Learn From Lisa Blog

Adobe (finally?) sues Wowza for patent infringement

Wowza Media Server has been a thorn in Adobe’s side for quite some time now, directly competing with Flash Media Server, undercutting them in price, continually staying one step ahead in customer service and specialized features.

It seems Adobe’s legal department has decided enough is enough.

Wowza Media Systems released a statement today that brought to light a lawsuit filed last week against them by Adobe Systems. From Wowza’s official press release:

The Adobe lawsuit alleges certain patent infringement and unfair competition complaints regarding Wowza’s business practices.

“Adobe’s lawsuit against our company is completely without merit, and we look forward to resolving this matter in court,” said David Stubenvoll, CEO and co-founder, Wowza Media Systems. “Wowza’s position is that it does not infringe on Adobe patents and that we have engaged only in skillful and fair competition with Adobe. For the implementation in question, we disclosed our activities to Adobe more than five years ago and continued to be open and up front with Adobe regarding our activities. It is only after five years of Wowza growth, independent technology innovation, and market leadership that Adobe unexpectedly filed this unfounded and spurious lawsuit.”

Stubenvoll continued, “Wowza has always had a policy of timely, accurate communications with all current and prospective licensees, and so we have made the decision to communicate this matter swiftly. This action is not anticipated to interrupt our current product offering or future product plans. We will continue to innovate and provide the market with the best technology at reasonable prices while we respond in court to these unfounded allegations. We remain confident in our intellectual property position and welcome the opportunity to settle this matter definitively.”

I have always thought that Adobe needed to address the “Wowza Problem” in some way, by either suing them or acquiring them. After so many years of quietly ignoring them I thought they may be leaning toward the latter. Apparently that’s not going to happen. Why Adobe decided to file now isn’t clear. Of course I’ll be following this issue very closely, along with most Wowza Media clients.

UPDATE: Stefan of Flashcomguru.com shares my surprise (and dismay) at this development. Hopefully we can get a look at the complaint and see what may have prompted it.

Posted in: Announcements, Flash Media Server, Web Video News

Leave a Comment (12) ↓

11 Comments

  1. Jake May 10, 2011

    I for one am glad that Adobe didn’t choose to acquire Wowza. I think the Wowza guys do a fantastic job and provide very healthy competition. What I find to be somewhat humorous is the statement: “unfair competition complaints”. Just because Wowza is killing them on price doesn’t give them the right to complain about unfair competition. Adobe just needs to pull back the price of FMIS and let the real competition begin with server to server comparisons and not just price. Dare I say Wowza still has the upper hand in this right now as well.

    reply
    • Lisa May 10, 2011

      I agree, Wowza has always had super-human customer service and innovation; unencumbered by the big corporate machinery. This is a sad day, not just for Wowza and their customers, but for the Flash Media team as well. This isn’t going to help them innovate, isn’t going to give them more $$ to put into development, isn’t going to create any goodwill in the long run.

      reply
  2. John Grden May 10, 2011

    I remember talking to one of the 2 founders of wowza at a conference about 5yrs ago. He had told me that they went right into Adobe and had given them a letter or intent about what Wowza was going to do.

    I’ll be very interested in *what* Adobe thinks Wowza infringed upon.

    Hope all is well Lisa, miss seeing everyone at the conferences ;(

    reply
    • Lisa May 10, 2011

      Hi John! Great to hear from you, hope all is well. Missed seeing you at FITC, had an extra scotch for ya. 🙂 Hope to see you again sometime soon…

      Yes, I had a similar conversation with David. I think they have gone far beyond that original conversation with Adobe. Their relentless addition of new features and their aggressive pricing may have pushed Adobe too far. We’ll have to see what the complaint says as I’m sure neither side will be saying much more while litigation is going on.

      reply
  3. Ben Fhala/Everything Flash May 10, 2011

    i don’t think this is great PR for adobe but maybe money is more impotent 😉 – such as patenting new things instead of fighting the stuff that are out there unless there is a real case… only time will tell

    reply
  4. micha May 11, 2011

    Its nice to see the statements here. Its understandable that the wowza users dont want that wowza will die. On the other side wowza is more like an plagiarism from technologies that wowza dont developed by them self. Its not hard to sell a product at a lower price when you dont have spent millions of dollar for the development for creating such of protocols like RTMP or RTMP(e) or silverlight smooth-streaming, Apple HTTP, etc.. Its something like to buy an mercedes and write honda on it and sell it for the half money 🙂

    Please see it from the adobe who had not only spent money on the FMS Server or protocols, they also have spent millions of dollors for the flashplayer development. And for the flashplayer, its a free piece of software for any kind of screen where adobe dont earn money.

    Iam working in europe for a big telco company as an protocol engineer and i can say that without reenginner the rtmp(e) protocol in FMS it´s impossible to understand how the communication between the flashplayer a server is working.

    Rtmp(e) has fixed keys in flashplayer and flash-media-server and iam sure adobe has saved all wowza releases where they will find exactly the same static keys that are required for the RTMP(E) handshake and encryption. I think it will be very hard for wowza to explain on court how they got the information for rtmp(e) calculations. Adobe changes in the last 12 month the rtmp(e) specification several-times with very little changes in the calculation of the diff-hellman scheme and one week later wowza has done the same in their server 🙂 Maybe an adobe insider gave them the infos, but i dont now this of course.

    I think microsoft is also watching wowza for their implementing of silverlight protocol, that they dont have licensed yet.

    I think its very risky for a enterprise service like a server-hoster to use a server that is a clone from the original manufacture of the streaming- technology. At the end when a software is illegal you have to pay a lot of more money instead you had paid when you use original tools and software. I think that is the reason why level(3) and akamai dont uses wowza media servers.

    Many users ask why adobe dont acquire wowza? The answer is simple: Adobe dont buy something that they already have…Cause to support silverlight? hehe..i dont think that Adobe wants to support a another client technology then flash. Another reason is to support Apple iPhone? Well, Apple HTTP specs are opened for everything and the next FMS will already handle this.

    So, as you can see wowza has nothing that adobe needs.

    I fully can understand Adobe and i also understand customers who wants the cheapest solutions for video-streaming. Personaly iam more on the adobe side, cause wowza do not spent 1 cent to the community with new innovations like adobe, apple or microsoft is doing with their tools and ideas.

    Lets see how the story will end.

    tom

    reply
    • john doe May 22, 2011

      Hi all,
      I think the guilt is hard to assign to one party or another. However…..

      The way I see it (after reading the RTMP license) everybody is granted the right to sell implementations of RTMP as long as they comply with the specification itself. Which is completely useless if you want to implement a server because you will NOT be able to stream h264 content.

      What Adobe done instead, is to remove ***critical*** information about the handshake in the hope nobody will crack it. Let’s face it guys: security through obscurity is not nice, especially when Adobe is bragging about it as being very secure. IMHO, wowza should sue them back after buying one FMS instance and demonstrate that they have HUGE moral damages after a personal porn-like little movie was copied all over internet while streamed through their “secure” servers. Another thing, I (and probably other guys) cracked RTMFP. Although, cracking is a little bit too big word for saying I just looked into the binary and discovered the constant AES keys. (which are something like “Adobe Systems 002”, I don’t remember exactly). Yes, I did that, because is my right to know everything about my computer(s) and any software program(s) running on them (I am allowed to read my disk content, right?). Besides, if Adobe thinks you can bully people into silence just because they found out how the shit hits the fan, that’s not nice at all! Is like telling someone “Ride this car but if you get in a car accident and you suffer, you are not allowed to tell anyone how we, providers of the car, didn’t installed the breaks properly. You MUST shut up otherwise we will sue your ass because we are big, have more money than you, and we don’t give a f**k about your life. Just about your money! Buy from us you b***h”

      About wowza…
      Point 27 from suing document:
      “Wowza has also mislead customers into believing that its unauthorized version of RTMPe provides security comparable or equivalent to the security provided by Adobe’s RTMP”

      If that statement holds water, and indeed wowza did that, than, wowza, you deserve your faith! Really, you deserve that!

      Other than that, wowza should not be treated like that. It is creating fair and healthy competition for the highly priced Adobe products.

      One more thing… Who the f**k invented patents in the first place!? I want to patent hot water, round wheel, and … oh yeah, the process of patenting. Yes, patent the patents!

      reply
    • Lisa May 27, 2011

      Thanks for the update, Eric.

      reply
  5. WowzaFan August 20, 2014

    So anyone know the outcome? Been more than three years now. Out of court settlement??? 😉

    reply
    • Lisa Larson-Kelley August 21, 2014

      I’m not a lawyer, but it looks like they did reach a confidential settlement.

      And here is a blow-by-blow of the litigation and the recent settlement of the suit (it seems?) for some light bedtime reading 😉

      reply

Leave a Comment