Apple to pay $8M in damages over iPod playlist patent suit

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
A federal jury has decided against Apple in a patent infringement suit accusing Apple of violating two patents related to downloadable playlists for iPods.



Bloomberg reported on Friday that, according to the lawyer for plaintiff Personal Audio, a jury found that patents were indeed infringed on and upheld their validity. Sirius XM Radio, Coby Electronics and Archos were also included in the original suit, but they had settled out of court last year.



Personal Audio, a patent licensing company, sued Apple in 2009 asking for $84 million in damages. Apple was accused of violating U.S. patents 6,199,076 "Audio Program Player Including a Dynamic Program Selection Controller" and 7,509,178 "Audio Program Distribution and Playback System."



The inventions describe an audio player that "can receive navigable playlists and can skip forward or backward through the downloaded list," report author Susan Decker wrote. Apple asserted that the patents were invalid, while also claiming that it wasn't using the inventions.



Patent expert Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents noted that Apple has "little incentive to appeal this decision," as the $8 million damages award is relatively insubstantial for the company, which has more than $60 billion in cash reserves. However, Apple could announce an intent to file an appeal in hopes of negotiating a discounted settlement with the company.



Mueller also compared the case to an ongoing case between iOS developers and Lodsys. The company filed suit in May, alleging that iOS developers have violated patents related to in-app purchasing. Apple has filed a motion to intervene in the case and maintains that the developers are covered under an licensing agreement it signed with Lodsys.



Like Personal Audio, Lodsys is a non-practicing entity that generates income from patent licenses. Both companies also chose to file their cases in East Texas, a district known for favoring so-called "patent trolls."



Apple recently paid $2 billion for a collection of 4G wireless networking patents from Canadian telecommunications company Nortel in hopes of gaining a competitive advantage in the smartphone race. As patent suits have ramped up in recent years, Apple has become the world's most-sued
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 129
    djkikromedjkikrome Posts: 189member
    Amazing how patent trolls can win with stuff as simple as this, yet apple has to fight off the iPhone copy-cats that flat out copied the iPhone in every aspect from touch to design.



    Wish HTC and Motorola would lose out like apple did with this.
  • Reply 2 of 129
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,364member
    I'd live happily on 1/10th of 1/10th of that payout. Truly amazing how patent trolls get away with this.
  • Reply 3 of 129
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by coolfactor View Post


    I'd live happily on 1/10th of 1/10th of that payout. Truly amazing how patent trolls get away with this.



    Some things should not be patents. Imagine only one company had the right to produce lamps, doors, tyres or shoe laces.
  • Reply 4 of 129
    2stepbay2stepbay Posts: 110member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bodypainter View Post


    Some things should not be patents. Imagine only one company had the right to produce lamps, doors, tyres or shoe laces.



    Totally agree. These broad concept patents suppress innovation and creativity, while essentially making the patent system a joke.
  • Reply 5 of 129
    _hawkeye__hawkeye_ Posts: 139member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    East Texas, a district known for favoring so-called "patent trolls."



    Nothing "so-called" about it. They're real trolls:



  • Reply 6 of 129
    Banishing East Texas is next in the agenda I believe. Anybody currently residing there that is not part of the courthouse are ought to be safe at this point.
  • Reply 7 of 129
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,666member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bodypainter View Post


    Some things should not be patents. Imagine only one company had the right to produce lamps, doors, tyres or shoe laces.



    Lamps and tires come to mind, and I'd imagine some shoe laces.



    The problem I have with this patent is that they effectively patented a list. That should fall under the obvious heading.
  • Reply 8 of 129
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    A federal jury has decided against Apple in a patent infringement suit accusing Apple of violating two patents related to downloadable playlists for iPods.



    Bloomberg reported on Friday that, according to the lawyer for plaintiff Personal Audio, a jury found that patents were indeed infringed on and upheld their validity. Sirius XM Radio, Coby Electronics and Archos were also included in the original suit, but they had settled out of court last year.



    Personal Audio, a patent licensing company, sued Apple in 2009 asking for $84 million in damages. Apple was accused of violating U.S. patents 6,199,076 "Audio Program Player Including a Dynamic Program Selection Controller" and 7,509,178 "Audio Program Distribution and Playback System."



    The inventions describe an audio player that "can receive navigable playlists and can skip forward or backward through the downloaded list," report author Susan Decker wrote. Apple asserted that the patents were invalid, while also claiming that it wasn't using the inventions.



    This doesn't remind me of anything that Apple is offering. I don't remember being able to download playlists like that. You can access lists of music by download, but you can't just play them, skip back and forth like the filing says. You pick one at a time to sample or download it.



    Quote:

    Patent expert Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents noted that Apple has "little incentive to appeal this decision," as the $8 million damages award is relatively insubstantial for the company, which has more than $60 billion in cash reserves. However, Apple could announce an intent to file an appeal in hopes of negotiating a discounted settlement with the company.



    That doesn't mean they're interested in paying out if they can get out of it. I think whether they appeal depends on how much it would cost to appeal, and their chances of an overturned or reduced judgment.
  • Reply 9 of 129
    lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,312member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    Lamps and tires come to mind, and I'd imagine some shoe laces.



    The problem I have with this patent is that they effectively patented a list. That should fall under the obvious heading.



    Edison patented the light bulb, and Michelin the tire, unless I'm mistaken, and both were amazing inventions. What you are essentially saying is "if some invention is really useful, it should not be patented". This is not how you favor research.



    The problem is not what you can patent, it's effectively deciding how much money you can make from a patent that you don't use. I think none, but that's my personal opinion and I won't force it upon anyone... yet. (I am honing my taking-over-the-world plan).
  • Reply 10 of 129
    lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,312member
    Whoops, I quoted the wrong guy Sorry about that
  • Reply 11 of 129
    lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,312member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by _Hawkeye_ View Post


    Nothing "so-called" about it. They're real trolls:







    What's so called is the type of troll I guess, like river trolls, mountain trolls, patent trolls, police patrols, yeastrolls...
  • Reply 12 of 129
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lightknight View Post


    Edison patented the light bulb



    Wrong - Edison patented the used of carbon filament, which was far from obvious, he'd tried several thousand filament materials before he found a way to make a carbon filament work.

    Quote:

    and Michelin the tire, unless I'm mistaken,



    You are, John Boyd Dunlop invented and patented the pneumatic tyre. His patent was invalidated as there was prior art, a scottish inventor had already patented it in France and the US 40 years earlier but never commercialized it.

    Quote:

    What you are essentially saying is "if some invention is really useful, it should not be patented". This is not how you favor research.



    No he's saying that a patent must be novel and original, that's not disputed, it's part of the requirement. It's just one that the court in East Texas is notoriously lax about enforcing, which is why patent trolls operate there.
  • Reply 13 of 129
    msimpsonmsimpson Posts: 452member
    The thing to remember about the East Texas court is that is a Federal court, not a Texas state court. The judges are appointed by the POTUS and approved by the Senate. Most of the cases do not involve plaintiffs and defendants from Texas. In fact there are patent cases filed that that don't even involve US companies, but are instead two international companies suing each other over the patents rights to products manufactured in foreign countries but sold in the US. The primary judge in most of these cases is Judge T. John Ward who was appointed by President Clinton in 1999. The number of patent cases filed in the East Texas Federal District court since Ward was appointed a judge has increased tenfold. Plaintiff in cases filed in Judge Ward's court are 20% to 30% more likely to win their case than the average for other federal district courts. Ward has been known to push defendants to settle or face steeper penalties.



    You would think something would be done to stop this practice. Hopefully some defendant with deep pockets will appeal their verdict to a higher court claiming they received an unfair trial because it was tried in the East Texas District Federal court.
  • Reply 14 of 129
    stelligentstelligent Posts: 2,680member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by coolfactor View Post


    I'd live happily on 1/10th of 1/10th of that payout. Truly amazing how patent trolls get away with this.



    $80k is enough to sustain your happiness forever? You're indeed a simple man. Good for you.
  • Reply 15 of 129
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    This doesn't remind me of anything that Apple is offering. I don't remember being able to download playlists like that. You can access lists of music by download, but you can't just play them, skip back and forth like the filing says. You pick one at a time to sample or download it.



    I haven't read the patent, but the AI description sounds exactly like how an iPod works. You download your play list from your computer to the iPod and then have a navigable playlist on the iPod.



    I agree that it's pretty obvious (not to mention that it fails to meet the requirement for specificity), but arguing that Apple doesn't do this is odd.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bodypainter View Post


    Some things should not be patents. Imagine only one company had the right to produce lamps, doors, tyres or shoe laces.



    That's not the way it works.



    When someone comes up with something novel, they are entitled to time-limited protection for that invention. The idea of a lamp goes to early in recorded history, so it can't be patented. Instead, when you come up with an improvement and get a patent, you are the only one who is allowed to practice that improvement while that patent is still in force (unless you choose to license it).



    For example, Edison did not patent a light bulb. He patented a specific innovation that improved the lightbulb. That didn't stop people from making light bulbs, but simply stopped people from using his method.



    Same thing on tires. The Scottish guy was the first person to invent a pneumatic tire and patented it (although he never commercialized it). If pneumatic tires hadn't been done before, that would be a valid patent.



    The entire premise of patents is that someone who comes up with something useful should be able to benefit from their invention. Without patents, innovation would be severely stifled. In particular, small companies would have no incentive to invent anything - because a larger company could just come in and commercialize their invention and wipe the floor with them due to greater resources.
  • Reply 16 of 129
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by msimpson View Post


    You would think something would be done to stop this practice. Hopefully some defendant with deep pockets will appeal their verdict to a higher court claiming they received an unfair trial because it was tried in the East Texas District Federal court.



    They'd need better than that, they'd need to demonstrate a material error in the court's ruling and it can be difficult to do that. Even having done so it wouldn't have any impact on Judge Ward's status as a Federal Judge - that would require impeachment, it isn't something that happens in practice.
  • Reply 17 of 129
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    I haven't read the patent, but the AI description sounds exactly like how an iPod works. You download your play list from your computer to the iPod and then have a navigable playlist on the iPod.



    I agree that it's pretty obvious (not to mention that it fails to meet the requirement for specificity), but arguing that Apple doesn't do this is odd.



    Really? I guess it depends on what is meant by "download". I took it as meaning over the internet, like over iTunes store, I haven't seen why it should be otherwise here. To me, copying a file from a computer to a peripheral device doesn't seem like a download any more than controlling a computer with a mouse is an upload. Especially when the patent mentions subscriber several times, usage and billing, which suggests some kind of internet music service to me, and iTunes doesn't operate like that, at least yet. I get the impression from the patent that the playlist is to be provided by a remote service.
  • Reply 18 of 129
    freerangefreerange Posts: 1,584member
    It's time to nuke east Texas. The average IQ of the US will increase substantially.
  • Reply 19 of 129
    robbydekrobbydek Posts: 34member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bodypainter View Post


    Some things should not be patents. Imagine only one company had the right to produce lamps, doors, tyres or shoe laces.



    I also agree. Although it could stiffle innovation, so maybe a patent that lasts 5-10 years and can't be renewed so that a company is given credit for what they created and allowed to use it.

    I think Apple will appeal because even the small amount could have long term affects to the bottom line. In other words, will it cover the continued sale? what about new products? Although, it could be part of the terms of the agreement.
  • Reply 20 of 129
    ameldrum1ameldrum1 Posts: 249member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    Really? I guess it depends on what is meant by "download". I took it as meaning over the internet, like over iTunes store, I haven't seen why it should be otherwise here. To me, copying a file from a computer to a peripheral device doesn't seem like a download any more than controlling a computer with a mouse is an upload. Especially when the patent mentions subscriber several times, usage and billing, which suggests some kind of internet music service to me, and iTunes doesn't operate like that, at least yet. I get the impression from the patent that the playlist is to be provided by a remote service.



    That's a horrible analogy Jeff. Copying files from a computer to a connected device is a lot like downloading; whilst controlling a computer with a mouse is not even remotely like uploading?



    (The key would be the copying of files...)



    Why don't people on the Internet simply acknowledge when other folks make a good/valid point, and instead come up with silly justifications to defend their (often somewhat silly) positions?



    No response necessary...
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