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Intel Paying $120M For RealNetworks Patents, Video Codecs

By - Source: RealNetworks | B 21 comments

Intel has purchased from RealNetworks approximately 190 patents, 170 patent applications and next generation video codec software.

On Thursday RealNetworks Inc., the company responsible for the long-standing RealAudio, RealPlayer and GameHouse platforms, said it signed an agreement to sell "a significant number" of its patents and its next generation video codec software to Intel for a purchase price of $120 million USD. The agreement grants RealNetworks certain rights to continue to use the patents in current and future products while pocketing the money.

In the early days when the Internet was creeping into consumer homes, RealNetworks was quite popular, known for streaming audio and video to desktops. As of 2000, more than 85-percent of streaming content on the Internet was in Real format. However the company, which depended on selling streaming media server software, saw Microsoft and Apple cannibalize its revenue, as both rivals offered similar solutions absolutely free.

Unable to compete, RealNetworks changed gears and purchased Rhapsody from Listen.com in 2003 which was eventually spun off as the current separate entity on April 6, 2010. In 2004, the company launched a music store which featured its own Helix DRM scheme, but was limited to just a few supporting devices. To get around this, RealNetworks then developed a "wrapper" which would essentially allow the Helix DRM to work on iPods and WMA-compatible devices. However as of September 11, 2011, all music purchased before July 2008 would no longer have renewed DRM, rendering the files unusable.

The company also released RealDVD for backing up movies from purchases DVDs, but was quickly barred from distributing the software by a court injunction because it also backed up DVDs consumers didn't legally own.

But now Intel owns approximately 190 RealNetwork patents, 170 patent applications and next generation video codec software. It will be interesting to see what the chip manufacturer will do -- embed some of this technology into its CPUs, GPUs and mobile SoCs, no less.

"As the technology industry evolves towards an experience-centric model, users are demanding more media and graphics capabilities in their computing devices.  The acquisition of these foundational media patents, additional patents and video codec software expands Intel's diverse and extensive portfolio of intellectual property," said Renée James, Intel senior vice president and general manager of the Software and Services Group. "We believe this agreement enhances our ability to continue to offer richer experiences and innovative solutions to end users across a wide spectrum of devices, including through Ultrabook devices, smartphones and digital media."

RealNetworks said it also signed a memorandum of understanding with Intel to collaborate on future support and development of the next-generation video codec software and related products. The company also doesn’t believe the sale will have any material impact on its businesses.

"Selling these patents to Intel unlocks some of the substantial and unrealized value of RealNetworks assets," said Thomas Nielsen, RealNetworks President and CEO. "It represents an extraordinary opportunity for us to generate additional capital to boost investments in new businesses and markets while still protecting our existing business."

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Top Comments
  • 15 Hide
    captaincharisma , January 26, 2012 6:56 PM
    ok intel keep the codecs but please put realplayer out of its misery
  • 14 Hide
    __-_-_-__ , January 26, 2012 6:29 PM
    realnetworks is real crap.
  • 10 Hide
    gm0n3y , January 26, 2012 7:19 PM
    KelvintyI hate and still hate realplayer, why? Freaking ads alllllll day-long, even some real media format like *.rm and *.rmvb can have built-in popping...Switching player to basically anything else is superior to it...

    Real Player was one of the most aggravating pieces of software I've ever used. It was more like a virus than a useful program. It would steal file associations without asking, refuse to be deleted, spam you with advertisements, etc. Good riddance.
Other Comments
  • -8 Hide
    warezme , January 26, 2012 5:07 PM
    Does Real have a codec that can play BD's? That is the only feature that would be of any interest to the public for Windows 7 with a patch and Windows8 native support for playback of BD's with Windows Media or Media Center.
  • 5 Hide
    SpadeM , January 26, 2012 5:18 PM
    warezmeDoes Real have a codec that can play BD's? That is the only feature that would be of any interest to the public for Windows 7 with a patch and Windows8 native support for playback of BD's with Windows Media or Media Center.


    We're talking about Intel not Microsoft ... it'd be more interesting to pursue this on the Quicksync path.
  • 1 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , January 26, 2012 5:50 PM
    I wonder if purchasing the patents was less expensive than licensing fees.
  • 4 Hide
    mrmaia , January 26, 2012 6:24 PM
    JohnnyLuckyI wonder if purchasing the patents was less expensive than licensing fees.


    Buying the patent can allow for later trolling... which in time will pay the patent off.
  • 14 Hide
    __-_-_-__ , January 26, 2012 6:29 PM
    realnetworks is real crap.
  • 2 Hide
    JamesSneed , January 26, 2012 6:55 PM
    I wonder if Intel plans to put something in silicone for say Blu-Ray and then gives the codec to Microsoft. That would be an interesting way to one up competition on the hardware side.
  • 15 Hide
    captaincharisma , January 26, 2012 6:56 PM
    ok intel keep the codecs but please put realplayer out of its misery
  • 5 Hide
    notsleep , January 26, 2012 7:10 PM
    good god...realplayer still around? that thing is so obsolete! :o 
  • 7 Hide
    KelvinTy , January 26, 2012 7:16 PM
    I hate and still hate realplayer, why? Freaking ads alllllll day-long, even some real media format like *.rm and *.rmvb can have built-in popping...
    Switching player to basically anything else is superior to it...
  • 10 Hide
    gm0n3y , January 26, 2012 7:19 PM
    KelvintyI hate and still hate realplayer, why? Freaking ads alllllll day-long, even some real media format like *.rm and *.rmvb can have built-in popping...Switching player to basically anything else is superior to it...

    Real Player was one of the most aggravating pieces of software I've ever used. It was more like a virus than a useful program. It would steal file associations without asking, refuse to be deleted, spam you with advertisements, etc. Good riddance.
  • 5 Hide
    lp231 , January 26, 2012 7:22 PM
    They still exist?!
    Last time I used that piece of junk was 10+ years ago. Now it's VLC or MPC and I tend to
    avoid all Real formats like the plaque.
  • 6 Hide
    captaincharisma , January 26, 2012 8:26 PM
    Quote:
    Yeah, but some porn comes in .RM format only.


    wow you must go to the shadiest of the shady porn sites then. i hope you have a good AV program installed
  • 1 Hide
    BWMerlin , January 26, 2012 9:21 PM
    Like others I am surprised when ever I hear realnetworks named mentioned assuming/hoping that they had gone out of business. I wonder how much more it would of cost Intel to buy the whole company patents and all and put them and the rest of the Internet out of our collective misery that is their continued existence?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 26, 2012 9:22 PM
    suport for .rm and not .webm ?? what they thinking?????
  • 5 Hide
    siuol11 , January 27, 2012 2:34 AM
    "next generation codec"? "popular"? Did the author ever have the unfortunate misfortune of being forced to use Realplayer? It was pure junk. The internet celebrated the day it died.
  • 1 Hide
    alidan , January 27, 2012 4:43 AM
    JohnnyLuckyI wonder if purchasing the patents was less expensive than licensing fees.


    its better to purchase than license, because if the tech takes off and they know they have gold, they can up the cost in the long term to be more then the 120 mill you pay upfront.

    __-_-_-__realnetworks is real crap.


    their program and the way the company went, yea, the core itself... there is a reason my most people used real back in the day... even a few years ago, i downloaded a... well... porn that was real encoded, it annoyed me, but it was i believe 150mb, i got it working, and holy crap... the quality in the video itself was something i would expect from a 500mb size file. the thing was immaculate, even by todays standards it was REALLY REALLY GOOD, to the point that if it was an open standard, that is what would be used on anything dvd or less, i don't know how it holds up in hd.

    captaincharismaok intel keep the codecs but please put realplayer out of its misery


    no matter how good the codecs are, realplayers is tainted to the point of no return.

    notsleepgood god...realplayer still around? that thing is so obsolete!


    you would think that, but its not... it is the best non hd codec i ever seen in the space it took up. the codec was immaculate, but people never took advantage of it when it was popular because we had crap internet at the time, what would have the point been.

    captaincharismawow you must go to the shadiest of the shady porn sites then. i hope you have a good AV program installed


    wasn't even shady, though i cant describe what it was because this is a family friendly site. real, correct me if im wrong, was one of the first with a drm built in wasnt it? and it was a really popular format before the program became adware. porn are early adopters of anything, and the codec is awesome, so some stuck with the codec alone and dumped the real players. granded i know nothing about pay sites, just the free previews

    siuol11"next generation codec"? "popular"? Did the author ever have the unfortunate misfortune of being forced to use Realplayer? It was pure junk. The internet celebrated the day it died.


    the codecs are perfect like i said before, the software on the other hand...
  • 4 Hide
    Thunderfox , January 27, 2012 5:03 AM
    So does this mean that if you have an Intel processor, your computer will randomly stop and say BUFFERING for several minutes at a time?
  • 0 Hide
    jos_031 , January 27, 2012 7:08 AM
    I think the deal may contain patents that relate to open source mp4 and other codecs. They may produce an injunction to devices that natively support these codecs. They may also provide permission to use these codecs on their platform, marking an increased sail in their devices
  • 2 Hide
    blackened144 , January 27, 2012 11:45 AM
    I dont think Ive ever seen "RealPlayer" and "next generation video codec" in the same sentence before.. I feel like forking the sign of the evil eye, spitting on the ground, and spinning around three times..
  • 2 Hide
    dickcheney , January 27, 2012 12:01 PM
    I hope to never see a damned .rm file ever again. Please Intel, loot the company and kill it with fire when you are done.

    RealPlayer, next to iTunes/Quicktime is one of the most loathed piece of ''software'' ever created IMO.
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