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RealTime IT News

Jury Clears RealNetworks of Infringement

RealNetworks continued its strong April run Friday by prevailing in a patent lawsuit brought by Ethos Technology.

A Massachusetts jury unanimously ruled that the Seattle-based RealNetworks did not infringe on any of Ethos's 10 claims.

Ethos contended that two RealNetworks downloading products -- RealDownload Express and RealDownload -- were based on Ethos technology. Ethos was seeking $200 million in damages.

"Since the legal dispute between the parties commenced over five years ago, Real has vigorously denied Ethos's patent claims and defended our position that we do not infringe the patents," Robert Kimball, senior vice president and general counsel for RealNetworks, said in a statement.

The verdict improved RealNetworks's stock price, which has gained 20 percent in April and hit 52-week highs on several days last week.

Ethos first brought legal action against RealNetworks in 2000. RealNetworks said the first patent infringement suit brought by Ethos was dismissed. After Ethos went out of business in 2001, another infringement suit was brought.

"While we respect intellectual property rights and the rights of inventors to protect their innovations, we have also made it clear that we would not be pressured into taking a license for technology we did not use and patents that we did not infringe," Kimball said.

According to Kimball, RealNetworks has not distributed RealDownload in several years and RealDownload Express was a "minor" product.

Last year, RealNetworks ended a long-running legal dispute with Microsoft when the two companies announced a $761 million settlement of RealNetworks's antitrust claims against Microsoft.

RealNetworks accused Microsoft of abusing its monopoly to limit choices in digital media players, hurting distribution of RealPlayer.