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2002 video streaming patent holder sues Amazon and Twitch

Both companies knew about the patent, claims lawsuit

Media solutions company BSD Crown, best known for video encoding products as well as building Android smartphones in the Noughties, has filed a lawsuit against Amazon and livestreaming offshoot Twitch, claiming the pair infringed its patent.

The Israeli company, formerly known as Emblaze, previously sued both Apple and Microsoft over the very same video-streaming technology patent – US No 6,389,473 (aka '473), which covers an HTTP livestreaming standard known as HLS.

In a complaint filed [PDF] last week, BSD Crown claimed its patent's use of HTTP instead of other protocols had been "contrarian" at the time. The filing added: "That protocol, in comparison to other others used at the time, was not believed to be optimal to maintain high quality video broadcasts."

The standard is related to the transmission of real-time audio and video to one or more devices, "where necessary, adjusting video quality based on changing bandwidth."

The filing continues that " and Twitch knew, or should have known, that the adaptive multibit rate technology of the '473 patent was foundational to the Amazon and Twitch streaming systems. Even a cursory review of the '473 patent by Amazon and Twitch's patent counsel would have shown that the Amazon (e.g. AWS Elemental Media Services) and Twitch livestreaming systems infringe the '473 patent."

Previous actions

In 2010, Emblaze sued Microsoft for allegedly breaching the patent with its home-brewed Smooth Streaming tech in Silverlight – remember Silverlight? The parties agreed to drop the suit in 2015.

Emblaze also hit Apple with a sueball that year, accusing it of breaching the patent with HTTP Live Streaming on its iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad as well as the Mac OS X Snow Leopard platform. The claim at the time was that Apple "induced" other media companies, including ESPN, to breach Emblaze's patent on video-streaming technology.

BSD's lawyers noted that the Apple lawsuit went to trial and that in July 2014, the jury found the patent was not invalid, but said it was also "not infringed due to reasons specific to Apple's streaming standard at the time which are not relevant to Defendants' systems and services in this case."

In the fresh complaint, BSD claimed that Amazon knew about the '473 patent by at least 2015 or sooner through its own patent filings. On March 2, 2015, Amazon filed its own video streaming patent titled "Processing of Long Running Processes" through the help of its patent lawyers. It claimed there was at least one rejection of a claim based on prior art which included its own patent, stating: "Extensive prosecution history, all primarily based on the '473 Patent, demonstrates that at least had knowledge of the '473 Patent."

Emblaze was founded in 1994 and, BSD claims in the suit, innovated streaming technology that now "powers the majority of live broadcasts."

We've asked Amazon for comment. ®

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