Real Granted Streaming Media Patent

RealNetworks said Monday that it had been awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office surrounding its media technology. The patent covers methods used when consumers click on links to stream content from Web browsers and media players, the company said.

Called "click-to-stream," the technology patented covers how streaming media is allowed to play before the entire file is downloaded to the computer. The patent specifically references media that is initiated from a Web browser, multimedia advertising, and network-enabled software media players.

The patent is backdated to November 1994, four months before the first version of RealAudio was released. RealNetworks will add the patent to its Helix Community program, an offering by the company that licenses out key Real technologies.

Currently, Real holds over 35 patents relating to multimedia streaming, with applications for about 100 more. The Helix program currently counts some 50 companies as licensees, including phone manufacturers Nokia, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, as well as Novell, Red Hat, and Sun.

"This fundamental new patent recognizes our breakthrough innovation, and provides Real with an exciting opportunity to expand the Helix Community's role as the centerpiece of the digital media marketplace," RealNetworks chairman and CEO Rob Glaser said.

Real will offer both commercial and open source licenses of the technology, the company said. It also said that consumers, Internet portals, broadband, mobile service providers, and corporate enterprises are automatically licensed to use these technologies if they run or promote Real software.

Real did not say whether it would pursue royalties from other streaming media software companies such as Apple and Microsoft.

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