Brightcove has been awarded a very broad patent for online video features. Features which are universally used by other sites and platforms. This is either pointless or dangerous, depending on how you choose to look at it.
Brightcove is a company which offers an online video platform for publishing and distributing content on the Web. It was founded in 2004 and has since built am enviable customer base of high-profiles businesses. The company now streams 700 million videos every month, up from 400 million a month this time last year.
In 2005 Brightcove applied for a patent covering some very broad brush strokes concerning the online distribution of content, including video. Unbelievably, almost six years later and the patent has been awarded. Making it the latest in a long line of inconceivable patents being granted.
Online Video Patent
This patent (no. 7,925,973) being awarded would only make sense if Brightcove had been the first company to be involved with creating and distributing online video, and if there were no other companies actively involved in the business now. Neither of which applies, although Brightcove has been an important player from the beginning.
There is something terribly amiss at the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office), because some of the applications that have been and are being awarded these days are absolutely ludicrous. Just recently Apple has claimed ownership of the term ‘App Store’, Facebook ownership of the word ‘Book’ when used as a website, and Google a patent covering how a company logo can be modified.
This patent is so broad that it doesn’t even only refer to video, but the “distribution of content.” And the key points of the patent are features used by all online video players and platforms. How it was granted is something I’m either too stupid or naive to understand.
Regardless of my (lack of) understanding of this patent, the USPTO has seen fit to award it, and that is that. What this means for all those other companies, YouTube included, which use the same techniques, is not yet clear, but Brightcove could conceivably play dirty.
The company has raised around $100 million since being founded, and is expected to seek an IPO before 2011 draws to a close.
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