Quite a few people and organizations believe that the Acacia patents are
invalid and will eventually be overthrown. The Electronic Frontier
Foundation, for example, lists Acacia among their Top Ten abusive
More background is at
That last item is worth keeping an eye on, since it's a blog that's
tracking developments specifically on the Acacia patent. It also has
links to other resources, including the "Markman Order" issued in
July by a California court which found some of the Acacia claims
While interesting and perhaps even encouraging with respect to the
eventual invalidation of Acacia's patents, this background doesn't
tell you how to deal with an infringement claim received today. The
legal risks and options should be explained by a competent attorney,
and then an institutional decision made. The situation is not
straightforward as, for example, State institutions may be in a position
to claim immunity under the 11th Amendment to the US Constitution.
You have at least two sources of assistance. Jason Schultz of the
EFF ([log in to unmask]) has offered to speak with any campus that has
received an infringement claim from Acacia. In addition, Wes Blakeslee
of Johns Hopkins ([log in to unmask]) is coordinating action from a group
of campuses and, I believe, is still willing to accept new members
of the group. Wes requests all inquiries to be made by e-mail and
only by counsel for the institution (there are issues of attorney-client
Steven L. Worona
Director of Policy and Networking Programs
EDUCAUSE / 1150 18th St. NW suite 1010 / Washington, DC 20036
202-872-4200 x 5358 / 202-872-4318 fax / [log in to unmask]
At 10:24 AM -0400 8/30/04, Dr. Frank Moore wrote:
>Greetings from Virginia y'all,
>We received the same letter from Acacia. I sent it on to the Attorney
>General's office and they are formulating a plan of attack for the public
>higher ed's in the Commonwealth.
>I have the same concerns about the "over-reaching" aspect of these patents.
>I will keep the list apprised of what we do.
>F. X. Moore III, Ph.D.
>Assistant Vice President for
>Information and Instructional Technology
>and Associate Professor of French
>201 High Street
>Farmville, VA 23909
>PLEASE NOTE NEW E-MAIL ADDRESS
>[log in to unmask]
>From: The EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group Listserv
>[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Roger Lawson
>Sent: Monday, August 30, 2004 9:59 AM
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Re: [CIO] Patent Infringement - Acacia Media Tech Corp
>I understand that the deadline to avoid a threatened Acacia lawsuit
>is only couple of weeks away, and I was wondering what other schools
>I do not have a legal or intellectual property background, but have
>been asked for technical advice. I admit to being puzzled by the
>I find it hard to believe that their purchased patent passes muster.
>As I understand it, they claim that the 1991 patent covers all
>demand-based media streaming . This is amazing to me. Weren't we
>doing demand media (voice) streaming with our digital phone and
>voicemail systems in the 1980s? Didn't newsgroup binaries support on
>demand media downloads in the 1980s?
>Also, I'm puzzled that they are going after the customers
>(universities) of the technology, not the folks (Microsoft, Apple,
>Real, etc.) who are selling products that incorporate it. If someone
>had a patent on a new automotive technology and discovered GM was
>using it, should they go after every GM customer, or GM? Is this
>some sort of cynical strategy to go after the more vulnerable, i.e.
>more likely to cave to avoid legal costs?
>Our attorneys, like others, are working with Wes Blakeslee's legal
>group for formulating a defense strategy. I am inclined to recommend
>sending them a nice letter saying we believe in patent law and
>honoring patents, but don't know what specific applications they are
>talking about or why they are contacting us since we use technology
>licensed by Microsoft, Real, Apple, etc. Or something like that.
>Clearly, I'm no lawyer...
>What should the IT position on this matter be?
>Roger A. Lawson, Director http://www.uvm.edu/~ral
>Computing & Information Technology University of Vermont
>email: [log in to unmask] tel: (802) 656-1175 fax: 656-0872
> Stay informed about UVM information technology
> with the IT Newsletter: http://www.uvm.edu/cit/IT-news/
>Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent
>Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/cg/.
>Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/cg/.
Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/cg/.