Two of the patents issued deal with commonly-used techniques that are utilized with regard to Blu-rays and DVDs to give a viewer a variety of versions of the same film all on the same disc. More specifically, long videos can be abbreviated by viewers who have the ability to choose to pass by any sequence or scene that they want.
Another one of the recently issued patents deals with techniques regarding the auto-summarization of documents that are used in online research tools and various word processor applications. In particular, a user’s search results and/or long documents are shortened by showing only the important portions of content sought by a user based on his or her preferences, and contracting the non-important content.
The last patent, which issued on March 5, 2013, concerns the auto-summarization of the calendar function that is utilized by users of mobile devices such as iPhone and others. The techniques of this patent allow users to be able to go between a day view and a list view with ease.
“Relativity Controller” has been the subject of MONKEYmedia’s ongoing patent infringement litigation with Apple and Buena Vista Home Entertainment, doing business as Disney, Fox, Paramount, Lionsgate, Sony, Warner, Universal Studios (collectively referred to as the “Studio Defendants”).
MONKEYmedia, Inc v. Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc., et al.
In 2011, MONKEYmedia filed a complaint against the Studio Defendants claiming patent infringement with respect to four particular patents, all of which are part of MONKEYmedia’s “Seamless Contraction” and “Seamless Expansion” patent families. The inventions made under the “Seamless Contraction” patent family “concern the summarization and/or variable display of text and audio-visual content, based on the saliency of the content.” The inventions made under the “Seamless Expansion” patent family “concern the display of optional content in the context of audio-visual content streams.”
With regard to seamless expansion, MONKEYmedia claims that the Studio Defendants utilized certain special features on their Blu-ray and DVD discs that let viewers take a look at the bonus content that is often included on movie discs, and then return to the movie after the bonus information has been viewed. Specifically, a person watching a DVD or Blu-ray will typically be alerted (by a cue display) to the fact that there is bonus content available to be viewed in relation to particular movie scenes. If the viewer chooses to watch the content, the movie will be paused and the content will be shown; if the viewer chooses not to watch, the cue will disappear after a few seconds. MONKEYmedia refers to that type of seamless expansion as “scripted seamless expansion.”
Additionally, on Blu-ray discs that have seamless expansion, viewers might be given the opportunity to view the bonus content as noted above and/or they might be able to use the Blu-ray player to gain access to additional content at any time during the movie–a function that MONKEYmedia refers to as “impromptu seamless expansion.”
With respect to seamless contraction, MONKEYmedia claims that the Studio Defendants, in their creation of DVDs and Blu-ray discs that contain more than one version of a film, encode all the scenes that are in the long version of the film and contain directions on the disc that allows the disc player to show all the scenes if a viewer elects to watch the longer director’s version. If the viewer decides to watch the shorter theatrical version, the disc player will shrink the movie by not showing the scenes that didn’t appear in the theater version, which is referred to as “seamless contraction.”
MONKEYmedia notes in the complaint that it repeatedly provided the Studio Defendants with information about its patents and their infringement of those patents prior to filing the lawsuit. Nonetheless, the Studio Defendants continued to create and distribute (and still continue to create and distribute) millions of infringing discs.
MONKEYmedia v. Apple, Inc.
In 2010, MONKEYmedia filed a similar complaint against Apple, Inc., claiming that the designer and manufacturer of computer technologies infringed upon a number of patents regarding the use of seamless expansion and contraction techniques in several of its computer products, operating systems, and popular web browser.
MONKEYmedia again claims that Apple was well aware of their infringement activities long before the lawsuit was filed. Information was repeatedly provided to Apple regarding the patents at issue, and despite having been provided this information, Apple continued to (and still continues) to make, sell or distribute infringing products. As a matter of fact, Apple proceeded to introduce its iAd platform in conjunction with Apple devices to deploy iAds that, in essence, gives others the opportunity to utilize seamless expansion in an illegal manner.
Eric Gould Bear came up with the techniques that Apple and the Studio Defendants are now utilizing without permission in their products over 20 years ago, and he has made it clear that he does not intend to simply sit back and watch while others continue to use his patented inventions without paying for their use. So here’s a question for the Studio Defendants and Apple–why not just pay Bear and use the interfaces legally?
EDITORIAL NOTE: Eric Gould Bear is an advertiser on IPWatchdog.com. This article was written by Adrienne Kendrick, a freelance journalist. She was not instructed or encouraged to write from any particular point of view or to reach any particular conclusions.