Patent Violation Lawsuit Against BitTorrent / uTorrent Dropped

Millions of BitTorrent users can breathe a sigh of relief today. The patent lawsuit against BitTorrent Inc., the makers of uTorrent and the BitTorrent Mainline client, has been dropped. Tranz-Send Broadcasting Network voluntarily dismissed the case against BitTorrent Inc., which it orginally accused of violating a file-sharing related patent.

utorrentIn June, Tranz-Send Broadcasting Network filed a complaint where it alleged that BitTorrent Inc. was infringing on a patent originally filed in April 1999.

The San Francisco based company claimed to have suffered significant losses and demanded compensation for the ongoing patent infringement.

The original patent at the center of the lawsuit is titled “Media file distribution with adaptive transmission protocols.” It describes a file-sharing system consisting of a file database, a transfer client and a distribution server.

“By making, operating, using and/or selling [uTorrent and BitTorrent Mainline] and or other software, BitTorrent has infringed and continues to infringe, contribute to the infringement, or induce the infringement of at least claim 1 of the ’944 patent,” the complaint read.

Judged by a layman’s eye the patent did not appear to apply to BitTorrent, but depending on the judge’s decision the case could have a disastrous impact on the BitTorrent community. More than 100 million people use uTorrent every month, half of all active BitTorrent users in the U.S. and Europe.

Luckily for them, it didn’t go that far.

Last week District Court Judge William Alsup signed a joint motion to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning the case is closed and can’t be refiled in the future. Each party further agreed to bear its own attorney fees and other costs. Additional details on the motivations behind the dismissal were not provided.

BitTorrent Inc. is happy with the outcome but didn’t wish to comment any further on the case.

“We were very pleased that the plaintiff dismissed its case with prejudice,” was all the company’s spokesperson told TorrentFreak.

Tranz-Send Broadcasting Network have also dismissed the case against Kontiki Inc., who it accused of a similar patent violation.

Kontiki offers a media content delivery technology that is hybrid of central servers and P2P transfers. Unlike BitTorrent Inc, Kontiki’s user base mostly consists of businesses who can use the software to stream and distribute video. According to the complaint, this software also infringes on the aforementioned patent.

The dismissal comes as a surprise. Court documents filed two weeks ago show that Tranz-Send anticipated that the case would be heard by a jury during a full trial. BitTorrent and Kontiki on the other hand preferred an early summary judgment and requested compensation for the costs they incurred during the process.

Despite the above and for reasons unknown, all parties eventually decided that dismissing the case was the best option.

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