April 17, 2006 5:43 PM PDT

Burst.com sues Apple for patent infringement

Burst.com has filed a countersuit against Apple Computer claiming that the iTunes software, the iPod and the Quicktime streaming software all infringe on patents held by Burst.com, Burst announced Monday.

After being approached by Burst.com in late 2004, Apple had filed for a declaratory judgment in January that it isn't infringing on Burst's patents, but Burst is going ahead with its lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court in San Francisco. Burst is asking for royalties as well as an injunction, it said in a press release.

Burst has developed software that helps companies speed up the delivery of audio and video files over a network. The company was involved in a similar patent infringement dispute with Microsoft last year that ended with a $60 million settlement and a Microsoft license to the Burst technology.

Apple and Burst had held discussions over the past year regarding the patents but never came to any licensing agreement. Apple doesn't believe the patents are valid, it said in January.

Richard Lang, co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Burst, said the company's patented technology involves the delivery of music or video over the Internet "faster than real-time." A television program over a broadcast network is delivered in real-time, meaning an hour-long show is delivered over the course of an hour. But Burst holds patents that cover sending an hour-long video across a network in a few minutes, in addition to other technology involved in delivering that video or audio content, he said.

Three of the four patents at issue in the new lawsuit are the same as the ones involved in the Microsoft suit, Lang said. An Apple representative did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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Burst.com Inc., patent, patent infringement, Apple Computer, Apple QuickTime

24 comments

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'Microsoft Patents Ones, Zeros"
No, I'm not bashing MS, but does anyone else remember that
article from The Onion? Strangely prescient.

Based on the claims from this blurb, that Burst patented delivery
of media fast than realtime, this sounds amazing. I've been
inspired to pursue a patent outlining my plans to use 'a web
server' to send vast amounts of 'written words' to a recipient in
less time than those same words could be 'read aloud'.

Anyone with me?
Posted by TheFergus (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not quite unbelievable...
While at first the Burst claims sound amazing, even hilarious (picture this: seeing the Nightly News before it actually happens!), I suspect the notion is to deliver pre-recorded content, so that the hour of a movie or similar would actually only take, say, twelve minutes to download. While I doubt Burst is alone, or even the inventor, of this technology, the argument is over the specific patent in question. This implies that Apple has used the same methods and perhaps even code to achieve the goal of rapid transmission of information.

Obviously, your analogy of sending written words faster than they could be spoken isn't quite the same thing. Nor, I'm certain, is Burst inferring that they've invented a time machine. Besides, even the lowly fax machine can send a page faster than it could be read, and it'll send it in the same exact language as the original due to the patented "language transmogrifier" that I recently patented!

Or is your real name Mike Cox and I've been had by your sarcasm?

Cheers.
Posted by TransplantGuy (249 comments )
Link Flag
Check out the U.S. Patent Office...
I was searching patent records the other day for an invention I recently designed (no, not ones and zeros). It's really interesting to see the complexity of some inventions (and no doubt the lawyers' minds as well), and yet I also located a patent on a simple, four-wheeled device similar to the "walkers" you see elderly folks with. I think part of the problem the USPTO is now facing with these technology lawsuits is that in the past one could pretty much patent anything since the searching procedure was inadequate when trying to locate "previous art". Thus the ability to patent what is little more than an ordinary chair with a wheeled caster on each leg!

Check out <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.uspto.gov/patft/index.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.uspto.gov/patft/index.html</a> to see what I mean!

Cheers.
Posted by TransplantGuy (249 comments )
Link Flag
Sure!
And then we could sue CNet for infringing on the patent as they helped us to meet to get the patent. Talk about paradox.

There is nothing innovative about software patents. Nor is there anything innovative about mathematical patentns. And, yes, the USPTO is awarding them.

A meathod of obtainting absolute value without branching, awarded to Sun employee in 2000:

r=(+1|(v&gt;&gt;(sizeof(int)*CHAR_BIT-1)))*v

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&#38;Sect2=HITOFF&#38;p=1&#38;u=/netahtml/search-adv.htm&#38;r=1&#38;f=G&#38;l=50&#38;d=ptxt&#38;S1=6073150&#38;OS=6073150&#38;RS=6073150" target="_newWindow">http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&#38;Sect2=HITOFF&#38;p=1&#38;u=/netahtml/search-adv.htm&#38;r=1&#38;f=G&#38;l=50&#38;d=ptxt&#38;S1=6073150&#38;OS=6073150&#38;RS=6073150</a>
link found at: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://graphics.stanford.edu/~seander/bithacks.html#IntegerAbs" target="_newWindow">http://graphics.stanford.edu/~seander/bithacks.html#IntegerAbs</a>
Posted by hawkeyeaz1 (569 comments )
Link Flag
Reverse Engineering
I hope they can prove that their binaries match Apple's, otherwise
they don't have a patent at all (I hold a few out of date patents on
stuff digitally, so I know it's about the one and zeroes and proving
they do whatever, whenever).

Besides, why don't they sue anybody who downloads anything
digitally, since that's the general assumption by their whining.
Posted by fakespam (239 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Read the patents
While it might seem clever to blindly speculate and criticize, I
think it would be simply smarter to take a look at the Burst
patents and see what they actually cover. This is a networking
technology. The idea is simple but the implementation is not.
Media data is bursty by nature, which means there are times
when it fills the entire pipe and other times when it requires very
little bandwidth. The point here is not to defy the laws of
physics but simply to keep the pipe filled 100 percent of the
time by pre-sending data during periods of lower use. That's
the idea and it makes possible Apple's "skip protection" feature
in QuickTime. But the Burst patents go quite a bit further and
cover the implemtation of such an idea. How do you decide
which bits to send ahead? How do you store them? How do you
reorder them? How do you monitor line conditions to know how
much data you can send ahead? There is a Burst application,
you know, to do all this and it is in its 3.0 version. So read the
patents, please.
Posted by Cringely (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MM CS
Much to your surprise, such algorithms existed for quite long time. They are called "scheduling algorithms" and applicable to any kind of workloads involving high latency medias.

I think hard drive cache of modern OS (as well as CPU data/instruction caches) all uses special (but very similar) algorithms (read-ahead, prefetch, speculative reads, etc).

Applying old idea to new medium - Internet - doesn't make that idea somehow new. It's just plain reimplementation.

P.S. I did something similar 15 years ago for scheduling traffic on half-duplex serial line.
Posted by Philips (400 comments )
Link Flag
MM CS
Much to your surprise, such algorithms existed for quite long time. They are called "scheduling algorithms" and applicable to any kind of workloads involving high latency medias.

I think hard drive cache of modern OS (as well as CPU data/instruction caches) all uses special (but very similar) algorithms (read-ahead, prefetch, speculative reads, etc).

Applying old idea to new medium - Internet - doesn't make that idea somehow new. It's just plain reimplementation.

P.S. I did something similar 15 years ago for scheduling traffic on half-duplex serial line.
Posted by Philips (400 comments )
Link Flag
MM CS
Much to your surprise, such algorithms existed for quite long time. They are called "scheduling algorithms" and applicable to any kind of workloads involving high latency medias.

I think hard drive cache of modern OS (as well as CPU data/instruction caches) all uses special (but very similar) algorithms (read-ahead, prefetch, speculative reads, etc).

Applying old idea to new medium - Internet - doesn't make that idea somehow new. It's just plain reimplementation.

P.S. I did something similar 15 years ago for scheduling traffic on half-duplex serial line.
Posted by Philips (400 comments )
Link Flag
Patent Infringement
There is a difference between copying code and "infringement" of a patented idea. MS's 60M$ payment seems of a size to only cover the idea part. It is relatively easy to independently come up with similar ideas - only the first to patent gets to claim "infringement" - a real flaw in our system, as the first to creat a successful prototype can still be found to have "infringed" an earlier idea-patent. (Like the absurdity of violating a hypothetical patent of a faster-than-light drive simply by creating one that actually works.) The other flaw in the system is that the Pat.Office simply does not have the staff or expertise to check all sources (even if obvious to an expert) to determine whether the idea really is unigue, or if it has already been public knowledge.
Posted by LwBrown5 (13 comments )
Link Flag
Which Patents
That is the problem I am having trying to give an educated opinion. I can't find in a single news article (yet) where it states the patents they are infringing on.

I have found an old patent that someone said was the one in question, but it can not be as it is more for a VCR type device.
Posted by grossph (172 comments )
Link Flag
Apple Sites Burst
I search the USPTO site for burst.com. Apple actually references Burst in one of its applications. So I am not so sure who is at fault now. if the USPTO gives you a patent and makes a mistake. who has to pay?
Posted by grossph (172 comments )
Link Flag
Too many claims to read
While it sounds sensible to say "read the patent" the reality is a
bit different. According to the Burst's answer and counterclaim,
available at Burst.com, there are three patents involved. I took a
quick look at them, and they contain a total of 181 claims.

Burst's patents
4,963,995 (the 995 Patent); 80 claims
5,164,839 (the 839 Patent); 77 claims, and
5,995,705 (the 705 Patent); 24 claims, = 181 claims total

The patent claims are what is legally significant, they define the
scope of the invention, and what the inventor can keep others
from doing without permission.

If you have the time to read the patents and analyze them, you
are either: a) an Intellectual Property attorney that has an
interest in this field, b) a journalist at a very successful
publication that can pay you to take a few days to figure it out,
c) a scientist / engineer working in the same field, or d)
someone who retired from one of the above.

As for the rest of us, we cannot evaluate the validity of the
patents and the likelihood that Apple would be found to be
infringing them. We will just have to wait and see.
Posted by ReasonableGuy (98 comments )
Link Flag
 

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