Akamai wins patent dispute with Limelight

Jury awards CDN provider $45.5 million in damages

Limelight Networks suffered a major blow on Saturday, as a jury in the Massachusetts US District Court found that the company had infringed upon a key content delivery patent held by rival content delivery network provider Akamai.

The jury's verdict, which came less than three weeks after the patent trial began, awarded Akamai US$45.5 million in damages.

The patent in the dispute, number 6,108,703, deals with a global hosting system that "allows a content provider to replicate and serve its most popular content at an unlimited number of points throughout the world" and was originally awarded to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000.

Melanie Haratunian, senior vice president and general counsel of Akamai, praises the jury's verdict and says that it "recognizes the strength of Akamai's patent portfolio and is a tangible reflection of our resolve to vigorously defend the company's intellectual property." Akamai says it plans to pursue and injunction against Limelight to prevent any further violations of the patent.

Limelight spokesman Paul Alfieri says that many of Limelight's core services would continue to operate even if Akamai were to win an injunction against the company.

"The patent in question deals with very specific pieces of our business," he says. "There are many pieces of our business that have nothing to do with that patent and that we could continue to operate."

Alfieri also says that Limelight's legal department is weighing its options, and that it hasn't ruled out the possibility of an appeal. But before that can happen, he says that the US District Court has to rule on what parts of the suit, if any, that Limelight will be able to appeal, and will also have to define what portions of Limelight's network are infringing upon Akamai's patent. He also says that Limelight still has "other motions left on the table," but declined to go into further details because the company "doesn't want to tip its hand."

Akamai first filed its suit against Limelight in July 2006, and initially said that Limelight was also violating US Patent 6,553,413, which describes a CDN that employs edge-of-network servers to provide content delivery to a set of participating content providers. The US District Court ruled last month, however, that Limelight did not infringe upon Akamai's CDN patent, thus leaving the global hosting system patent as the only one left in dispute.

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