Burst Gains Ground for its Patent Validity in Court Battle with Apple
All that being said, at the crux of the whole request by Apple to invalidate Burst’s four patents is the difference in the way that Apple and Burst perceive time and data compression.
The published ruling goes to great lengths to point out the understanding of the court regarding the difference between time compression multiplexing (TCM includes time domain multiplexing) and data compression, as well as Burst’s assertion that its technology provides an additional layer on top of both of these types of compressions. For instance, in one passage, the ruling clarifies the areas that are not in dispute:
Understanding the parties’ dispute requires a brief exploration of the two types of compression as the technologies existed in 1988. The parties presented extensive briefing on the technologies involved in data compression and TCM, and the following background facts are not in dispute.
• Data compression is the process of reducing the number of bits required to represent audio and/or video information.
• Data compression accomplishes this reduction on digital information in certain ways such as encoding patterns and redundancies in fewer bits.
• For audio information, data compression results from reducing the number of bits used to represent each sample and by coding the differences between samples rather than the entirety of each sample.
• Video information can be compressed in similar ways.
• Intraframe compression compresses each frame of a video independently and discards indiscernible information, such as the number of colors.
• Interframe compression results from coding only the differences between frames.
• The resulting compressed information requires less memory for storage and can be transmitted in less time than the uncompressed representation by virtue of its smaller size.
• The transmission time for any particular data compressed information depends on the size of the compressed information and the bandwidth, or transmission speed, of the communications channel.
• The bandwidth of any particular channel is necessarily approximate, and, therefore, the transmission time of compressed data is also approximate.
This last point—approximating the time of transmission—is also key to Apple’s dispute, as Apple disputes that Burst’s phase "time compressed representation" is the same at TCM or TDM. On this point the judge rules in Apple’s favor, with the ruling noting that "Burst’s expert concedes that, at the time the patents were filed, there were several meanings of the phrase ‘time compression’; none of which would include datacompression." The rule also notes that the term "burst" was unknown in the field of data compression at the time the first patent was filed in 1988.
Several reports have noted similarities to the this weekend’s MRT "cease and desist" letters that it issued to Microsoft, Apple, and others in an intriguing publicity bid, as well as the similarities to Acacia’s patent litigations. But the biggest difference between Burst and Acacia is that the latter is buying up patents to pursue via litigation while the former—with a CEO who is also the patent holder—is attempting to protect its patents as its business grows.