Digital Island Files Complaint Against Akamai

In response to a patent infringement suit filed by Akamai Technologies Inc., Digital Island Inc. said Monday that it would lodge its own complaint with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office asserting that its content distribution process predates patents held by Akamai and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Digital Island claims in its interference action against Akamai and MIT that it has patent-pending claims for the same inventions claimed by MIT, said Alan Bernheimer, a Digital Island spokesman. Bernheimer wouldn't specify what is in dispute beyond technologies each company uses to deliver content over the Internet.

"We refer to patent-pending claims on technology that predate MIT claims," he said of the matter.

Digital Island and Akamai Technologies are industry heavyweights in content distribution and constantly fight for dominance in the growing market for streaming Internet video and audio. Akamai claims to have largely won those battles with its FreeFlow distribution service, based on a MIT patent for a "global hosting system," said Jeff Young, public relations director for Akamai. MIT received the patent on Aug. 22.

"Akamai has a patent issued to MIT in the names of Tom Leighton, Akamai's chief scientist, and Danny Lewin, Akamai's chief technology officer," he said. "FreeFlow is one of our core services. We believe our patent is substantial, and we believe that Digital Island is infringing on it."

Akamai and MIT filed a patent infringement suit against Digital Island Wednesday of last week in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

MIT's patent, US6108703, is for "a network architecture or framework that supports hosting and content distribution on a truly global scale. The inventive framework allows a content provider to replicate and serve its most popular content at an unlimited number of points throughout the world. The inventive framework comprises a set of servers operating in a distributed manner," reads the text of the patent, available through a patent-listing service.

In a separate legal matter, Digital Island said that it would file a lawsuit Monday against Akamai in a California federal court over a different patent issued to Digital Island on Nov. 2, 1999. Dave Farber, Digital Island's chief systems strategist, filed for a patent in 1995 for "fingerprinting" content to track data, Bernheimer said. The technology can be applied to detect unauthorized tampering of data, prevent the use of outdated or stale content and to enable networks to optimize content delivery and storage.

Digital Island, based in San Francisco, can be contacted at +1-415-738-4100 or at Akamai Technologies, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, can be reached at +1-617-250-3000 or on the Web at

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