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Acacia Lays the 'Smackdown' on the WWE

Acacia Lays the 'Smackdown' on the WWE
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Sep 21, 2004 10:37 AM PDT    Text size: 
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Acacia Technologies Group took a swing at World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. this week and landed another Digital Media Transmission licensing deal that will cover the WWE's more than 200 websites, Acacia announced Tuesday.

The deal with the Stamford, Connecticut-based media and entertainment company covers all non-live streaming downloads of audio and video from WWE.com. The deal also extends to the company's other websites, including Webcast On-Demand, the WWE Video Library, Match Jukebox, and nearly 200 more sites.

Formally known as the World Wrestling Federation, the WWE is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "WWE." The company reported net income of $24.4 million in January of this year.

The WWE deal marks the 26th licensing agreement Acacia has secured since the Markman ruling on July 12 in which Judge James Ware questioned the validity of certain claims pertaining to two of Acacia's five U.S. patents.

Ware's ruling sent Acacia stock plunging from $6.25 to $3.81 and prompted immediate damage control from Acacia executives. By August, Acacia stock hit a low of $2.84. However, as of this report, Acacia stock has rebounded by 52 percent and closed Monday night at $4.23.

"We recognize that any license that we enter into will be scrunitized by the Courts for the purpose of determining damages in our litigations," Robert Berman, executive vice president and legal counsel for Acacia, told XBiz. "For this reason there are no special deals and our royalty rates will continue to increase over time. With 26 agreements in a little over two months, our licensing program is alive and well."

Spike Goldberg, president of Homegrown Video and a member of the Joint Defense Group, a group of more than a dozen adult entertainment company currently countersuing Acacia over patent infringement claims, felt differently upon hearing Acacia's latest news.

"Acacia lost most of its claims in the Markman hearing, effectively making it a hands-down defeat," Goldberg told XBiz. "What they are doing now is giving anyone they can the best possible deal to make it look like everything is fine. But if you tell someone that their license is a dollar, of course they're going to license."

Earlier this week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington D.C. arguing that "ambiguous" patent claims should be invalidated.

The EFF filing also states that patent claim terms should be interpreted as narrowly as possible by the courts to protect the public.

EFF is asking the court to rein in these claims by limiting their scope to only those things clearly laid out in the patent claims themselves.

The filing comes shortly after the EFF launched a Patent Busting Project that named a dozen patents the EFF felt should be reexamined by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, among them Acacia's DMT patents.

"At this point, anyone who is licensing with Acacia is being presumptuous because Acacia is really on the ropes," said Greg Clayman, president of VS Media and also a member of the Joint Defense Group. "Berman is still using the same tactics he used when he came after the adult industry and it didn't work then. Perhaps he can throw in a free blender with every licensing agreement."

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