Intellectual Property, Intergraph and Acacia

How can Acacia claim to own Video and Audio transfer over the internet?


How can Intergraph sue Intel’s client companies for purchasing the product that Intel has settled out of court over a patent dispute involving a pentium? Are Dell, HP, etc… liable for Intel’s patent infringement?


Welcome to the Land of Lawyers.

Dell, HP, etc. are liable for their own infringement. More than one company can infringe a patent. Just because Intel settled, it doesn’t mean all claims against other infringers are extinguished.

It looks a little strange because the companies are using Intel’s chips, but a company that uses an infringing device can be an infringer just as much as the company who sells the infringing device.

Zoff, if that is so, that sounds like one of the best cases for tort reform that I’ve ever heard. I am running an Intel chip right now, I use my computer to make a profit, so does that mean I am guilty of copyright infringement? This sort of shit is what really makes me think that we need to start seriously rethinking our entire idea of intellectual property.


One of the battles that’s going on right nowin the radio industry is who owes money to whom for streaming music over the internet and, if money is owed, how much?
Radio stations already pay a performance royalty but there are legal fights over another type: sound royalties. If you stream music over the internet, you may have to pay the RIAA (technically SoundExchange) not for the right to broadcast the performance, but because the sound itself is copyrighted. Radio stations complain that this shouldn’t happen. They already pay one royalty, why pay a second for doing the exact same thing?

The point is that intellectual property is somewhat strange when dealing with the internet. I cannot say I’m all that familiar with the Acacia situation. From what I’m understanding, Acacia developed a way to stream things over the internet that a good portion of the industry uses. Those businesses bought the program from Acacia in the first place (I’m assuming…if not it’s outright theft). Acacia now wants to get a % everytime someone uses the program.

One can make an analogy on this in two different ways depending on how you look at the situation

  1. This is like a car. You buy the car outright at the dealership and it takes you where you want to go. Ford can’t then bill you later on for those 12 trips you took to the supermarket. You own the car and you can do what you like with it. They can’t charge you extra.
  2. This is like the post office. No real upfront cost but if you want to send a letter it’s going to cost you. It will cost you every time you want to send a letter. “But I bought an automated stamp machine!” isn’t a valid argument. It still costs you per use because the Post Office wants money for every transaction you make.

Which analogy is more valid? I don’t know.

As far as Acacia is concerned, it seems to me that they are claiming to hold the patent to the idea of streaming media in general. I can stream stuff on the internet using open source and freeware technology. Does Acacia REALLY own the patent to the idea of digital streaming?


Again, to me this seems incredible, however I don’t know the laws on these sorts of things, or the whole story for that matter. However, I think that both of these suits are highly incredible. Hopefully someone with more legal expertise can clue me in on it.


I looked into the cases and I think the author of the article you linked to is a little confused. Intergraph filed two lawsuits against Intel – one in Texas relating to parallel instruction computing (PIC) patents and one in Alabama relating to Clipper patents. The Texas suit was the one that was recently settled.

The lawsuit against Dell, HP and Gateway relates to the Clipper patents, not the PIC patents as the article seems to imply. The Clipper patents appear to claim computer systems, rather than a single chip. If the patents are found to be valid and the companies are building systems that infringe, then they are liable. Whether or not Intel is found to infringe the Clipper patents doesn’t necessarily effect the infringement analysis of other computer makers.

As for Acacia, they seem to believe that even though their patent issued before the explosion of the internet they have a patent broad enough to cover the manner in which data is transferred over the internet. I believe British Technology made a similar claim, but was unsuccessful. I don’t know anything about the patents, so I don’t know if Acacia will succeed or crash and burn.

The Acacia case is not going to fly. I have only looked at one of the patents, it was way too broad, with lots of components described in very vague terms but there are no actual protocols or algorithms for any of these. There are some “diagrams” which don’t help much.

Another thing is, if their patent is valid, which I doubt, they failed to exercise it for too long. It’s just like the JPEG case where some company was trying to collect royalties when none has been collected for years. And in the JPEG case they actually have a valid patent.

Well, the Acacia case worries me more than the Intergraph case as Acacia seems to be more broad. However, I’d like to see Intergraph fail as well, I don’t think it would be healthy for our economy to have all these companies paying out massive back royalties.

Thanks for your explanations though.