The rights of U.S. schools and colleges to use a powerful new tool for enhanced communication and instruction are at risk, because a little-known California company claims it owns the patent on what enables streaming video. The company has already sent demands for royalty payments to several U.S. universities.

Newport Beach-based Acacia Research Corp. seems to have a message for schools: Either stop the transmissions now, or prepare to pay the company as much as 2 percent of the revenue generated from courses that employ such technology.

The threat became

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