Acacia Extends Olive Branch to E-Learning Institutions

Gretchen Gallen
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Acacia Technologies Group changed its tune this week toward colleges and universities that offer e-learning services, which Acacia claims have been infringing on its Digital Media Transmission patents.

XBiz has learned that Newport Beach, Calif.-based Acacia has given a royalty reprieve to nonprofit educational organizations that do not have at least 500 distance learning enrollments per academic year or provide at least 14,000 total streams or downloads of content per academic year.

Additionally, Acacia is offering other nonprofits the choice of an alternate royalty pay structure based on the number of enrollments in the school's distance learning program or on a per stream/download basis with $1,000 in yearly minimum royalties.

All other academic institutions that offer online services featuring the use of streaming technology must pay licensing fees, the patent holder stated.

Acacia went after the e-learning industry in August of 2003 in a similar way it approached the online adult industry for infringing on its claimed ownership of all streaming audio and video over the Internet.

Acacia has not yet released the number of colleges and universities that have signed licensing agreements and no patent infringement lawsuits against educational institutions have yet been filed, according to Robert Berman, executive vice president and general counsel for Acacia.

The colleges and universities approached by Acacia had an overall similar response to the patent holder's demands against the online adult industry, many of whom felt that Acacia was trying to reap financial gains from e-learning courses that produced limited revenue to begin with. Some academic representatives have even called Acacia's licensing pursuits a form of extortion.

Earlier this week, Acacia expanded its patent licensing and engineering teams to include two new recruits, Jeffrey Schoenwald and Julia Feldman, who was hired as director of licensing.