since they will continue to hold the remaining 22 patent claims.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tehwebguy (860335)
        Indeed -- hopefully the next company they sue will go the whole nine yards and end this.
      • Another hurdle? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BearRanger (945122)
        To Apple, Burst now represents an additional barrier to entry into the same market. It won't make a difference necessarily to a large company, but a small potentially more innovative competitor will now have to pay off Burst before using similar features. It seems that Apple's lawyers could have taken out all of the patents, given how successful they were with the 14 they invalidated. They took out just enough to reduce their liability, paid Burst a token sum, and then left Burst enough ammo to challenge
    • by aussie_a (778472)
      Thankyou for that clarification, it was a bit ambiguous.
  • So far, from my layman's perspective, my Tivo can pwn burst for some of its products. Ahh the business circle of lawsuits... or was it life. I'm not sure here.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2007 @01:46AM (#21451459)
    Back in 1998/9 when Burst thought they had a 'novel' idea, they were making the rounds pimping their wares (so to say) to all the large satellite broadband providers and anyone else in the video and content delivery industries.

    They tried for an NDA, but the company I was at didn't believe in signing anything to preview some software from a bunch of nobodies. Their software was alpha quality at best, the so-called 'SDK' didn't exist (IIRC the one 'document' provided with the photocopy-labeled cdrom), and the components were nothing more than a simple windows server and client providing a delivery pipe. They also couldn't seem to grasp the fact that one-way satellite networks did not have a backchannel. Yes friends, you need to get your files to the other side with a unidirectional transport. You could compare this to someone giving you ftp.exe+ftpd.exe and telling you you should license them for P2P delivery.

    I ended up tossing their stuff aside because after about a dozen emails attempting to educate people on the deficiencies of their system one just has to well.. give up. The only novel point was their 'instant on', but most datacasters like us already had this kind of technology, or didn't need it period. I will say that the demo was canned and only used a few codecs. So it was very hard to ascertain the level of bullshit in the client-server demo.

    Regardless, I now find it extremely interesting that they are sueing people who signed NDAs with them and/or had talks with them. I am sure other companies had the same experience we did. What a bunch of douchebags.
  • Did Burst ever make use of their own IP to do anything useful? I think that is the true test of the troll, that you sit on progress and make people pay you for thinking up crock.
  • Ballmer (Score:2, Insightful)

    If I was Ballmer, I'd be throwing chairs at my incompetent attorneys. They wasted over $50 million by not picking apart Burst's patents and settling for way too much money.
  • by rilister (316428) on Friday November 23, 2007 @01:37PM (#21454983)
    Whoah people. Burst didn't win this one by my reckoning. $10m is a tiny fraction of what they hoped to get by enforcing their patents across the 100 gazillion iPods that Apple is 'infringing' their patents with.

    I'd call this:
    Burst: Pay us $1bn dollars, or we'll take a license off every iPod that you ever sell.
    Apple: FOAD. We'll send our lawyer hoards after your patents, dumbasses.
    Burst: Pay us! Pay us now!

    Apple: OK, how many more of your patents do you want us to wipe off the face of the earth?
    Burst: erm, how about $10m?
    Apple: Since that's less than our lawyers fees, ok. Don't EVER try that again.

    • That was not only funny but insightful. Apple effectively crippled their patent trolling for future companies by invalidating most of them. I believe that it was cheaper to settle quickly, receive licenses for remaining existing patents and get an agreement for no future lawsuits on pending patents than to go after the remaining patents one by one.

"It is better to have tried and failed than to have failed to try, but the result's the same." - Mike Dennison

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