Brightcove announced Monday that it has been granted its first U.S. patent, covering the publishing and distribution of digital media online. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded U.S. Patent Number 7,925,973 to Brightcove, giving some backing to the online video distribution firm’s intellectual property.
The patent application was originally filed way back in August 2005, around the same time that Brightcove was born. Founder and CEO Jeremy Allaire, as well as founder and CTO Bob Mason, are both named as inventors of the patent in question. It claims ownership over intellectual property related to digital media distribution, including styleable player experiences, rights management, affiliate syndication, advertising policies and analytics, according to Brightcove.
There are three primary claims that the patent covers: The first is for a method of defining a style through which digital content can be delivered, like for example a video player. This ensures that the presentation method is stored on a server and separates the presentation of a piece of digital media from the media itself. The second claim revolves around digital rights to view a certain piece of content and ensuring that a user has the rights to do so on any number of different devices. The system does this by contacting the server to verify rights qualifications. And the final claim revolves around the style and presentation of channels through which users view the content, and the context through which the style is retrieved once a user has initiated the presentation of the digital content item.
Interestingly enough, none of these claims are related to online video in particular, but to digital media and content in general. That’s because in 2005, it wasn’t clear that Brightcove’s distribution business would be just about video, VP of marketing Jeff Whatcott told us in a phone interview. According to Whatcott, when Allaire and Mason were applying for the patent, they envisioned building a platform for delivering content online through a SaaS-based business model, but documented those ideas in a broad fashion.
The patent award comes as Brightcove is expected to soon seek an IPO. The video distribution platform has raised about $100 million since being founded, including a $12 million funding round about a year ago. The company hired a new CFO last fall, and was expected to go public as early as the first half of 2011. That timing seems unlikely now, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Brightcove sought an IPO by the end of the year.