Acacia Adds Hustler, Vivid & Wicked

Gretchen Gallen
NEWPORT BEACH -- Acacia Research Corp. entered into licensing agreements today with Larry Flynt's Hustler websites, Vivid Entertainment, and SBO Pictures, also known as Wicked Pictures, bringing the tally of DMT licensing agreements to 47, the company announced.

Acacia's Senior Vice President of Business Development Robert Berman told XBiz that the addition of the three top porn companies is strong indication that its patent claims are legitimate, which until now has been the subject of debate among adult companies rebuffing the patent holder's claims.

According to Berman, Hustler, Wicked, and Vivid had all hired a counsel of patent lawyers to study the terms of Acacia's technology patents as due diligence during pending litigation over patent infringement.

"They have the money to stay in litigation with us for a very long time, but instead they chose to go ahead and license with us," Berman told XBiz. "This should show the rest of the industry that our patents are strong and for those companies that don't have the money, they should take notice of what these wealthier companies have done."

As the Nov. 30 deadline draws near for the termination of more affordable deals for porn companies, the patent holder has been trying to wrangle as many porn sites as possible into signing up for its introductory rate for the technology that enables the transmission and receipt of digital audio and video content over the Internet.

According to Berman, Acacia has been feeling generous up until now by waiving royalties that they would otherwise be entitled to. But by November, Acacia intends to step-up its pursuit of patent infringers, raise its royalty rates, and no longer extend waivers of past infringement.

In a broadening of its pursuit of DMT patent infringers, Acacia recently launched a flurry of letters to colleges and universities across the country that feature e-learning options for students. In its letter, Acacia offered to overlook past infringement if colleges and universities sign up for a special royalty rate of two percent of the gross revenue from each online course that transmits digital audio and video content as part its online curriculum.

"If you continue using our patented technology, but choose not to obtain a license from Acacia, we reserve the right to seek the maximum amount of damages allowable by law and an injunction prohibiting you from continued use of our patented technology without a license," Acacia's letter stated.

According to Berman the letters went to an estimated 100 colleges across the country, among them DeVry University, Capella University, John Wood Community College, Eastern Michigan University, and Seton Hall University

Administrators at some of the colleges contacted via letter said they are studying Acacia's demands, but none have so far agreed to licensing deals.

"They're definitely after us," Stephen Landry, chief information officer for Seton Hall told the Chronicle of Higher Education. "We get $100 million in revenue from our courses, any of which can use digital media on the website, downloadable images, video, sound. In fact, we have had a project to encourage faculty to record their lectures and put them on a server."

Seton Hall already licenses its streaming programs through companies like RealNetworks, Landry said. "I don't think that the university is going to be inclined to sign over $2 million a year to Acacia for this license agreement."

"It's a complete fallacy that we are just picking on the adult entertainment industry," Berman told XBiz," adding that his company has been pursuing companies in the music, film, and cable industries for months now. "We're about licensing our technology to whomever is using it."

Berman added that for companies out there that still have not stepped forward into dealings with Acacia, that they will soon post a "Frequently Asked Questions" feature on the Acacia Research website.

"Many of the leading companies in the adult industry have signed license agreements with Acacia," Berman said. "These actions speak louder then the words of a few small companies posted on chat boards. We hope that the rest of the industry signs License Agreements before Nov. 30 so that they don't get left behind."