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Apple Sues Burst.com in iTunes Patent Dispute 146

An anonymous reader writes "Burst.com, a patent holder of many patents covering streaming video and time-shifting of video, has been sued by Apple after license negotiations broke down. Apple is asking the court to invalidate Burst.com's patents. Burst.com is the same company that successfully sued Microsoft over patent infringements. Many comparisons will likely be made of NTP and Burst.com, but Burst.com actually has useful technology, has owned the patents for over a decade, and most importantly, actually had highly regarded products that made use of the patents."
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Apple Sues Burst.com in iTunes Patent Dispute

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  • Burst.com (Score:5, Funny)

    by nother_nix_hacker ( 596961 ) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:00PM (#14412967)
    So do we like Burst.com or not....I a little lost on this one.
    • by springbox ( 853816 ) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:03PM (#14412999)
      Usually when presented with an neutral report, it is best to form your own opinion.
    • Deflector (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Elixon ( 832904 )
      In our country we say: "You will die by the think you often use." (hard to translate in english :-( ) Simply said: Apple suffers from the weapon it actively uses against others.
      • In English there is one:

        He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.

        If you want to get Biblical:

        "...by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you." (Jesus in Matthew 7:2)

        I think a lot of cultures have phrases that carry that basic feeling that what goes around comes around (see, there's another one).
        • Re:Deflector (Score:3, Insightful)

          by c_forq ( 924234 )
          Go a little further in Matthew:
          Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
          Mat 26:52 (KJV)
          • Re:Deflector (Score:3, Interesting)

            Ironically, this was taken not as a warning, but as a comfort to most medieval knights. They, like the vikings, preferred this as a means of death to sickness, etc. Hence the use of swords when executing nobility.

            -WS
    • by coolgeek ( 140561 )
      Well, all I know is we like Apple, and Apple hates Burst.com, so you do the math.
      • Re:Burst.com (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by strider44 ( 650833 )
        Do you like Apple as a computer/operating systems/music box manufacturer or as a legal entity. I don't mind Apple as a computer/operating systems/music box manufacturer but I hate Apple as a legal entity. It's not that long ago that they sued their own fans for discovering "trade secrets", and it's also not that long ago that they started sueing CSIRO, a non profit pure science organisation, trying to invalidate a few of their patents relating to wireless networking.

        I say fuck Apple, go Burst.com (thou
        • Heh I was just clowning around, ya know, the enemy of my friend is my enemy kinda thing. I do like Apple for it's technology. I don't like any company that resorts to employing the legal system as a strongarm tool. I don't know either way if Apple is evil in this case or not. I do hope some of these patent-wielding shakedown companies get their asses kicked as many times as it takes until it costs more to wield a patent than they can stand to gain from the shakedown. I think that would be a huge step in the
    • We don't like Burst, but we do like patent problems for the big guys. Lots of problems. More and more, until they get the point that patents are not a Good Idea, and tell their bought and paid for politicians so.

      And if outfits like Burst have to make some patent bucks while doing it, so be it. It's a small price to pay, by Apple and Microsoft.
    • Well, since Apple is arguing that the patent should be invalidated, I'm on Apple's side in this one.

      There may well be exceptions, but there are so many bad patents that my first assumption upon hearing of a request for a patent to be declared invalid is "YEAH!!!". If someone wants to claim that they had an idea that should be protected, I'm a bit LESS likely to give credence to it if they hold a patent on it. I'll require a slightly higher level of proof.

      Of course, I'm no lawyer, and no court, either. Th
      • . . . there are so many bad patents that my first assumption . . .

        In other words, you are an nonthinking Slashdot drone who doesn't bother looking at the situation and just responds by saying, "To hell with patents?" You should try forming your own opinion. It's good for you.

    • :) Obviously facetious, however I would say 'we' don't like software patents, stifle growth, creativity, etc. Except, they don't really, but, they kinda do. So, yeah, that's our stance.
    • Re:Burst.com (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot.kadin@x ... inus threevowels> on Saturday January 07, 2006 @01:51AM (#14415489) Homepage Journal
      Well, speaking only for myself, no.

      Burst.com's patent -- at least according to Groklaw -- seems like it's definitely invalidated by prior art. According to this article [playbacktime.com], both Apple and Real (and possibly Microsoft) had their own versions of the same functionality, predating the patent by Burst.

      Honestly the fact that Burst.com (or whatever company it was before it became Burst.com) produced a number of useful products doesn't matter a whit to the fact that they have a crummy patent that they're obviously trying to make a buck off of. That said, I can't blame them either -- the USPTO issued this piece of trash that they're trying to litigate, and there's no way that it's going to go away unless it gets invalidated by a judge.

      The MS suit ended in what to me is a draw -- an out of court settlement where MS effectively bought Burst's cooperation. Apple doesn't have a history of doing that, so I think this time we'll see a resolution. Arguably MS's solution happened because Microsoft was under criticism for deleting evidence and not otherwise behaving fairly -- so saying that Burst's patent has been held in prior trials really doesn't wash.

      I respect Burst as a company, but based on what I've read from the Microsoft and now the Apple case, they're a company on their last legs, looking to capitalize on a few shoddy patents that they managed to get issued while someone at the USPTO wasn't doing what ought to be their job: looking for prior art. If Apple wins and Burst goes out of business, I'll be slightly sad, but not terribly upset -- when a company sinks to the level of litigating obviously general patents, they have no place staying in business. The fact that they might have made real contributions to the art of computing in the past only makes the company's death more painful, but no less necessary, to everyone involved.
  • what with filing suit and more than likely spending a good chink of the day figuring out whether or not to sue yahoo over the dashboard thing...
  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:01PM (#14412985) Homepage
    I'm so tired of hearing about all these companies whose sole purpose is to hang onto patents and so-called intellectual property. In many ways you can compare these companies to the start-ups of the dot-com bubble. And just like that bubble, sooner or later this bubble ... ...oh, skip it. To hell with it, I can't go through with it. Someone else will pick it up I'm sure.
    • by Cheapy ( 809643 ) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:02PM (#14412993)
      "And just like that bubble, sooner or later this bubble ..." will burst.com?
    • RTF Summary! (Score:3, Informative)

      by ImaLamer ( 260199 )
      And visit the website:

      http://burst.com/new/products/main.htm [burst.com]

      Burst.com doesn't just hold the patents, they are selling products which use them.
    • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Friday January 06, 2006 @07:30PM (#14413681)
      I'm so tired of hearing about all these companies whose sole purpose is to hang onto patents and so-called intellectual property.

      Burst is not one of those companies that collects patents for the purpose of suing alleged infringers.

      Burst themselves had the foresight to develop their technology a number of years ago and patent their ideas. Check out their website [burst.com] and you will see that the "faster than realtime" technology that Burst developed is the only patents that they own.

    • My God Man! I can understand not reading the article, but atleast read the entire article summary before commenting :).
    • Many comparisons will likely be made of NTP and Burst.com, but Burst.com actually has useful technology, has owned the patents for over a decade, and most importantly, actually had highly regarded products that made use of the patents.

      Not reading the article is bad enough, the headline... though?
  • NTP does too (Score:3, Informative)

    by feijai ( 898706 ) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:07PM (#14413034)
    NTP's patent holders made actual products based on the products, and held them for over a decade as well. Burst is different in what regard again?
    • Re:NTP does too (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:14PM (#14413100)
      Dude, you're criticizing a Slashdot news summary. A summary on Slashdot is supposed to contain a blaring headline that may or may not be accurate followed by a body of text that tells a "story." The story should leave on a goofy "cliffhanger" as a lead-in to comments. In this case, ooh, Burst has had the patents for a decade, ooh, they've made apps! What will happen! Ooh! Cliffhanger! It's all for page hits and ad rates.
      • Dude, you're criticizing a Slashdot news summary. A summary on Slashdot is supposed to contain a blaring headline that may or may not be accurate followed by a body of text that tells a "story." The story should leave on a goofy "cliffhanger" as a lead-in to comments. In this case, ooh, Burst has had the patents for a decade, ooh, they've made apps! What will happen! Ooh! Cliffhanger! It's all for page hits and ad rates.

        And yet here you are, obviously reading and posting on the site.

        Maynard lyrics see

        • Man, you are obviously enlightened. You quoted "Maynard lyrics" at me! You're so hip, you don't even refer to it by the name of the Tool song, and you refer to the singer by an eponymous first name! You wouldn't be more educated if you had quoted "Trent lyrics" at me too.

          You probably don't even know what that song is about. Yes, here I am, reading and posting on the site. And here you are. Meanwhile, my points still stand unrefuted.

          Next.
  • Serious question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:12PM (#14413079)
    Let's say Apple successfully gets one of Burst's patents revoked, and it was one which Microsoft was successfully sued for breach of.

    Does this mean Microsoft can now go and sue Burst to get their money back?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      No. But they could ask the original court to reverse its ruling. That would only be possible if the patent(s) is/are actually invalidated, not just Apple and Burst reaching some new licensing agreement pursuant to the litigation. Unfortunately, the court system hates to go back on any prior ruling, even when it makes no sense to maintain the ruling (rock-hard contradictory evidence coming to light, blatant lying by public officials proven indisputably, etc.). So, MS may be SOL. But MS has been on the w
      • No. But they could ask the original court to reverse its ruling.

        If memory serves, Microsoft settled. There was no court ruling.

        That would only be possible if the patent(s) is/are actually invalidated, not just Apple and Burst reaching some new licensing agreement pursuant to the litigation.

        Even if there were a court ruling in a case such as this, it's not likely that the court would reverse itself even if the patent was later invalidated. Microsoft would have had the same opportunity to ask the US

    • The link to the settlement article in the old thread is gone so I can't say for sure, but it depends on the settlement. In all likelihood it was a "Okay, we'll give you X dollars if we get a liscence to all your technologies and you go away" type deal, in which case Microsoft pretty much gets screwed, since all they have are liscence rights to a patent that's been invalidated. But it really does depend on the conditions of the settlement.
    • Typically, the payments are kept by the patentee. However, if there are allegations of procurement of the patent through fraud upon the PTO then there can be a good cause to sue for restitution, or even an antitrust action under Walker Process
    • Does this mean Microsoft can now go and sue Burst to get their money back?

      Not likely. MS cut a deal, and I'm sure that the deal included an agreement not to re-open the matter if Burst lost their patent down the road.

      -jcr

  • Organize . Don't pay them ! Serious.
  • Apple deserves it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by geekee ( 591277 )
    Apple refuses to license their technology to allow others to sell DRMed music that plays on iPod. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, they're whining about it.
    • Apple doesn't support other companies' propreitary DRM systems and it's their fault?
      • "Apple doesn't support other companies' propreitary DRM systems and it's their fault?"

        No, as I said before, Apple refuses to license their proprietary DRM scheme to 3rd parties so they can make DRMed music files that work on iPod. There's nothing wrong with that, but now when another company refuses to license their technology to Apple, Apple starts suing. In short, Apple is hypocritical.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      How exactly is this post deemed "Insightful"? This is completely different.

      1. Apple developed the iPod, iTunes and FairPlay to all work seemlessly together. Other companies want in, but Apple wants to provide the complete solution alone. Nothing wrong there. (Think of Ford crying foul if they wanted to use Ferrari engines. Ferrari's not obligated to let Ford use their engines.)

      2. Burst.com thinks that Apple is infringing on their patents, so they hit up Apple for a license. Apple thinks their patents are bo
      • by geekee ( 591277 )
        "1. Apple developed the iPod, iTunes and FairPlay to all work seemlessly together. Other companies want in, but Apple wants to provide the complete solution alone. Nothing wrong there. (Think of Ford crying foul if they wanted to use Ferrari engines. Ferrari's not obligated to let Ford use their engines.)"

        Huh? Since when does anyone on /. advocate a closed proprietary system that doesn't interoperate with anyone elses technology.

        "2. Burst.com thinks that Apple is infringing on their patents, so they hit up
        • Huh? Since when does anyone on /. advocate a closed proprietary system that doesn't interoperate with anyone elses technology.

          I think the reason Apple has kept it a closed proprietary system is so they could get as much co-operation from content providers as possible. In other words, they probably did this to kiss the RIAA's ass so they could get the major labels onto the iTMS. By locking out third parties from the whole process of purchasing the music online to listening to it on a portable music playe

      • How exactly is this post deemed "Insightful"? This is completely different.

        1. Apple developed the iPod, iTunes and FairPlay to all work seemlessly together. Other companies want in, but Apple wants to provide the complete solution alone. Nothing wrong there


        No, that is exactly what the parent stated, it is not completely different. Apple does not want to license the technology. You can sugar coat and try to justify why but that does not change a thing. They do not want to license their technology. That i
      • A careful reading of the burst.com press release:

        The suit follows a breakdown in protracted negotiations for issuance of a license of Burst's patents to cover Apple's iPod and iTunes products. Burst anticipates responding to the complaint and filing a counterclaim for patent infringement shortly. Burst remains committed to the enforcement of its intellectual property and looks forward to successfully resolving this litigation through a license covering Apple's Quicktime, iPod and iTunes products, including

    • by jcr ( 53032 ) <[moc.cam] [ta] [rcj]> on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:53PM (#14413417) Journal
      It's not the same shoe. Apple's DRM is based on patented technology that isn't obvious. That's what's called an invention.

      -jcr
      • is apparently based on trade secrets, since Apple didn't threaten suit when Real reverse engineered the technology. Had it been a patented technology, not only would that patent be publically known (no one has cited a patent number), but Apple would no doubt be using that status to protect its interests.
    • The whole point of encryption is to make things difficult or impossible to read under certain circumstances. If you encrypt some files, then find that a random piece of hardware can't understand them, that's your fault.
  • by podperson ( 592944 ) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:33PM (#14413254) Homepage
    QuickTime was released in 1991. I think developers saw betas in late 1990 but I could be wrong. They'd demoed QuickTime as an early alpha at least one year earlier (e.g. they'd shown digital videos playing back in MacWrite documents).

    QuickTime 1.0 was followed in 1993 by 1.5 and 1.6 (which ran under Windows). By the time QuickTime 2.0 came out in 1994, you could embed quicktime videos inside a web page. QuickTime 3.0 allowed videos to start playing as soon as enough data had been downloaded, and you could stream ahead of the playback head (the way it works today). I believe QuickTime 3.0 also unified the file format (i.e. by eliminating "forked" QuickTime files where metadata was stored in the resource fork.)

    Given that Burst was founded in 1990, that its flagship product is at 2.0 (I think Apple's opensourced Darwin Streaming Server is probably a more mature product), I doubt they have a leg to stand on.

    It's ColorSync [apple.com] all over again.

    Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quicktime [wikipedia.org]
    • by hw2084 ( 938560 ) on Friday January 06, 2006 @06:54PM (#14413421)
      Given that Burst was founded in 1990, that its flagship product is at 2.0 (I think Apple's opensourced Darwin Streaming Server is probably a more mature product), I doubt they have a leg to stand on.

      Do a little bit of research first.

      The Burst patents don't cover all video streaming in general. Burst came up with and patented the streaming+caching technology that allows smooth playback of video over the internet. Before Burst, everyone would just have you download the whole file before playing, or do straight streaming which led to hiccups during playback.

      Before Burst was on the scene, video streaming was horrible because they couldn't figure out how to smooth out the slowdowns in traffic. After Burst demonstrated their technology (most famously for the U2 Popmart concert) *and* talked to Microsoft and Real about licensing their code, the next versions of their video players magically contained the same buffering technology. Apple was soon to follow, probably figuring "hey everyone else is doing it."

      • by Anonymous Coward
        And how is this in any way non-obvious?

        Even if they are first to market with something, there is almost nothing that isn't pretty trivial to most good developers. Take the top 40% of the high-tech programmers and tell them to find a way to stream video over the internet smoothly and most will solve the problem, and that's because it relatively straight-forward.
      • The Burst patents don't cover all video streaming in general. Burst came up with and patented the streaming+caching technology that allows smooth playback of video over the internet. Before Burst, everyone would just have you download the whole file before playing, or do straight streaming which led to hiccups during playback.

        Say you develop a video format that can be read without reading ahead (i.e. file doesn't have to be complete for the video to start playing).

        Say the filesystem supports multi-read/

    • Nine of Burst's ten US patents were originally assigned to Explore Technology and Instant Video Technologies. The patents were applied for in 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1997 and 2001. So, the date of Burst's founding is irrelevant to the patents they own.

      They patented things like compressing video before sending it to save bandwidth and other non-obvious concepts that only a patent attorney can parse. They mostly seem to say that if video can be streamed someday, we want to own a piece
    • In 1992, Quicktime 1.0 (for Windows kids games) hosed Soundblaster 16 under Windows 3.0
      In 1993, Quicktime 1.5 (for Windows multimedia) messed up Soundblaster 32 and Windows 3.1
      By 1994, Quicktime 1.6 (shipped w/CDROMS) screwed DOS AWE-32 sound under WFW 3.11
      By 1995, Quicktime 2.0 (for Internet audio) locked up legacy 16 bit audio drivers for Windows 95.

      If I didn't know any better, I would swear Apple was trying to get users to switch operating systems!

    • QuickTime was released in 1991.

      Burst has patents going back to 1990.

  • Many comparisons will likely be made of NTP and Burst.com, but Burst.com actually has useful technology, has owned the patents for over a decade, and most importantly, actually had highly regarded products that made use of the patents.

    That's as may be, but they're still submarining the patents and trying to leech off of a successful consumer product.

    When will the USPTO wake up and put a stop to all of this madness?
    • Is the USPTO in the Executive branch, under the President? If so, nothing will change until we flush away all of the Bushies. If our Gang of Geeks can bring a web server to its knees, we ought to be able to have an impact in an election. Make the USPTO mess an issue.
  • burst at the seams? ONE mis-step in court and it could be game over.

    News Headline: Burst BURSTS!
  • Sour apples (Score:1, Redundant)

    by CDPatten ( 907182 )
    The media loves Apple, and because of all the fan boys they start believing the hype.... "they are perfect and above all others" blah blah blah.

    Unfortunately for them they are not, and they can't brake the law. I personally don't agree with the current patent law, but it's still the law. They way to change it is through legislation not the courts. This is a frivolous lawsuit and it's unfortunate that Apple's lawyers aren't held in contempt for wasting the courts time simply because they don't want to pay
    • Re:Sour apples (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Patent troubles are resolved through the courts. That is just the rules of the game.
    • It's not breaking the law. Apple's actions may give rise to (civil) liability, but it's not breaking the law.

      Also, what makes it frivolous? Burst says their patent is valid and Apple infringes. Apple says Burst's patent is invalid and that Apple doesn't infringe (I assume, but haven't read the complaint - they may be saying only one or the other).

    • Apple were negotiating with Burst, but reached an impasse where neither side wanted to give.

      Unless we know what the impasse was over (and we will never know that as it was a confidential negotiation) then this can't be dismissed as a frivolous lawsuit.

      It could be that Burst wanted vast sums of money or it could be that Apple wanted to pay virtually nothing. We don't know.

      Not every lawsuit is a frivolous thing.
      • >> Apple were negotiating with Burst, but reached an impasse where neither side wanted to give.

        It doesn't really look like "Apple were negotiating". Burst contacted Apple to tell them they want money. Apple diligently listened to what Burst was saying, why they wanted money, and how much. I would assume that Apple's lawyers then asked Apple's engineers about their opinion: Did they develop anything using Burst's patents? Did they develop anything that was in hindsight covered by Burst's patents? Did
    • >> The media loves Apple, and because of all the fan boys they start believing the hype.... "they are perfect and above all others" blah blah blah.

      Unfortunately for them they are not, and they can't brake the law. I personally don't agree with the current patent law, but it's still the law. They way to change it is through legislation not the courts. This is a frivolous lawsuit and it's unfortunate that Apple's lawyers aren't held in contempt for wasting the courts time simply because they don't want
      • Seriously, did you read the article or is this just your reflex defense of apple? The fact Apple was willing to negotiate for the rights let's us know that the claims are valid. Apple is using Burst's technology. We know from a previous post in this thread that Burst has implemented this software in a product so it also is not a patent they just used and put on the shelf.

        Apple just doesn't want to pay. Patent infringement is patent infringement, and they are in violation. Their actions also let us kno
  • last time the won because they managed to prove that MS copied on burst technology when entering in a pre-licensing agreement. which is what patten laws are for. but this time they are simply trying to sue someone that has a similar product.

    what i mean is that won against a large corporation for a good cause, proving that someone copied on them, but this time it was something developed prior to its existance.

    Oh well i mean they are a 60Million dollard dead company so far, if they want to be a 0$ dead compan
  • Let them all sue each other into bankruptcy. Especially Apple for being the litigious assholes they are.
  • bullshit (Score:2, Interesting)

    but Burst.com actually has useful technology, has owned the patents for over a decade, and most importantly, actually had highly regarded products that made use of the patents.

    Burst.com's "technology" is an obvious engineering solution, and one that has been used for on-line multimedia distribution since before burst.com was even founded.

    Apple is right to attempt to have their basic patents invalidated; they should not stand.
  • We know that patents are bad and unnecessary for software and there is discussion going on in the software industry.

    All we need is an incubator like FFII in the United States and Software patents will be history soon. Note that in recent US patent reform discussions it was Microsoft vs. Pharma, no American stakeholder representing the software developer community or Open Source showed up. Get organised and madness will stop in the next few years.

    A first step to improve things in the States would be to get s

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