Acacia Signs Disney

Gretchen Gallen
BURBANK, Calif. – Acacia Technologies Group snapped out of a period of relative inactivity Thursday with the announcement that it has licensed its DMT technology to Disney Enterprises Inc., a unit of Walt Disney Corp., and its Internet subsidiary, Walt Disney Internet Group, which includes the Disney, ESPN, and ABCNews websites, all of which utilize streaming media technology.

Today's deal marks one of the largest contracts to date for the patent holder and took many industry watchers by surprise after a fairly predictable fourth quarter earnings report on Feb. 19 and a period of a few months in which Acacia seemed more involved in litigating patent infringers than acquiring deals with some of the big players in the Internet industry.

A similarly large licensing deal for Acacia was with General Dynamics Interactive Corp. in December 2003, a company that provides digital video-on-demand and high-speed access to the global lodging industry.

[BANNER1]Acacia has not disclosed the terms of the deal and Robert Berman, executive vice president of business development for Acacia, would not give comment on today's announcement.

However, the Disney agreement brings Acacia's licensing agreements to 116 and is unquestionably a major victory for the patent holder in so far as scoring a deal with one of the most famous media conglomerates in the world.

Acacia shares were at $6.05 Thursday, up from $5.56 the previous day. Shares of Walt Disney Co. were at $26.80, up from $26.30.

Just last week Walt Disney Co was the target of an agressive takeover bid from Comcast, one of the largest cable companies in the world. The offer was turned down by the Disney board of directors, although Comcast is still pursuing the mouseketeer and is reportedly considering raising its $66 million bid.

Comcast is one of the nation's largest cable television distributors of porn movies, adult channels, and pay-per-view programming. According to reports, Comcast earned an estimated $50 million from porn last year alone.

There is also speculation that Comcast is planning to use its merger with Disney as an opportunity to move full force into the video-on-demand space, which the cable operator has so far been unable to conquer because of its failure to rally mainstream networks and media content providers.