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Apple, AT&T sued over ties to Shazam music ID service

post #1 of 70
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Apple, AT&T and several others have been named in a new patent infringement lawsuit, presumably for their connection to Shazam, a maker of music identification software distributed under the same name for the iPhone and several other mobile devices.

The 8-page complaint, filed Tuesday by Tune Hunter, Inc. in the patent litigation-friendly Marshall Division of Texas, broadly alleges that nearly a dozen tech companies are contributing to infringement of is US patent No. 6,941,275 for a "Music identification system" granted in September of 2005.

When it originally lodged its patent application with the USPTO nine years ago, the little-known firm described its invention as relating "to a music identification/purchasing system, specifically to a method for marking the time and the name of the radio station in portable device such as a key holder, watch, cellular phone, beeper or the like which will allow the user to learn via internet or regular telephone the name of the song, artist and/or music company by matching the stored data with broadcast archive."

The concept is strikingly similar to technology delivered by Shazam's popular namesake application for the iPhone, BlackBerry and G1 handsets, which helps users identify songs playing in their surroundings by capturing a sample of the track, analyzing it, and then comparing it with a remote database based on its acoustic footprint. If a song is correctly identified, users are presented with links to iTunes and Amazon -- another named defendant -- which they can use to immediately purchase the song.

In its complaint, Tune Hunter doesn't specify its gripes with each individual defendant. Instead, it charges them broadly with contributing to the infringement or inducing the infringement of its patent "by making, using, selling and/or offering to sell, and/or causing others to use [...] music identification systems and/or devices that are covered by one or more claims" of its patent.

The company, which is seeking that each defendant pay damages, attorneys' fees, and be enjoined from further infringement, claims to have notified "at least one or more" of those defendants about its patent, but says those parties took no action and continued their "willful and deliberate" infringement.

Shazam is available as a free music identification app for the iPhone.

Among the other defendants named in the suit are Samsung, Napster, Motorola, Gracenote, LG Electronics, Pantech Wireless, and Cellco Partnership (doing business as Verizon Wireless).
post #2 of 70
I'm gonna sue Tune Hunter for emotional distress.

Jimzip
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post #3 of 70
Shazam is an amazing thing, so I don't blame these guys for trying to argue they thought of it first, but it sure doesn't sound like the same thing at all to me.

The description of their patent idea here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

... a music identification/purchasing system, specifically to a method for marking the time and the name of the radio station in portable device such as a key holder, watch, cellular phone, beeper or the like which will allow the user to learn via internet or regular telephone the name of the song, artist and/or music company by matching the stored data with broadcast archive. ...

Sounds to me like what they patented was the idea of taking note of the time it was played and on what station so that their "service" (which was presumably never started or even designed yet), can look it up and tell you what it was that was playing. There is really nothing here to suggest that this is really that similar to Shazam, which analyses the song itself, and doesn't care what source it came from or what time it was played.
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post #4 of 70
I never understand why people like this go after everyone and the aunt? Surely simply suing Shazam should be enough?
post #5 of 70
I guess that is a problem of becoming the mandatory publisher for all iPhone software.
post #6 of 70
Shazam does not work in the same way, it uses a sample of the music and compares it to a database.

The other 'idea' uses the date/time/radio station to find the track on the internet.
post #7 of 70
Does Tune Hunter have a product? There should be a ruling that no patent can be filed until a working product exists and no claim will be accepted unless the litigator's product can be demonstrated.

Tune Hunter doesn't even seem to have a web site.
post #8 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by parky View Post

Shazam does not work in the same way, it uses a sample of the music and compares it to a database.

The other 'idea' uses the date/time/radio station to find the track on the internet.

Exactly. Is there something I'm missing here or are these guys just another money-grabbing bunch of jerks? The description resembles Shazam's functionality somewhat, but even if that's so, there's no reason to go a huntin for all other companies that are even remotely tied to the Shazam service....

Someone more legal minded than me (ie, everyone...) care to take a dig at this one?

Jimzip
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post #9 of 70
Shazam is one of my favorite apps. It, plus the new iTS purchase over AT&T has made me an iTunes music store customer for the first time since its launch.
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post #10 of 70
They move Marshall Division of Texas start a claim and hope to win.

This one seems seems like an easy win, for all involved. The Tune Hunters should change their name to Fund Hunters
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post #11 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

Does Tune Hunter have a product? There should be a ruling that no patent can be filed until a working product exists and no claim will be accepted unless the litigator's product can be demonstrated.

Tune Hunter doesn't even seem to have a web site.

Dude that's exactly what I was thinking. We should all start filing for patents on the craziest futuristic ideas we can think of, then someday, even though we don't make any product whatsoever, we can sue anyone who turns our idea into reality!

Rocket shoes, banana cameras, touch screen dildos, spring loaded beer, invisible gum, computers for dogs, french fry gardens, fingernail polish clocks, solar powered lifeguard robots. These are all things I came up with off the top of my head in 5 seconds, imagine how rich we could be some day if we hold the patents long enough!

I wonder if some old man will come forward one day, holding a paper proving he filed for a patent, screaming, "I invented cell phones!"
post #12 of 70
I am tired of this attitude in America of sue until you get rich. It seems like no one wants to do anything in order to make money. They wait for someone to actually develop a product and then ask to collect royalties. This ends up adding cost to products that we buy everyday.

I think the judge should ask to see the research and product testing from tune hunter. if tune hunter actually has done any research or developed the technology to do so, they might have a case. if they came up with a loose idea without any technology, too bad for them. IMO.
post #13 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by iStink View Post

... I wonder if some old man will come forward one day, holding a paper proving he filed for a patent, screaming, "I invented cell phones!"

Would be funnier with the wheel...
post #14 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by iStink View Post

Dude that's exactly what I was thinking. We should all start filing for patents on the craziest futuristic ideas we can think of, then someday, even though we don't make any product whatsoever, we can sue anyone who turns our idea into reality!

Rocket shoes, banana cameras, touch screen dildos, spring loaded beer, invisible gum, computers for dogs, french fry gardens, fingernail polish clocks, solar powered lifeguard robots. These are all things I came up with off the top of my head in 5 seconds, imagine how rich we could be some day if we hold the patents long enough!

I wonder if some old man will come forward one day, holding a paper proving he filed for a patent, screaming, "I invented cell phones!"


I call: Helicopter ejection seat, solar powered flash light, glow in the dark sunglasses, invisible diamonds.
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post #15 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissionGrey View Post

I call: Helicopter ejection seat, solar powered flash light, glow in the dark sunglasses, invisible diamonds.


I've long ago tired of the inevitable "I patented air!!!" rants that follow these articles, but this is funny...
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post #16 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bageljoey View Post


I've long ago tired of the inevitable "I patented air!!!" rants that follow these articles, but this is funny...

I call "Air" - with a capital A !! hahah. Nike - you owe me eleventy billion dollars!
post #17 of 70
Coming up with an idea is simple. So is filing a patent. Delivering a product which works is the hard part. I have some advise for Tune Hunter: retract the lawsuit. You will lose.
post #18 of 70
You are kidding right? Shazam doesn't have any money. Furthermore, companies like Apple made money from the sale, thereby benefiting from the alleged infringement. With that said, as another poster commented, the Patent doesn't seem to be the same thing to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajmas View Post

I never understand why people like this go after everyone and the aunt? Surely simply suing Shazam should be enough?
post #19 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigmc6000 View Post

I call "Air" - with a capital A !! hahah. Nike - you owe me eleventy billion dollars!

Hilarity aside, you can't get a patent on a thing or even an idea, you can only get a patent on an implementation.

In this case, it sounds like the basic idea (using teh internets to identify songs), is the same, but the implementation is totally different.

So, yeah ... total fail.
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post #20 of 70
I don't think Tune Hunter has much of a leg to stand on, as the technology they describe as owning is different than what Shazam is doing. Looks like a money-grab to me, hence throwing out such a wide net and suing every company involved with music.

I predict Tune Hunter will lose, if this even makes it to a trial.
post #21 of 70
Unfortunately, our patent system is so messed up that you can actually just sit around all day making up wild ideas, patent them, never make any effort to bring them to life, and sit back hoping somebody infringes the idea.

WIth that said, I don't think Apple infringes the stated patent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by axual View Post

Coming up with an idea is simple. So is filing a patent. Delivering a product which works is the hard part. I have some advise for Tune Hunter: retract the lawsuit. You will lose.
post #22 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by iStink View Post

... touch screen dildos...


Holy shit, I love it!!

maybe even solar powered touch screen dildos... think about it!


no, wait.............. solar powered, touch screen with music identifier built in... just call it Shazoom!
OMG here we go again...
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OMG here we go again...
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post #23 of 70
I patent the human race and every revised or modified version of it.... now where do I sign up for my royalties. Seriously WTF I hope they go bankrupt trying to sue all these other companies trying to get money out of them
post #24 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

Shazam is an amazing thing, so I don't blame these guys for trying to argue they thought of it first, but it sure doesn't sound like the same thing at all to me.

The description of their patent idea here: Sounds to me like what they patented was the idea of taking note of the time it was played and on what station so that their "service" (which was presumably never started or even designed yet), can look it up and tell you what it was that was playing. There is really nothing here to suggest that this is really that similar to Shazam, which analyses the song itself, and doesn't care what source it came from or what time it was played.

I noticed that as well. But Shazam, as was pointed out, doesn't seem to do this at all, rather it analyses the actual song itself, and then goes to a database to see if it's correct. That database isn't from a radio station, but one in a computer.

That seems to be rather different.

It could also be why companies didn't bother responding to them in the past.
post #25 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by iStink

... touch screen dildos...


Quote:
Originally Posted by BuzDots View Post

Holy shit, I love it!!

maybe even solar powered touch screen... think about it!


no, wait.............. solar powered, touch screen with music identifier built in... just call it Shazoom!

<Edna Krabappel>HAH! </Edna>
post #26 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimzip View Post

Exactly. Is there something I'm missing here or are these guys just another money-grabbing bunch of jerks? The description resembles Shazam's functionality somewhat, but even if that's so, there's no reason to go a huntin for all other companies that are even remotely tied to the Shazam service....

Someone more legal minded than me (ie, everyone...) care to take a dig at this one?

Jimzip

If they invented an idea but couldn't get financing for its development, that doesn't mean that they shouldn't be allowed to defend their patent.

If anything, it's the company who takes their patent for themselves who hould be sued. After all, they had a choice of several different things they could have done instead.

They could have asked for a license.

They could have gone into business with the patent holder.

They could have bought the patent holder.

They could have developed an alternative way of doing the same thing.

That's the way it normally works.

In this case, it seems as though the methods used by Shazam are different enough from what they've patented so that Tune Hunter will lose the case. But without reading the entire patent, and the exact methods by which Shazam works, we don't really know.

Why are some people here so opposed to the idea of licensing patents? This is a very common way of doing business. A person or small company invents something but is not in a position to follow through or market it, and others who are prepared, license it.
post #27 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by axual View Post

Coming up with an idea is simple. So is filing a patent. Delivering a product which works is the hard part. I have some advise for Tune Hunter: retract the lawsuit. You will lose.

You can't patent an idea.
post #28 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

Unfortunately, our patent system is so messed up that you can actually just sit around all day making up wild ideas, patent them, never make any effort to bring them to life, and sit back hoping somebody infringes the idea.

WIth that said, I don't think Apple infringes the stated patent.

Again, you can't patent an idea.

You start with an idea. But you must come up with a viable way of implementing that idea. That's what is patentable, not the idea itself.
post #29 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Again, you can't patent an idea.

You start with an idea. But you must come up with a viable way of implementing that idea. That's what is patentable, not the idea itself.

And Virgil-TB2 has it right too. You can only patent the method of doing something. Not the idea of doing something. Even though the end result might be very nearly the same, the techniques used are entirely different, with this exception: using the internet to store and retrieve the signatures is a method of sorts. That *should* however fail the obviousness test, and the prior art test (internet database search and retrieval has already been done).
post #30 of 70
Sony's eMarker predates this patent by a ton and does exactly what they describe. I used to have one.
post #31 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Again, you can't patent an idea.

You start with an idea. But you must come up with a viable way of implementing that idea. That's what is patentable, not the idea itself.

My fingernail polish clock idea will use microbial robots that align themselves to properly show the time of day. The robots will be networked so the information is correct. It eventually will be shown to be a cause of cancer but oh well.
post #32 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by iStink View Post

My fingernail polish clock idea will use microbial robots that align themselves to properly show the time of day. The robots will be networked so the information is correct. It eventually will be shown to be a cause of cancer but oh well.

If you can show exactly how this would work, then you could patent it.

Whether anyone would want to buy it is another thing altogether.
post #33 of 70
If you read the patent description, it sounds exactly like the Sony eMarker. The Sony eMarker tagged the time at which you heard a song on the radio. When you docked the device to the computer, it went online and compared the timestamps with playlists for your "favorite" radio stations.

http://www.amazon.com/Sony-eMarker/dp/B00004WIMW

http://tinymicros.com/wiki/Sony_eMarker

http://www.bricklin.com/emarker.htm

On the other hand, Shazam actually analyzes and compares the sound from the song with some sort of database of songs.
post #34 of 70
The patent that was actually granted is pretty much an exact description of Shazam. And although the patent was first submitted in 2000, it was revised several times and not granted until 2005. Shazam debuted in 2002. It's going to be an interesting court case if it goes forward, since essentially they managed to get a patent on the prior art of someone else after the fact.

This is the actual patent claim as it was granted in 2005:
Quote:
1. A process of identifying music comprising:

a) providing a portable communication device to be used by a consumer;

b) a service provider providing a music identification device having a database of prerecorded musical works;

c) the consumer recording a segment of music that is audible to the consumer in a location remote from the music identification device using said portable communication device;

d) the consumer transmitting said recorded musical segment from said portable communication device into a central processing unit of the music identification device;
e) the music identification device analyzing and comparing said musical segment to the database of musical works;
f) the music identification device identifying at least one closest match;
g) the music identification device generating database information regarding said at least one closest match; and
h) the music identification device transmitting the database information regarding said at least one closest match to the consumer.
post #35 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Why are some people here so opposed to the idea of licensing patents? This is a very common way of doing business. A person or small company invents something but is not in a position to follow through or market it, and others who are prepared, license it.

I think the question about a lot of these patents is more whether these ideas/inventions are truly new and not just obvious extensions or progressions of previous ideas or old ideas applied to new areas. (I know its a fine line to have to draw.)

But according to the article this sounds as simple as "I don't have some info (radio station, song, etc), I'll note it and when i have access to the information I'll look it up."

Is this really different then a post it note to remind myself to do something?

Edit: The information Booga provided sounds more like Shazam, but in many cases arguments still hold. What constitutes a patentable idea/implementation aren't there any limits to obviousness.
post #36 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

The description of their patent idea here: Sounds to me like what they patented was the idea of taking note of the time it was played and on what station so that their "service" (which was presumably never started or even designed yet), can look it up and tell you what it was that was playing. There is really nothing here to suggest that this is really that similar to Shazam, which analyses the song itself, and doesn't care what source it came from or what time it was played.

From the patent...
"An alternate embodiment provides the listener with convenient means to record a segment of the music in which he/she is interested. The recorded music segment is played back into an apparatus which can identify the song based on the play back and provide the user with information on the identified song such as title, singer or artist, composer, producer, etc., and provide related purchasing information."
post #37 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by iStink View Post

Rocket shoes, banana cameras, touch screen dildos, spring loaded beer, invisible gum, computers for dogs, french fry gardens, fingernail polish clocks, solar powered lifeguard robots. These are all things I came up with off the top of my head in 5 seconds, imagine how rich we could be some day if we hold the patents long enough!

I already have patents pending on touch-screen dildos and spring-loaded beer, and I'll thank you to keep your grubby thoughts OFF my intellectual property.
post #38 of 70
So what is the process of searching this information? I am a small iPhone developer, and came up with a few ideas. I would hate to bring an app to market only to find that someone had patented the concept.
post #39 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

The patent that was actually granted is pretty much an exact description of Shazam. And although the patent was first submitted in 2000, it was revised several times and not granted until 2005. Shazam debuted in 2002. It's going to be an interesting court case if it goes forward, since essentially they managed to get a patent on the prior art of someone else after the fact.

This is the actual patent claim as it was granted in 2005:

Ah. That's why I said that without reading the actual patent, we can't come to a conclusion.

From this reading, it looks as though they may have a case.

The way it works the process stops upon the patent application. If they changed the patent as technology caught up to them, it would depend on the exact timing of when the revised app was submitted.
post #40 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigmc6000 View Post

I call "Air" - with a capital A !! hahah. Nike - you owe me eleventy billion dollars!

And you sir have violated my patent that describes how to violate patents - you owe me $Texas ... yes, Texas with a dollar sign!!!

Pay up ...

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