The UpStream

Owner of OpenTV Issues Lawsuit to Netflix Over Patent Infringments

posted Friday Dec 21, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Owner of OpenTV Issues Lawsuit to Netflix Over Patent Infringments

While Netflix may be having continuing success through the years, competition and problems still plague the company. This time it's over patent infringement, something we're getting used to hearing a lot about lately. Interactive TV solutions provider, OpenTV, has hit Netflix with a big lawsuit over seven patents that involve over-the-top TV technology. This directly affects Netflix and its digital rights and data management, as the parents in question regard things like video playback and how the company makes title recommendations to its users.

Kudelski SA, which is OpenTV's parent company based out of Switzerland, issues the lawsuit on Wednesday with the US District Court for Delaware but we've yet to see a copy hit the net. Kudelski deals primarily in technologies that relate to digital media platforms and distribution, and the company's reps said in the complaint that Netflix has used Kudelski's patented works to boost their growth. They've also said that Netflix has refused to pay for licenses on these infringements.

Companies like Netflix have, in essence, stood on the shoulders of giants, largely focusing their R&D efforts on aggregating these previously patented technologies and using them to provide a rich customer experience.

Considering that Netflix has been in a couple of legal battles before, this one is quite note-worthy, because if Kudelski were to win, it's possible Netflix will have to shut some of its services down completely (very unlikely), redesign its interface and selection algorithms (also unlikely) or pay Kudelski a licensing fee to use the technologies in question (most likely). As expected, we're going to see more and more lawsuits like this as the digital video space expands and grows, leaving just one or two companies standing when the dust settles. I just hope that these lawsuits don't end up taking down the big companies simply because they'd be too stubborn to pay some fees. Netflix has yet to comment on the matter but they will have to issue a response to the suit soon, before the hearing. We'll let you know what route they decide to take and if they will simply settle out of court.

Day of Online Shooter Backfire

posted Friday Dec 21, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Day of Online Shooter Backfire

Earlier this week I was invited by a fellow journalist to participate in the "Day Of Cease Fire For Online Shooters" event on Facebook. The event is described,

NOTE -WE ARE NOT BLAMING VIDEO GAMES!

GamerFitNation Inc's CEO Antwand Pearman is calling for a "DAY OF CEASE FIRE" on all online shooters on Friday, December 21st, 2012. We ask for Gamers to show their support for the families of those who lost their lives in the tragedy that took place in a Connecticut's Sandy Hook elementary school Friday, December 14, 2012.

Post on this Event Page that you will "Cease Fire" For the day. 26 people were shot dead, 20 of them were young children. We are not asking for money, but if you feel the need to donate I'm sure there are places that will be made available for you.

We are simply making a statement that we as Gamers are not going to sit back and ignore the lives that were lost. Instead we will embace the families with our love and support. So if you are an owner of a website I ask that you post to your readers that you will join us in our "DAY OF CEASE FIRE FOR ONLINE SHOOTERS" I ask you all to please share and I thank you for reading. This starts Thursday night, Friday morning at 12am and will in Friday night, Saturday morning at 12am.

Spelling mistakes aside, it is clear that Antwand Pearman, CEO of GamerFitNation, has very noble intentions. Of course, we are all saddened by what happened in Connecticut with the innocent children and school officials, and the natural reaction is to want to do something to show your support and respect. Immediately I was both surprised and concerned at the potential outcome of this event, however.

We have talked several times about the intersection between videogames and the law. Most famously is the California case and subsequent Supreme Court loss that cost the state $1.8 million. More recently was the federal bill to label all non-Early Childhood games, including Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster, as violent.

Clearly, the government is trying to get involved in gaming regulation. Even with the disclaimer, this event still screams blame. Apparently, my fears were correct, as the National Rifle Association (NRA) big boss openly blamed videogames for what happened. Now, armed with endorsements from the NRA and gamers themselves, or so the reports will read, the government will have all it needs to mount a campaign against videogames.

Now, of course, I understand the noble and respectful place this event comes from, and I suspect anyone who has read this far will, as well. That, however, will not prevent the inevitable spin that we, as gamers, recognize that playing videogames causes violence in real life. If videogames truly influenced real life behavior on that level, I would have a SERIOUS mushroom problem today.

Clearwire Saga Ends: Sprint Purchases Company

posted Friday Dec 21, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Clearwire Saga Ends: Sprint Purchases Company

Thank goodness, the Clearwire saga has completed. My prediction when Sprint was purchased was correct and Sprint used their new found cash pile to purchase 100% stake in Clearwire. After massive financial problems { 1 } { 2 } { 3 } { 4 }, an owner backing out, and several cash injections from owner Sprint, their fate has finally been sealed.

I suppose Sprint decided after all the money they have dumped into Clearwire, it was time they got something out of it. The something they will be getting in this deal is Clearwire's 2.5GHz spectrum, which will greatly help Sprint in deploying its LTE network transition. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said,

Today's transaction marks yet another significant step in Sprint's improved competitive position and ability to offer customers better products, more choices and better services. Sprint is uniquely positioned to maximize the value of Clearwire's spectrum and efficiently deploy it to increase Sprint's network capacity. We believe this transaction, particularly when leveraged with our SoftBank relationship, is further validation of our strategy and allows Sprint to control its network destiny.

It is nice to hear them talking about controlling their network destiny, because with Clearwire powering their initial WiMax launch, they let the control get out of their hands, mostly. Clearwire CEO Erik Prusch said about the transition,

Our board of directors has been reviewing available strategic alternatives over the course of the last two years. In evaluating available alternatives, a special committee conducted a careful and rigorous process, and based on the committee's recommendation, our board unanimously determined that this transaction, which delivers certain and attractive value for our shareholders, is the best path forward.

Obviously Clearwire isn't quite as excited about the sale, but it was the only option to keep the lights on. While it might be hard to watch your work leave your hands, it is even harder to see it go up in smoke.

Apple Terminates Kickstarter Project With Licensing

posted Friday Dec 21, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Apple Terminates Kickstarter Project With Licensing

Apple is such a caring company. They love their customers and their product ecosystem so much that they feel they need to protect their ecosystem FROM their customers. I think it is a lot like loving two dogs but knowing you need to keep them apart so they don't eat each other's food. With that mentality in mind, Apple has ensured around $140,000 was given to a group of people to protect them from Apple's products.

POP Station, which is a portable power station with 26,000 mAH worth of charging power, was a Kickstarter project pitched by Junior Edison, the manufacturer. The charger has 4 retractable cables, each with the capability to charge either micro-USB or Apple's Lightning charger. Obviously this is a very sought-after product, with 1,000 backers willing to pay to back the project.

Unfortunately, Junior Edison never checked the licensing agreement with Apple for use of the Lightning connector. According to CEO Jamie Siminoff,

After applying to Apple (which is now required for Lightning), we learned that they are no longer willing to approve a product that uses the Lightning charger alongside any other charger (including their own 30-pin - seriously). Just like that, POP could no longer fulfill its true promise.

Because of that, this little product was destroyed before it ever got off the ground. At least some people got their money back, right? Thanks, Apple!

Check out their launch video after the break.

Valve Goes Into the New Year with Big News on Three Fronts

posted Thursday Dec 20, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Valve Goes Into the New Year with Big News on Three Fronts

While Gabe Newell, Valve's co-founder and managing director, may be a bit extremely crazy at times, there's no doubt that the company's distribution and game platform, Steam, has been wildly successful. From innovative decision-making to exclusive and massively popular game franchises, Steam has been the service to model after, as we see with services like EA's Origin, among others. On top of that, Valve has also managed to come up with new and interesting ways to market their products and brands to amass an almost cult-like following behind them. This week, Valve was in the news a lot, with their highly-anticipated Steam Holiday Sale starting, introducing new DLC for Team Fortress 2, licensing branding rights to tech companies.

Steam's annual Holiday Sale

Starting December 20th and running through January 5th, new deals each day show up on the Steam-powered store, with some games discounted as much as 75 percent. Valve is also bundling some publisher packs together, where you can get the entire Valve collection for only $49.99, for instance. The best part is that the community can also join in on voting which titles they'd like to see on sale next. Plus, if you don't see the game you want, you can sign up for a wishlist notification, in which Valve will email you or notify you via its mobile app if the game shows up on the deals list. Right now, the app is only available via Android. The big name deals expire as new ones show up so check early and often to grab the best games on the cheap.

Adult Swim and Team Fortress

The subtitle should be enough to tell you that this is just an awesome duo that we should see more of. Adult Swim has partnered up again with TF2 to bring even more humor to the game in the form of DLC.

Adult Swim and Team Fortress are combining again to bring you even more amazing virtual gear. Brush back Brock's flowing mane, before you shoot your friend in the face. Get ready to put Carl's flip flops up that annoying guy's ass. Or become the Minion you've always wanted to be. The Adult Swim store is coming soon to Steam with a boatload of new Adult Swim DLC to buy.

Of course, you have to head into the game to pick these skins and add-ons up, but there are 360-degree previews available on Adult Swim's website right now. The Heavy, Soldier, Scout and Pyro are currently the only classes that have Adult Swim antics added to them, with more to come later.

Valve gives Plantronics license to use game logos

Plantronics has been making a slow comeback in gaming headsets and communications headsets in general. To further progress their reaffirmation into the space, and to appeal to hardcore gamers, Plantronics has acquired the rights to release four Valve-official branded gaming headsets. Dota 2, Counter-Strike, Mann Co. from Team Fortress 2 and the beloved Aperture Laboratories logo will be displayed across the headband of the Plantronics Commander and 780 series of gaming headsets. The 780 set will run you $80, while the Commander line costs $300, and even though they won't make it in time for Christmas if you order one now, I'm sure they'll be completely accepted as a belated present.

So, are you excited about any of this news? It sure beats having to explain why PCs in the living room won't work. Let me know what games you'll be picking up from the Steam sale in the comments below.

Dell Giving Up on Android After Failed Streak Tablet Series

posted Sunday Dec 16, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Dell Giving Up on Android After Failed Streak Tablet Series

Dell seems to have recognized the disaster that was their Streak line of tablets. Even though the five-inch model was a perfect introduction to a phone-tablet hybrid, having outdated Android software - let alone Android as a whole - left the devices fighting to gain market share from launch. Newer operating systems were available on older, less expensive devices, and it seems that Dell didn't seem to mind lagging behind. At least, until this week. After discontinuing the Streak tablets during holiday season last year, Dell's vice chairman, Jeff Clarke, made an announcement we've been expecting to hear for a while. Clarke officially went on record at Dell's World Conference in Austin to say that the company is parting ways with Android completely on its phones and tablets.

He went on to say that,

It's a content play with Android... Amazon is selling books and Google is making it up with search. So far we couldn't find a way to build a business on Android... It (Android) needs a lot of investments to really be successful.

So, Dell is completely unhappy with its performance on the Android platform. Granted, half of the fault lies on their own devices and inability to keep up with the times while still managing to set a trend, but the company is deciding to blame Android, which I suppose is fine in my book. Now Dell is shifting its focus strictly to Windows 8 devices, which we've already seen in the Inspiron 10 and their all-in-one touchscreen PCs. However, we've heard them say before that they were done with Windows, so it's only a matter of time until Dell's self-proven method of constantly changing their business model has them coming up with a new decision in another twelve months. For now, though, you can enjoy all of the Windows 8 devices they put out, as they will be supported no matter if Dell chooses to only build Chromebooks next year. But if that happens, you can be sure the company won't be around much longer.

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