Google’s Marratech Software Acquisition and Patent Filings

On Thursday, Google announced that they had acquired Marratech AB’s video conferencing software. The software allows for desktop participation in videoconference meetings wherever there’s an Internet connection.

I took a quick look at some of the patent applications that are assigned to Marratech to see what some of the technical aspects behind the software acquired might be. It’s hard to tell if all of these patent applications are involved in the transaction, or just some of them. Google didn’t buy the company, just its software. (Andy Beal has a nice overview of the software.)

Here’s a little about some of the patent applications that are assigned to Marratech AB:

These two involve distributing media files between client computers and servers while the files go through a firewall.

Apparatus and method for negotiating network parameters
Invented by Peter Parnes, Mikael Persson and Claes Agren
US Patent Application 20060015575
Published January 19, 2006
Filed: November 4, 2003

Method, system and computer program product for transmitting a media stream between client terminals
Invented by Peter Parnes, Mikael Persson and Claes Agren
US Patent Application 20060004906
Published January 5, 2006
Filed: September 3, 2003

This one looks at private messages in video conferences (an IP-multicast group) between some of the members of the conference

Apparatus and method for conveying private information within a group communication system
Invented by Peter Parnes
US Patent Application 20060041745
Published February 23, 2006

This next one covers video conferencing.

Apparatus and method for distribution of streamed real-time information between clients

Invented by Peter Parnes
US Patent Application 20050188011
Published August 25, 2005
Filed: November 8, 2004

Abstract

With an apparatus and method for distribution of streamed signals between a group of different participating users in a computer network, users access client terminals with multiple facilities for accessibility and participation in various media sessions. The apparatus includes image capturing elements capturing and transmitting a streamed signal within at least one established media session and the session defined by the users in a computer network having access to the signal stream. A first facility of the client terminal is associated with the media session and has an established connection with the image capturing elements for receiving the streamed signal sent therefrom. A second facility of the client terminal sends out a request within a common session, instructing the first facility of the client terminal to provide a copy to the second facility of the signal stream transmitted from the image capturing element, allowing access to multiple media sessions simultaneously.

This one focuses upon the use of bandwidth in video conferencing

Apparatus and method for adaptive data transmission
Invented by Peter Parnes
US Patent Application 20060235654
Published October 19, 2006
Filed: March 24, 2003

Abstract

An apparatus and method for adjusting bandwidth utilisation between a group of different participating users accessing client terminals in a common media event in a computer network. The apparatus includes a distributing unit which distributes address information and bandwidth limitation to the users connectable via the computer network to the media event from their respective client terminals. The distributing unit is hosted from a central administration entity and connecting links connect each client terminals of participating users via the Internet or other global interconnecting network to the distributing unit. Measurement elements are provided in association with the client terminals to measure incoming data streams from other users. The distributed bandwidth limitation is provided to the client terminals to allow them to compare incoming data streams, in response to which the terminals autonomously adjust their amount of transmission to a level that allows for optimal utilisation of available resources during transmission.

I don’t know if Google will make this software freely available for their users, but if they do, I can see some potential here to transform the way people hold meetings.

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