MONKEYmedia Says it Holds Patents Covering Telescoping, Various Other Interactive Technologies

--Has Set Up a "SeamlessTV Partner Program" for Licensing its Portfolio
--Signed Patent-Licensing Agreement with Microsoft back in 2006

MONKEYmedia, an Austin-based company that describes itself as "a privately held user interface design studio turned intellectual property licensing boutique," announced Monday the launch of its "SeamlessTV Partner Program" for the licensing of its portfolio of "Seamless Expansion" and "Seamless Contraction" patents. The company says that the patents include "claims directed towards telescopic video-on-demand (VOD) and other enhanced viewing experiences, and are essential to the practice of various industry-governed standards such as DVD-Video, Blu-ray and tru2way (e.g. Enhanced TV & SCTE-130)."

According to the company, the SeamlessTV Partner Program is "now open to all parties interested in practicing MONKEYmedia's patented technology and methods in connection with DVD players, Blu-ray players, set-top boxes, DVR's, smart TV's, PC video players, mobile devices, discs implementing telescopic video features, and telescopic advertising." It adds that the program "offers an efficient and inexpensive way for companies to alleviate any concerns about past infringement of MONKEYmedia's patents by themselves or their customers and to obtain the licenses necessary to continue providing enhanced value to those customers."

At least one major company in the interactive TV/video space seems to have been convinced by MONKEYmedia's claims: according to a February, 2006 press release issued by MONKEYmedia, it succeeded in persuading none other than Microsoft to enter into a patent-licensing agreement with it. The release includes the following quote from Microsoft's managing director and head of IP acquisitions and investments, Ken Lustig: "Licensing technology is an essential part of maintaining a healthy cycle of innovation in the IT industry, and is a practice employed by most all high tech companies. Microsoft respects intellectual property rights, and by so doing, is able to stand behind its products and customers. IP licensing is an essential part of maintaining and growing a healthy strong software ecosystem."

In its press release announcing its new patent-licensing program, MONKEYmedia goes on to provide more detail on what it means by "Seamless Expansion," which it defines as "a form of interactive media in which a link from a video enables playback of optional content, such as another video, pictures, text or interactive media. When the viewer is done watching the expansion content, the main video resumes where it left off," the company continues. "MONKEYmedia invented the technique and reduced it to practice in the early 90's while experimenting with concepts for then-future video distribution formats such as DVD and interactive TV. On DVD and Blu-ray today, the technique is often used for behind-the-scenes footage, and is commonly referred to as seamless branching. The broadcast TV industry refers to it as long-form VOD or telescopic advertising. And the Internet video advertising community uses the terms in-video ads and contextual video overlay ads." (Note: the company defines "Seamless Contraction," meanwhile, as the "inverse of Seamless Expansion, enabling long videos to be shortened by skipping over undesired or non-salient segments based on user preference.")

MONKEYmedia was co-founded in 1994 by Eric Gould Bear, who the company says "has been a leading force in the design of award-winning human-computer interfaces since 1984, has published numerous articles on the subject, and is first-named inventor on over eighty software and hardware interaction patents and patent applications." The company has set up a Web site for its SeamlessTV Partner Program at http://seamless.tv. A list of the patents that the company is seeking to license through the program is available at: http://seamless.tv/patents/index.html. (Note: [itvt] came across MONKEYmedia's announcement of its new patent-licensing program shortly before we were scheduled to go to press; we plan to report on this story in more detail in the near future.)

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