Wowza Fires Back at Adobe in Flash Patent Suit

Wowza Media last week responded to a lawsuit filed by Adobe, (s ADBE) which claims that Wowza’s media server infringes on patents related to its Flash Media Server. The legal response questions claims of infringement and proposes its own Wowza Media Server (WMS) is superior to Adobe products.
Adobe took Wowza to court over U.S. Patent Number 7,272,658, which was issued in September 2007; and U.S. Patent Number 7,587,509, which was issued in September 2009. According to Adobe, those patents cover technology used in Flash’s Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) and its encrypted RTMP protocol, RTMPe. Wowza had internally developed its own version of both protocols, which it made part of its Wowza Media Server.
The big debate in the patent infringement suit seems to be over Wowza’s version of RTMPe, which both parties agree is different from Adobe’s official version. But to what extent Wowza’s RTMPe implementation is covered under the patents in question, and whether its development nullifies an open license of Adobe’s RTMP specification, is up for debate. In its complaint, Adobe said that Wowza’s development of an alternative version of its RTMPe encrypted streaming protocol “circumvents” its technology. As such, Adobe says Wowza’s implementation doesn’t comply with its open license and thus infringes on its patents.
But Wowza refutes that, arguing that while it has developed a separate version of RTMPe, its version does not infringe on the patents in question. “The WMS versions of RTMP and RTMPe were developed independently of Adobe’s RTMP and RTMPe specification and the WMS versions do not include features required by the Patents-in-Suit,” the response states. Further, it argues that the patents in question don’t apply to RTMPe at all.
As to whether its development of an alternative RTMPe version nullifies the open license of the RTMP Specification license, Wowza responds: “No language in the RTMP Specification License, which is appended by Adobe to Adobe’s complaint, requires ‘full’ compliance with the RTMP Specification or prohibits development outside of the RTMP Specification.”
The Wowza response also seeks to clear up some confusion over when and how founders Dave Stubenvoll and Charlie Good developed the technology. Prior to founding Wowza, the two had been employed by Adobe. But Wowza’s response clarifies that both left the company before its acquisition of Macromedia, which then owned the technology behind Flash. As a result, the filing claims they had no access to the Flash Media Server technology before independently developing their own media server.
Wowza also suggested that it has produced a superior product. While Adobe claims that Wowza is illegally using its technology, Wowza says that its streaming server “now outcompetes FMS on features, customer service and price.” That’s because Wowza makes a multi-platform product that delivers Flash streams, as well as Apple’s (s aapl) HLS Streaming, Microsoft Silverlight (s msft), Quicktime and IPTV streams. The streaming server software also supports unlimited CPU cores and more operating systems than Adobe’s streaming server, including Mac OSX, Linux, Solaris (s orcl) and Unix.
Picture courtesy of Flickr user rafaelmarquez.