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Streaming Patent Buoys RealNetworks

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the duct-tape-and-baling-wire dept.

133

rishimathew writes writes to tell us The New York Times is reporting that RealNetworks recently received a patent for a specific way to stream multimedia content over the internet. From the article: "The patent, which is described as being for a 'multimedia communications system and method for providing audio on demand to subscribers' (No. 6,985,932), describes the idea of permitting a PC user to play back audio, video and other information on a PC. RealNetworks executives said the technology was distinguished from other similar systems by the fact that it permitted "intelligent" streaming of data in potentially congested networks."

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133 comments

Vague? (3, Funny)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193198)

Are such vague terms as 'intelligent' really allowed in Patent Lawyer speak?

Re:Vague? (1)

Metabolife (961249) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193203)

The intelligent refers to the "Buffering" statement.

Re:Vague? Only at NYT (4, Informative)

xiando (770382) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193318)

"Abstract

An audio-on-demand communication system provides real-time playback of audio data transferred via telephone lines or other communication links. One or more audio servers include memory banks which store compressed audio data. At the request of a user at a subscriber PC, an audio server transmits the compressed audio data over the communication link to the subscriber PC. The subscriber PC receives and decompresses the transmitted audio data in less than real-time using only the processing power of the CPU within the subscriber PC. According to one aspect of the present invention, high quality audio data compressed according to lossless compression techniques is transmitted together with normal quality audio data. According to another aspect of the present invention, metadata, or extra data, such as text, captions, still images, etc., is transmitted with audio data and is simultaneously displayed with corresponding audio data. The audio-on-demand system also provides a table of contents indicating significant divisions in the audio clip to be played and allows the user immediate access to audio data at the listed divisions. According to a further aspect of the present invention, servers and subscriber PCs are dynamically allocated based upon geographic location to provide the highest possible quality in the communication link." http://patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=P TO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch- bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=6985932&O S=6985932&RS=6985932 [uspto.gov] The term 'intelligent' is no where to be found in the text of the actual patent, that's just the term RealNetworks used to explain how the program which apparently does little but show the fancy text message "Buffering" works.

Re:Vague? Only at NYT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15194324)

Is there any explanation here or anywhere how this is an invention? I assume they locked the patent examiner in a time machine and forced them to evaluate the "technology" based on the standards of circa 1993 or earlier, right? (Good thing they didn't patent the time machine.)

Re:Vague? (1)

servoled (174239) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193324)

They do, but you actually have to read the patent and the claim to figure out what they are talking about instead of relying on a short summary from slashdot.

Re:Vague? (3, Funny)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193445)

Intelligent actually means something, the problem is, it's overused.

IE, your clock radio syncing up to GMT is not "intelligent," your clock radio figuring out where your hand will be when you try to hit the snooze alarm, and walking out of the way so you don't hit it, is intelligent.

Re:Vague? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193703)

Are such vague terms as 'intelligent' really allowed in Patent Lawyer speak?

My legal writing professor just gone done talking about how engineers will write "there's no way we can get around patent XYZ" to each other, then the emails get subpoenaed as non-privileged communications, and the company loses millions of dollars. Let's not be so quick to judge.

Patents stink (5, Informative)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193200)

How the hell can the patent office survive for so much longer?

This Real patent is just stupid "Click to stream", I'm actually wondering whether its announcement comes on the back of the changes Microsoft made to force people to click to activate?

They should be bouyed up by the yellow stream coming out of every web developers *censored* as they piss all over them with newer improved methods for getting the data across.

On that score, does anyone know which sites use Helix so I can blacklist them? (hosts format would be nice ;))

The article also mentions that Real shouldn't even have it anyway:

The new patent is known as a continuation patent, with additional claims based on an original filing in November 1994. One of the challenges that will confront RealNetworks in enforcing the patent is an earlier one owned by Apple Computer. Apple applied for a patent related to its QuickTime technology for streaming media in May 1994, before RealNetworks' first filing. The Apple patent, No. 5,561,670, for "method and apparatus for operating a multicast system on an unreliable network," was issued in October 1996. It appears the patent office examiners did not consider it in their evaluation of the RealNetworks patent.

grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Re:Patents stink (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193245)

Actually, RealNetworks has given a lot to the industry and have used their streaming technol

Buffering...

Re:Patents stink (3, Informative)

Psykosys (667390) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193464)

The article's point wasn't that the patent shouldn't necessarily have been granted, just that the Patent Office should have considered prior art as a factor in its decision. Real's actual patent application seems to be fairly specific, pointing to the format's inclusion of metadata, and, more importantly, lossless audio sent out simultaneously to the lossy, to be used only when enough has been buffered. I don't think Quicktime adopted the same solution.

Re:Patents stink (1)

lachlan76 (770870) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193970)

So you're saying that not stripping the ID3 tags makes it different?

Re:Patents stink (1)

Psykosys (667390) | more than 8 years ago | (#15194204)

Umm:
and, more importantly, lossless audio sent out simultaneously to the lossy, to be used only when enough has been buffered. I don't think Quicktime adopted the same solution.

Re:Patents stink (2, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15194567)

This Real patent is just stupid "Click to stream", I'm actually wondering whether its announcement comes on the back of the changes Microsoft made to force people to click to activate?

Don't worry if Real comes after Microsoft, they can just make IE "double click to stream".

OOH OOH! (3, Interesting)

TheJediGeek (903350) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193201)

Does this mean that I can patent other common internet technologies by saying that mine does it "intelligently"?

I think I'll patent instant messaging by saying that my technology "intelligently" transfers text back and forth...

Re:OOH OOH! (1)

wanchai (639398) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193243)

humbleness may help... I'd describe my whatever development as 'unintelligent' to get away from these greedy patent owners.

Re:OOH OOH! (1)

Draconix (653959) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193883)

So it automatically bans people who use netspeak? Sweet! Sign me up!

Re:OOH OOH! (3, Funny)

jZnat (793348) | more than 8 years ago | (#15194053)

An intelligent filter that gets rid of annoying AOLers? Now that's the first legitly patentable idea I've heard for a long time!

Re:OOH OOH! (2, Funny)

deathy_epl+ccs (896747) | more than 8 years ago | (#15194112)

An intelligent filter that gets rid of annoying AOLers? Now that's the first legitly patentable idea I've heard for a long time!

Prior art... Smith & Wesson already has this one covered.

GNAA Announces Cleansing Of The Star Trek Gene Poo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193206)

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Buoys? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193208)

Is that like the company is afloat just because of patent bullying?

Re:Buoys? (2, Funny)

escher (3402) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193300)

It's certianly not the quality of their code.

(The one advantage to having worked there: I got to see why OOP in C++ is a Very Bad Idea.)

Re:Buoys? (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193399)

You think object-oriented programming in C++ is bad? I'm curious now. Please explain.

Re:Buoys? (1)

escher (3402) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193534)

Pure OOP in C++ is one of those things (like operator overloading) that looks great on paper, and even seems to work well for small projects.

When you have to debug a 1.2GB source tree, it gets ugly. Very ugly.

  • Confusing and sometimes ambiguous syntax.
  • Multiple-inheritance nightmares.
  • A language manual that requires many, many pages. (Compare to a full description of Objective-C)
  • Requires years of experience to be truely familiar with the language.


Granted, some of my most harrowing experiences in C++ were a result of the code design at Real. (If anyone ever asks me to work with a custom-built pure-OOP C++ COM system again, I will run screaming in the other direction.)

Professional coding (7-year veteran, various languages) destroyed my ability to write good code. I'm just now staring to recooperate. I've gone back to straight C to get my brain straightened out and it's a breath of fresh air compared to the madness I'd been immersed in for so long.

I hate to say this, but I even prefer C# w/ the .NET API to C++ and the STL.

The best use for C++ I've seen is Pure-C-With-Smart-Structures.

Re:Buoys? (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 8 years ago | (#15194055)

The best use for C++ I've seen is Pure-C-With-Smart-Structures.

Yup; most of the (rather few) good, readable C++ code I've seen is basically written like that. Most of it compiles fine under a plain C compiler; there are just a few structs that have been written as classes to take advantage of some of the OO capabilities in an elegant fashion.

Mostly, though, the best explanation I've seen for the widespread disastrous nature of C++ projects is the comment that C++ is a "write-only language". Usually nobody other than the original coders can ever modify a chunk of code without introducing all sorts of bizarre, unexpected side effects.

And, as is so often the case, this isn't really a property of the language. It's more a result of the programming culture that has developed, which puts a premium on a highly-obfuscated coding style. Why this happened is a bit of a puzzle, because you'd expect that C++ would be an offshoot of C, but the cultures are radically different. If you want to see a C-like programming culture, you should look at perl or python. The C++ culture is more like Cobol or PL/I, bizarre at that may seem when you just look at the languages.

OTOH, I've seen a few very simple and elegant small C++ programs. So go figure.

Yet More Patent Abuse. (2, Insightful)

TooMuchEspressoGuy (763203) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193210)

"The patent, which is described as being for a 'multimedia communications system and method for providing audio on demand to subscribers' (No. 6,985,932), describes the idea of permitting a PC user to play back audio, video and other information on a PC. RealNetworks executives said the technology was distinguished from other similar systems by the fact that it permitted "intelligent" streaming of data in potentially congested networks."

What do you want to bet that RealNetworks is going to use this patent to sue anyone else who develops an "intelligent" method of streaming data?

Re:Yet More Patent Abuse. (1, Insightful)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193264)

They can of course use it against Microsoft windows media division. A division invented NOTHING (yes, everything you see are licensed/acquired) and tried to drive the real inventors like real networks/apple quicktime out of business using Windows monopoly.

These are my words with bad grammar but they are based on facts found by EU court.

I hope the real reason behind this patent is that. Against "windows media 11 with intellisense technology". "The great invention you can download with 1 click in Vista".

Real is perhaps "evil" but they really did some great stuff. Same goes for Quicktime of Apple. Quicktime is the most "evil" division in Apple but they did amazing things and remember what Ballmer said about it.. Knife the baby etc.

Re:Yet More Patent Abuse. (1)

ScottLindner (954299) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193455)

What do you want to bet that RealNetworks is going to use this patent to sue anyone else who develops an "intelligent" method of streaming data?

It won't bother me, because my patent I'm about to file is about a brilliant method of streaming data. :-)

Cheers,
Scott

Re:Yet More Patent Abuse. (2, Funny)

grumpyman (849537) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193512)

No worries, we can just name our method differently like "bonehead data streaming" or "dumbass multimedia packet routing"

More Patent Abuse. Yay!!! (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 8 years ago | (#15194062)

They'll drive more people to podcasting. Yay!

They'll also try to squeeze the telcos who are trying to keep us on their 'sit the fuck down spot on seven and watch what ever crap we can scare up cheap to feed you' schedule.

Podcasting, RSS and podcatching are like TiVO on steroids with some feed back ability to boot.

They say 'screw you' to the telcos who are trying to get everybody to pay extra for what is now 'dark fiber' buried under the ground.

Remember GlobalCrossing?

What happened to all the fibre they laid?

Right...

The telcos bought it all up at the bankruptcy sale and they're going to try to make you pay for it all over again, at a premium price.

But podcasting/podcatching doesn't need synchronous delivery.

Good ol' TCP/IP is plenty good enough.

Screw their special 'guaranteed speed' charges.

Media is dying and their greed is just bleeding it faster.

Re:Yet More Patent Abuse. (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15194242)

we will just have to label all our new stuff dumb streaming.. so that it multi casts the packets to the client and to real's servers

if everyone did this they might stop this crap as it eats their servers to peices

I think (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193223)

I think they patented the "fallback" scheme of streaming server/client.

When your network goes havoc the 128kbit realaudio/video falls down to 96kbit first, than 64kbit etc. The trick is it also somehow "senses" the network lag has been fixed and it goes back to the normal level.

That is half of the reason why on movie trailer sites you see multiple stream rates for windows media and one stream link (unified) for real media. The other reason is the "layered" way of doing things in realmedia. A single file can have multiple bitrates.

These are things they invented or not, I don't really care. I don't also like the "patenting" of such things. There should be a way to make it free for opensource community implementing and not to Microsoft.

Helix open source leg can do it?

As I got my lesson from last time, posting as AC. Sorry :)

Re:I think (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193276)

This is ridiculous. Modems have have had fall back and fall forward for years, by "intelligently" sensing line conditions and adjusting automatically for maximum throughput. This is hardly "novel". Has anyone actually seen a truly novel patent recently? I'd just like to know that people are still filing them.

Re:I think (1)

atari2600 (545988) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193431)

But for modems, once you are connected at 9600bps, you stay connected at 9600bps - the modem doesn't realise that it can reconnect at 28.8K and drop your active connection. THAT would be very very annoying.

Re:I think (1)

Asgard (60200) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193522)

Modems have the capability to retrain [modemhelp.net] , which lets them renegotiate the line speed mid-connection in response to line conditions. It doesn't drop carrier, but it does cause a few second pause in traffic.

Re:I think (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193528)

No, later generation modems have fall-forward, it will bump the speed up if line conditions improve. That's been the case for a long time, actually.

Re:I think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193480)

I take it as a rule of thumb that the only software patents which aren't blindingly obvious are patents on algorithms invented 20-50 years prior by mathematicians. Needless to say, those mathematicians never see a cent.

Re:I think (1)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193675)

Has anyone actually seen a truly novel patent recently? I'd just like to know that people are still filing them.

My patent for cold fusion is novel... but that was before the oil companies paid me to supress it.

Re:I think (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193301)

free for opensource community implementing and not to Microsoft.

GPL v4: Free for Operating Systems that have the source code made publically available to all.

Moglen, Stallman, you listening? I'm available for consulting work. 2000 of your "US dollars" per day. Oh, and a day is 5 of your so-called "Earth hours". And you buy lunch.

Re:I think (1)

servoled (174239) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193364)

These are things they invented or not, I don't really care. I don't also like the "patenting" of such things. There should be a way to make it free for opensource community implementing and not to Microsoft.

Patent it yourself and allow it to the OSS folks but not to Microsoft?
Release it under your own license that says it can only be used for non-commercial activities?

Of course these require you to come up with the idea before someone beats you to it.

Re:I think (2, Interesting)

Alkrun (960306) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193403)

"There should be a way to make it free for opensource community implementing and not to Microsoft."

There is a way. If the patent holder decides to license their technology for free to OSS then there you go. But it sounds like you're saying "I didn't invent this (I think it'll be argued that neither did Real Networks), but I like Open-Source software so there should be some form of exemption for OSS to ignore patents." Replace OSS with "huge corporate monopolies" and you could be a flack for Microsoft. Is that really the kind of life you want to lead?

I think technology patents in this country are pretty far gone right now, but that just means the system needs overhaul, not that we need to cover every piece of evidence that the system is broken with a gigantic band-aid (and a heavily biased one at that), masking the problem.

Ogg Vorbis Bitrate Peeling (4, Informative)

fossa (212602) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193425)

Ogg Vorbis supports bitrate peeling [wikipedia.org] , but it is not currently implemented. Apparently RealNetwork's SureStream encodes a given file at multiple bitrates resulting in a fat file, while bitrate peeling only needs a single encoding. Real's patent appears to be on the streaming logic to actually switch bitrate though, not the storage of bits in a file.

No need to post AC... (0, Flamebait)

tomcres (925786) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193435)

...you were inferring that Real is an evil corporation for patenting something useful, not Apple. Had this been about QuickTime and you said something negative about Apple, your karma would've sunk faster than the Titanic. But according to my reading of the current state of Slashpolitik, Real is a perfectly safe target for criticism. Hammer away! ;)

Re:I think (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193977)

When your network goes havoc the 128kbit realaudio/video falls down to 96kbit first, than 64kbit etc. The trick is it also somehow "senses" the network lag has been fixed and it goes back to the normal level.

Anyone familiar with both TCP and media codecs knows that this is trivial.

bad news for Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193229)


everybody else, party carries on !

Oh, boy. (3, Funny)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193241)

Cue an avalanche of "Buffering..." jokes in 3... 2... 1...

~Philly

Re:Oh, boy. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193295)

I think you meant:

Cue an avalanche of "Buffering..." jokes in 3... 2...Buffering... 1...

Re:Oh, boy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193333)

Already tagged with "Buffering"

Re:Oh, boy. (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193885)

No, he configured his RealPlayer to buffer 100% before playing. He's on dialup (or Rogers "broadband"), you see. . .

Number 1. (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193344)

(Meanwhile, in the USPTO...)

* Click to search for prior art regarding this patent application.
(Click!)

The following prior arts have been found. Listing 1-10 of approx. 236,772

1. -

buffering...

Re:Oh, boy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193448)

1.. 1.. 1.. 2.. 3.. 5.. 8.. 13.. 28..

Re:Oh, boy. (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193601)

Okay, I'll put it here:

"Gee, I didn't know that you could patent 'Buffering.'"

Thank you providing a place for me.

Re:Oh, boy. (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193769)

I couldn't read your comment because of network lag.

Re:Oh, boy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15194417)

> Cue an avalanche of "Buffering..." jokes in 3... 2... 1..

Bah. This is the one time when it would have been okay to say queue instead of cue.

Thank you. Thank you. Be sure to tip your waiter. I'll be here all [buffering...]

Real or Relevant? (4, Interesting)

Eberlin (570874) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193247)

By Intelligent streaming, they mean it'll take over your machine and feed you adware AFTER getting the run-around on how to download the free version and signing away your firstborn, that is.

Am I bitter? Yeah. Real was fairly innovative in the day and though Media Player had its part in shrinking the marketshare, it wasn't like Real didn't get pushy and lamer after a while. How's that OSS deal they had (was it helixcode?) going nowadays anyway?

In other news, I wouldn't be surprised if the patent actually pertains to a streaming download occasionally interrupted by the word "Buffering" followed by 3 ellipses.

Re:Real or Relevant? (1)

thelem (218540) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193381)

Surely you mean one ellipsis.........

Re:Real or Relevant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193393)

Hiyoooo! You are correct, sir! Either that or the guy who applied for the patent had OCD.

Re:Real or Relevant? (1)

atari2600 (545988) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193407)

I think it is time to stop bashing a company for mistakes it has made a while ago. They are trying to correct their mistakes. The free version of their player is easily available from their home page now. If you want more information about Real's Helix efforts, go here [helixcommunity.org]

. The fact that you continue to be bitter about something that no longer possibly is true is sad. You may go ahead and flame me now.

So that means... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193251)

So that means if anyone else makes their streaming media mimic RealMedia they could be sued for copyright inf...BUFFERING...

WTF is streaming exactly? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193259)

There was me thinking TCP/IP already had flow control and packet prioritization. Let's call a spade a spade here, digital media is just data and traffic shaping has been around for years. What do Real think they have a patent on exactly and can I interest them in a bridge?

Re:WTF is streaming exactly? (1)

Jerry Coffin (824726) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193441)

What do Real think they have a patent on exactly [ ... ]

If you really want to know, why don't you read the patent?

If you do so, you'll have the rare privilege of finding that (for example) the claims that this is about fallback and/or buffering, and complete nonsense! The statements about buffering at least have a minimal defense -- as you'd expect in describing a streaming system, the patent claims do mention the client system having buffers -- though even there it's a bit more restrictive than would necessarily be obvious (e.g. it requires separate buffers for the data stream and the metadata).

In fairness, it's a little bit difficult to quickly summarize what is supposed to be novel and non-obvious about what's patented. In many patents, what's supposedly novel, non-obvious, etc. (novel and non-obvious are not considered synonymous) is usually the combination of elements in the patent, rather than one of the elements by itself.

Doing a bit of reading, they talk about doing things like allowing you to recieve the audio data and the metadata from separate servers. They also talk about something that sounds quite a bit like remote DMA. When you send a request for some audio data, you don't just specify a filename -- you specify the memory location on the remote computer where that data is stored.

Disclaimer: I only took a rather quick glance through the patent claims. While I'm reasonably certain that what I've outlined above is discussed in the claims, it wouldn't surprise me at all if there's more to it as well -- the patent has 40 claims altogether, and to really know what it's talking about you should read the disclosure as well as the claims. I'm also not an attorney, so you certainly shouldn't mistake anything I say for legal advice.

[ ... ] and can I interest them in a bridge?

Can I interest you in learning what the patent covers before you blithely assume it's nonsense?

Re:WTF is streaming exactly? (1)

DCstewieG (824956) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193452)

Offer your bridge to the patent office, not Real. They'll buy anything!

They patented static text? (2, Funny)

thallgren (122316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193267)

So basically they patented a GUI with static text saying "Buffering..."? :-)

Re:They patented static text? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193298)

Next thing you know they are gonna allow a patent for single mouse clicks.....oh wait

Re:They patented static text? (3, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193709)

"So basically they patented a GUI with static text saying "Buffering..."? :-)"

That's more of a trademark than a patent.

Oooo! A bribable patent office! Hurray! (0, Troll)

TheNoxx (412624) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193268)

Must be the cheer from all these tech firms. I know I'll get flamed by people working at the patent office, but quite frankly, if anyone works there and is not pissed off over what's going on and/or doesn't have any knowledge about whoever is obviously recieving kickbacks there they obviously qualify as idiots.

Oh well, good thing prior art for this is fucking everywhere.

*Something* is wrong with the Patent Office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193898)

There's a third possibility, though distant. Perhaps there are people who actually *can* see what's going on, and are trying to sabotage it internally. If the NYT can find an earlier patent on what appears to be the same thing, surely the Patent Office can do the same thing, and so can any patent lawyer attempting to invalidate it. If there are enough ridiculous patents that are discarded (RIM and NTP, I'm looking at you), patents given for ridiculous things like variable rate, variable server downloads of data (but it's video data! OMG! That's different!), and generally stupid shit (Real applied for this patent *12* years ago), then a few congresscritters might actually try to reform something.
With any luck, in a few years the patent office will be patenting water or something.

Before you get into prior art... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193293)

Note:

The present invention is a continuation of Ser. No. 08/347,582 U.S. Pat. No. 5,793,980, filed on Nov. 30, 1994.

That is the date you are going to have to beat.

New Patent.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193297)

Slashdot just filed for a patent for a new invention called Dumb Streaming. Quick summary follows:

"The patent, which is described as being for a 'multimedia communications system and method for providing audio on demand to subscribers' (No. 6,985,933), describes the idea of permitting a PC user to play back audio, video and other information on a PC. Slashdot executives --CowboyNeal & CmdrTaco-- said the technology was distinguished from other similar systems by the fact that it permitted Dumb Streaming of data in potentially congested networks."

So, AYBAB2U ;)

Much ado about nothing (1)

nodnarb1978 (725530) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193316)

RealNetworks executives said the technology was distinguished from other similar systems by the fact that it permitted "intelligent" streaming of data in potentially congested networks."

So, the way I read this, and company flacks have made statements that support it, is that as long as you're not using their exact method, which is "intelligent", you're OK.

OSS Coders, Start working on super-ingenious streaming video methods!

Re:Much ado about nothing (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193468)

I shall call it, backwards buffer!

"3... 2... 1... Buffered!"

:-)

Re:Much ado about nothing (1)

monkeyos (957157) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193498)

better make sure its not too ingenous, or it might come up with intelligent solutions that tread on patent toes.

Real Alternative & Media Player Classic (3, Informative)

citking (551907) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193331)

Before I found Real Alternative [free-codecs.com] and its necessary companion Media Player Classic [sourceforge.net] I stayed far, far away from anything that used Real Player. I didn't want messages about Brittney Spears in my system tray, I didn't want to click 4 different links to bypass their premium player, and I certainly shied away from the massive load time.

I found out about it only after Click and Clack [cartalk.com] switched back to Real Player's format [cartalk.com] after having temporarily using Windows Media Player. Their reasoning was similar to mine; many older folks were having trouble locating the free Real Player. Despite the fact that Tom and Rau were able to make nice with Real Networks, I was never able to. But, thanks to my friend Sean, I shall never have to go through 4 different option menus to disable a message center again.

Besides, the Real Alternative codec seems better able to stream than Real's own player software. I assume the codec is just the "guts" of the player with no fluff...perhaps all of the extra system resources are being used by, oh, the message center checking on the latest dirt about TomKat or something.

Re:Real Alternative & Media Player Classic (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193807)

Besides, the Real Alternative codec seems better able to stream than Real's own player software. I assume the codec is just the "guts" of the player with no fluff..

You are getting confused. A CODEC is not a player. Your software is reading the same CODEC. obviously. The application may be better, but how can it change the CODEC used by sites that deploy Real media stuff?

Why are patents so unpopular? (1)

BassKadet (936182) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193416)

Setting aside the legitimacy of RealNetwork's patent, what is it with the popular feeling on this site and Digg that PATENTS = BAD. Sure, open source software is great and all but if somebody comes up with a great idea why CAN'T they get filthy rich from the concept and continue to milk it for years? I'm hardly the champion of capitalism but absurd extremist "everything-needs-to-be-free" views seen here are frankly disgusting. If you are content with people ripping off your ideas and profiting from them, please move to China or some other shithole where creativity is not encouraged.

Re:Why are patents so unpopular? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193729)

Sometimes the problem is when someone else can do the same thing BETTER, except they're not allowed to distribute or market the BETTER implementation because the first company already has a patent. Plus, if you already have a patent on it, why improve it or make it better? You're the only one with control over the idea...no one else can rip you off for another 20 years! Bad for innovation.

Re:Why are patents so unpopular? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193767)

Also, sometimes people get patents and don't actually make a product out of it. When someone else figures out a way to actually make the thing, they can't release it to the public because it's patented.

Re:Why are patents so unpopular? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193824)

Sir,

You are infringing on my patent for methods of mentioning Digg on slashdot. Please cease and desist immediately, or you shall be hearing from my lawyer.

Dammit.... (3, Funny)

shr3k (451065) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193477)

"RealNetworks executives said the technology was distinguished from other similar systems by the fact that it permitted 'intelligent' streaming of data in potentially congested networks."

Dammit! I just got finished patenting all the stupid ways of doing it...

(yawn) snake protocol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193500)

sounds like a snake protocol to me.

Buffering.. (1)

saboola (655522) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193536)

"The patent, which is described as being for a 'multimedia communications Buffering... Buffering... Buffering... system and method for providing audio on demand to subscribers' (No. 6,985,932), describes Buffering... Buffering...

Streaming of patent description closed due to network congestion. Please try to file your patent again later.

Real gets streaming patent, includes with FOSS Lic (3, Informative)

kforeman (596891) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193581)

Great news for Linux and open source developers. Today Real announced it has added a fundamental patent for certain streaming media technology to its portfolio of patented innovations in digital media AND is automatically licensing the patented technology via its OSI-certified open source license for Helix DNA software, as Real has done with its other digital media patents embodied within Helix DNA Software. The recently-issued "Click-to-Stream" patent (U.S. Patent No. 6,985,932) covers the core methods used when a user selects a link to stream audio-visual content. The patent covers Real's groundbreaking technology innovations dating back to November 1994, four months before the introduction of RealAudio, which forever changed the Web by bringing streaming audio to the Internet for the first time. Real is indeed serious about open source software.

Click-to-Stream joins the portfolio of over 35 patents related to digital media, many that are available to Helix DNA Software licensees. As many of you know, over 50 commercial and open source companies, including Nokia, Linspire, Motorola, Novell, Real, Red Hat, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Sun Microsystems, Trolltech and Xandros, have licensed Helix DNA software and its patented technology to build media-enabled products.

So what about the GPL license you ask? Yes, the Helix DNA Client (the FOSS media framework which supports any format and any operating system) is licensed under the GPL license. And what about patents under the GPL? As you may know, the proposed draft 3.0 of GPL contains an express patent license, whereas the current version of GPL being used by Real (version 2.0) does not contain a patent license. There is broad and public discussion about whether and to what extent an implicit patent license is or is not granted under the GPL, and if so, what the scope of such a license would be. Real's concerns regarding the uncertain nature of such an implied license has led Real to expressly disclaim any implied patent license under its GPL license grant, and to encourage Open Source developers who desire an express patent license from Real to take a license from Real under the RealNetworks Public Source License. For those who nevertheless prefer to use the code under the GPL, we assure you that Real has no plans to pursue any abiding GPL licensee of the Helix DNA Client software - We fully encourage open source software innovation and the collaboration among our licensees.

Here is the actual announcement: http://www.realnetworks.com/company/press/releases [realnetworks.com]

Here is the licensing FAQ https://helixcommunity.org/content/faq-licenses [helixcommunity.org]

Kevin Foreman,
GM, Real

Re:Real gets streaming patent, includes with FOSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193818)

why is it that the patent makes no mention of 'video', but purely an 'audio control center' - unless real applied for a continuation-in-part for the re-classification of 'metadata' beyond just a baseball game scores and stats..

this method does not include provisions for multi-stream delivery, which is critical to proper delivery of video.

Re:Real gets streaming patent, includes with FOSS (1)

slashflood (697891) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193827)

Wow! Thanks!

Re:Real gets streaming patent, includes with FOSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193972)

Once again, the only post from somebody who actually knows something instead of the traditional "patents are stupid" rants gets a score of 4. Somebody mod it up please.

Re:Real gets streaming patent, includes with FOSS (5, Informative)

mikiN (75494) | more than 8 years ago | (#15194059)

The patent covers Real's groundbreaking technology innovations dating back to November 1994, four months before the introduction of RealAudio, which forever changed the Web by bringing streaming audio to the Internet for the first time.

Not to be rude, as you may fool some younger Slashdotters, but not me. Fact is, there were streaming audio solutions on the Internet well before 1994. How do I know? Well, I took part in the development of one of them, and helped with the porting effort of several others.

I'll keep the list of examples short and sweet, others may add as they please.

AudioFile [mit.edu]
The Network Audio System (NAS) [radscan.com]

Note: These systems, as were several others, were OSS right from the start.

Re:Real gets streaming patent, includes with FOSS (3, Interesting)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15194135)

Good point. From the NAS Documentation:

In a client/server architecture, network transfer delays can cometimes make the arrival of data less predictable than if it were coming from a physical device. This can result in underruns (data not arriving in time) or overruns (more data arriving than there is room for) if the delays are sufficiently large. If an underrun or overrun occurs, the affected element is "Paused" until more data or space becomes available. To avoid pauses, applications can control the amount of data that is kept for each input and output element and can request notices whenever an input begins to run out of data or an output has to buffer up too much data.

How does that fail to qualify as prior art?

On the other hand ... (1)

Infernal Device (865066) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193604)

This is great and all for them, but it doesn't change the fact that they still suck on quality. Windows Media Player may be produced by the Evil Empire, but it's still head and shoulders above Real.

Re:On the other hand ... (1)

fader (107759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15194114)

Windows Media Player may be produced by the Evil Empire, but it's still head and shoulders above Real.

The fact that you're about the zillionth person I've heard say this makes me finally break down and say "Wuhhh?"

I've never had anything but terrible experiences with WMV. Skipping in a local file entails ~30 seconds of waiting for the video to catch back up while I look at a still frame of pr0n -- it's instant in Real. Skipping streaming video, as far as I can tell, isn't even possible with WMV. The controls are either disabled or just nonfunctional.

Admittedly, I haven't used WMV on Windows. (Ever.) I'd ascribe it to Microsoft's shitty Mac support if it were just OSX that I saw this in, but even in all the flavors of Linux I've ever used, using the codec DLLs from Windows, it's the same story.

While Real used to make it a real bitch to find their free player, once I got it I've never had a bad experience with it. No spyware or popups or any annoyances at all. (Again, I haven't used it on Windows since about 1998, the last time I had a Windows machine for personal use.)

So honestly, not trolling or flamebaiting... does WMV actually work on Windows?

I can patent too. (1)

Alcimedes (398213) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193634)

I need to patent a system whereby I collect money from people intelligently. If they have more money than I do, I'll intellegently collect it from them. They can even stream me money directly to my bank account!

Big bucks here I come!

Re:I can patent too. (1)

CottonEyedJoe (177704) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193791)

Great, now all you need to do is figure out how to convince or compel people with more money than you to give you theirs and you'll have a business, protection racket or government!

Re:I can patent too. (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193881)

What's the difference between the last two?

Re:I can patent too. (1)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | more than 8 years ago | (#15194197)

>"[...]you'll have a business, protection racket or government!"
What's the difference between the last two?

Really, the question is more one of what's the difference between ANY of those three?

And the answer is simply that, in the order they are listed, they go from "least dishonest" to "most dishonest"...

Oh please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193747)

They're just getting desperate. I've been using video codecs since the 90s and back then RealMedia was a good thing, but, since then it has slowly sunk down into being a mediocre codec which forces the users to have to deal with a horribly bloated player which has been known in the past to have spyware.

If they want to save RealNetworks, they need to make the basics, such as the video codecs, actually USEABLE. As it is, they'll have to count on the type of users who use services such as AOL, and I needn't point out that AOL has such a high turnover rate for good reason. (At least AOL tries to improve, albiet in all the wrong ways. RealNetworks does not.)

We should all be so "desperate" as Real Networks (2, Informative)

westlake (615356) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193927)

They're just getting desperate.

Real Networks stock is up 38% since February. Rhapsody's subscription and download service is doing quite well, thank you very much, in a market dominated by iTunes.

Results for the first quarter of 2006 will be released next week, but right now, things are looking pretty damn good for Real.

RealNetworks Benefiting From Video Offerings [forbes.com]

My opinion (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193755)

This patent is a streaming pile of crap.

Um... (2, Funny)

alerante (781942) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193855)

Am I the only one that read "Streaming Patent Buys RealNetworks" and thought, Yeah, I think the patent system needs some serious reform?

Re:Um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15194275)

You are not the only one

In the US RealNetworks buys streaming patent, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193862)

In Soviet Russia, streaming patent buoys RealNetworks!

possible prior art (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15194116)

The vat/vic audio/video conferencing projects at Lawrence Berkeley Nat'l Labs during the 1990s led by Steve McCanne et. al., used adaptive compression schemes for real time conferencing over IP multicast networks (the MBone).

Here's a 1996 paper [ucsd.edu] .
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