Burst Squeezing Apple Over Patents

    April 18, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Apple sued Burst in January 2006 and sought a declaratory judgment to invalidate Burst’s patents on video and audio real-time delivery technology, and now Burst has responded with a counterclaim seeking damages, royalties, and an end to Apple’s infringement.

Burst Squeezing Apple Over Patents
Burst Responds To Apple Complaint In Kind

Burst alleges that Apple’s iTunes Music Store, iTunes software, the iPod media players, and Apple’s QuickTime Streaming products infringe on patents owned by Burst, and the company wants to put an end to Apple’s infringement.

The company came out ahead in a lawsuit against Microsoft last year, garnering a $60 million settlement and a license to use Burst technology. In its April 17 filing, Burst alleges that its technology has been essential to Apple’s success, providing it with a critical audio and video-on-demand media delivery solution.

Apple never licensed the Burst technology when it launched the iPod and iTunes four years ago. They have led the company back to profitability thanks to the generous margins Apple enjoys on sales of its iPod hardware.

Said Burst.com Chairman & CEO Richard Lang: “While we had hoped to avoid litigation and negotiate a reasonable license fee, it is Apple’s own actions that have forced our hand. We now look to the courts to reaffirm Burst’s rights as innovators and to be paid fairly for our widely acknowledged contributions to the industry.”

In late 2004, Burst sent Apple copies of its patents and a request that Apple consider licensing its technology. Though the companies have talked about such licensing, they never found a common ground for agreeing on terms.

The Burst technology patents cover methods for delivering audio or video content at faster than playback speed, essentially a speedy download of that content. Burst filed those patents in 1988 and received the first one in 1990.

The company then demonstrated its technology in 1991, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Burst claims it met with Apple employees at that time and had contact with them through parts of that year. “Certainly no later than the year 2000, Apple became aware of Burst’s patents,” Burst said in its counterclaim.

Some have drawn parallels between the Burst/Apple battle and the one between Research In Motion and NTP Technologies. That case ended with a settlement that paid NTP $612.5 million. Damages from Apple in a favorable decision for Burst could be worth $200 million or more, a Burst lawyer noted in BusinessWeek.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.