Acacia Bags the Bunny

Gretchen Gallen
NEWPORT Beach, Calif. – Acacia Technologies Group started off the week with a major adult entertainment player under its wing. The patent holder announced Monday that it had licensed its streaming media technology to Playboy Enterprises Inc. and its online property Playboy.com.

Today's deal marks 118 licensing agreements Acacia has secured for its DMT technology.

Reaction to Acacia's most recent big-name licensee, after signing the Walt Disney Co. and its Walt Disney Internet Group in February, came as little surprise to those who have been watching Acacia closely over the past year and a half.

Playboy has reportedly been in talks with Acacia for some time and only until now has it decided to license with the patent holder rather than hold out and see if the defense group that is currently in counter litigation with Acacia proves successful.

"It was never a question they [Playboy] were to settle, if was just a matter of how much they were going to pay," said Spike Goldberg, president of Homegrown Video and one of the members of the defense group. "Acacia will try to make it sound like this should be the straw that breaks all of our backs and just because Playboy settled we all should. Every company has to make a decision for themselves and Playboy made a decision that was best for them. I have no doubt that they got the best possible deal a company could get."

Acacia's deal with Playboy has raised questions over the connection between Acacia and Lensman's company ICS, Inc, which owns Adult.com, GFY, and has a marketing relationship with Playboy Cash. Adult.com was reportedly approached by Acacia in December of 2003 and has not yet responded.

According to a post by Lensman, the Playboy deal with Acacia will also cover Playboy Cash affiliates.

"Adult.com has not settled with Acacia, and has filed a countersuit against the company," Lensman said in a statement. "When Acacia agrees to drop their lawsuit, Adult.com will make sure its webmasters are covered as well."

"Playboy is another example of a company with plenty of resources and access to top patent lawyers that chose to license our DMT patents," Robert Berman, executive vice president of business development for Acacia, told XBiz. "Many large companies both in and out of the adult industry have now licensed our patents."

Berman continued by saying: "A final resolution to the ongoing litigation against the adult companies is many months, if not years away. Companies that wait for a final outcome will face court imposed damages that they may not be able to afford. At that point, we will have no flexibility. It would not be fair to our existing licensees, and we will not make exceptions. We will seek damages going back 6 years, and those companies that can't afford to pay will have nobody to blame but themselves."

The defense group that is currently in court with Acacia represents more than 20 companies, with 12 active litigants in the group.

According to Goldberg, the defense group was recently joined by Cybernet Ventures, owner of Adult Check, Club Jenna, National A-1, Cyber Trend, owner of Silvercash, and ProAdult.

"I would be concerned as a business owner in the streaming business when it comes to signing a license that defines what streaming media is according to Acacia, when there are multiple companies out there trying to enforce similar types of patents using the same terminology," Greg Clayman, president of Video Secrets, told XBiz, referring to SightSound and USA Video, which are currently enforcing patents that pertain to video and audio downloads from the Internet.

"Playboy should have a greater concern now for being a bigger target than they were previously," Clayman continued. "Today's case isn't going to change the facts of our case against Acacia, that's for sure."

A Playboy spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny any dealings with Acacia at the time of this posting.