Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
55,465
17,806


In September, reports emerged that Apple and Contois Music Technology reached a settlement over an iTunes interface lawsuit based on this patent filed in 1996.

The company sought damages and an injunction against Apple for the infringement of the existing patent. The last word of the suit came in September, when after a 15-hour negotiating session, a settlement was reached but remained confidential:

"We're glad to get back to teaching music and selling musical instruments," said Dan Contois, a brother of David Contois, who works in the 35-year-old family-owned business. "The terms are confidential. We can't discuss them."

Interestingly, the lawyer involved in the case issued a press release today commenting about the implications of this patent and suggests that Apple has control of it.

The patent covers the system and methods for allowing users download media from a remote database and playing on a a local device -- essentially the methods for purchasing songs online. According to Starkweather:

"I believe that, with this patent in hand, Apple will eventually be after every phone company, film maker, computer maker and video producer to pay royalties on every download of not just music but also movies and videos.

digg this
 

arn

macrumors god
Staff member
Apr 9, 2001
16,286
5,537
I find the press release a bit odd...

details still arn't clear. I would assume based on the settlement, Apple would have full rights to use it... but I'd be surprised if they signed over the patent to Apple which is what this quote essentially suggests.

What's the incentive for that?

arn
 

Digitalclips

macrumors 65816
Mar 16, 2006
1,468
32
Sarasota, Florida
I find the press release a bit odd...

details still arn't clear. I would assume based on the settlement, Apple would have full rights to use it... but I'd be surprised if they signed over the patent to Apple which is what this quote essentially suggests.

What's the incentive for that?

arn

Maybe a lot of $ and I wonder if the patent lawyer got some of the $ too since it seems it was his brains that put this all together in the first place rather than the actual invention.
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/061130/lath054.html?.v=80
 

zeppiecr

macrumors regular
Mar 18, 2005
105
0
Just came across bloomberg that apple applies for patent on a cellphone ipod combination...it was just made public today
 

killmoms

macrumors 68040
Jun 23, 2003
3,729
19
Durham, NC
No one should have control of a patent like this. Generic, unused software patents like this should be destroyed. If someone else like Creative or Microsoft had gotten this patent all of you would be crying foul. :mad:
 

longofest

Editor emeritus
Jul 10, 2003
2,882
1,546
Falls Church, VA
Patents like this tend to be fuzzy territory. If Apple did decide to go after other folks in this case, they could very well get ruled against and get the patent struck down as being "too broad".

Either way, I'd like to see Apple stay away from using its lawyers for once. However, maybe they can use the threat of a lawsuit as leverage to get the cell carriers to play along with the iPhone...
 

flyfish29

macrumors 68020
Feb 4, 2003
2,173
4
New HAMpshire
I find the press release a bit odd...

details still arn't clear. I would assume based on the settlement, Apple would have full rights to use it... but I'd be surprised if they signed over the patent to Apple which is what this quote essentially suggests.

What's the incentive for that?

arn

I think the incentive is that the Brothers got huge bucks easily without huge lawyer expenses and in return Apple who we know already knows how to sue can use their clout to get financial returns based on the patent. No small music store is going to have the resources to get the financial potential out of a patent such as this.

I think this is great news- (mostly cause we ALL KNOW what MS would have done had they received this patent!) now whether apple decides to do major things with it or just keep it to themselves has yet to be seen. I wonder if they will just hold onto it and if they start losing ground might then decide to do something about it. time will tell.
 

pagansoul

macrumors 65816
Aug 10, 2006
1,041
40
Earth
It may be that the owners don't want to be bothered with law suits and handed it over to Apple as long as they get a % of the take. It saves them the paperwork and hassle and leave a company who is equiped to go after those who will use the service. Having to constantly fight for action on patent infringement is not something a small company wants to get into.
 

Gasu E.

macrumors 601
Mar 20, 2004
4,765
2,808
Not far from Boston, MA.
I find the press release a bit odd...

details still arn't clear. I would assume based on the settlement, Apple would have full rights to use it... but I'd be surprised if they signed over the patent to Apple which is what this quote essentially suggests.

What's the incentive for that?

arn

Patent rights are frequently sold and reassigned, for the reason that the original developer is a small operation that doesn't have the resources to go after every violator, and would prefer to just get a guaranteed amount of money upfront. Apple has much more incentive than the developer to defend this patent vigorously; in Apple's case, it is not just a matter of royalty payments, but also a tool to assist in controlling the market. The developer was clearly just interested in getting a significant cash settlement, and Apple was willing to give them one, as long as Apple could also exploit the patent as part of it's overall business strategy. It may also be the case that the developer was promised a fraction of any future revenues Apple derives from royalties or settlements related to this patent.

Later: As usual, I'm too late :)
 

arn

macrumors god
Staff member
Apr 9, 2001
16,286
5,537
It may be that the owners don't want to be bothered with law suits and handed it over to Apple as long as they get a % of the take. It saves them the paperwork and hassle and leave a company who is equiped to go after those who will use the service. Having to constantly fight for action on patent infringement is not something a small company wants to get into.

I suppose so... I guess if they are given a small percentage of potential future licensing, it would be a good incentive to not have to legally pursue it all.

arn
 

Thanatoast

macrumors 65816
Dec 3, 2002
1,007
177
Denver
Apple shouldn't push too hard on this. I don't want to have to lump them with the RIAA, MPAA and cell phone theives. Let good karma take its course.
 

bigandy

macrumors G3
Apr 30, 2004
8,852
0
Murka
No one should have control of a patent like this. Generic, unused software patents like this should be destroyed. If someone else like Creative or Microsoft had gotten this patent all of you would be crying foul. :mad:

i agree. but then again i'm not a fan of software patents at all right now. :rolleyes:
 

tk421

macrumors 6502a
Dec 7, 2005
655
2
Los Angeles
No one should have control of a patent like this. Generic, unused software patents like this should be destroyed. If someone else like Creative or Microsoft had gotten this patent all of you would be crying foul. :mad:

Agreed. This is garbage. People have been downloading stuff on the internet, and before that on networks, for a long time.
 

Lancetx

macrumors 68000
Aug 11, 2003
1,991
619
If someone else like Creative or Microsoft had gotten this patent all of you would be crying foul. :mad:

Yeah, because Creative and especially Microsoft have well defined reputations for stifling innovation and for holding patents over their competitors heads for ransom, Apple is not nearly so notorious for such behavior.
 

lmalave

macrumors 68000
Nov 8, 2002
1,614
0
Chinatown NYC

MacinDoc

macrumors 68020
Mar 22, 2004
2,267
6
The Great White North
I suppose Apple may consider this an ace up its sleeve to be used if the Zune ever gains a significant market share.

Mind you, Apple is not yet in a position to tell Microsoft where to go...
 

echeck

macrumors 68000
Apr 20, 2004
1,831
21
Boise, Idaho
I could be wrong, but if Apple is indeed in control of this patent now, I don't think they'll use it to start suing everybody. They'll use it as leverage against various companies to play with Apple, such as movie studios.
 

arn

macrumors god
Staff member
Apr 9, 2001
16,286
5,537
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.