Acacia Media Technologies have asserted ownership of a number of patents which govern the process of transmitting compressed audio or video online, one of the most basic multimedia technologies on the Net. Acacia have just signed up its latest licensee, Mexican satellite telecommunication company Grupo Pegaso. Radio Free Virgin, the online music division of Richard Branson’s Virgin Corporation, said it agreed to license the technology late last year after a careful legal review.
A number of basic Web technologies and practices have been subject to patent claims over the past year. Telecommunications giant SBC Communications is claiming rights to Web site “frames” and another company says it has rights to the e-commerce site staple known as the shopping cart. Acacia Media Technologies is part of a larger corporation called Acacia Research which holds intellectual property in several areas. One of its subsidiaries owns technology used in the television content-blocking V-Chip and last year alone earned close to $25 million in royalties from that side of the business. According to the Company, their patents could affect virtually anyone involved in the business of providing on-demand digital audio or video, from software companies to network service providers to the actual content companies.