Apple slapped with iTunes customization lawsuit

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A new lawsuit is charging Apple's iTunes Store, and almost everything it touches, with overstepping the boundaries of a smaller firm's patents, AppleInsider has learned.



Filed on April 24th in the now infamous Marshall, Texas court division, the 5-page formal complaint by Internet media firm Individual Network LLC alleges that Apple's iTunes Store is violating a patent relating to targeted media delivery.



Addressed in the patent, titled "Method and System for Providing a Customized Media List," is the concept of tailoring a list of digitally transmitted content based on personalized info. Ads, music, and TV shows could be selectively shown to the user once a database server compares its media library against a user's recent choices. This last aspect could include anything from personal profiles to the user's playback history.



All of this will be familiar to regular customers of Apple's service. Individual Network effectively claims that the aspects of iTunes Store's front-end which narrow content based on an Apple ID's data and habits -- such as the genre tabs that have appeared in the main window, or the Just For You feature -- directly infringe on the patent, supposedly causing serious damage to the LLC's business.



The question of prior art may loom over the case from the outset. While the patent itself was filed in July of 2002, almost a year before the inception of the music-only iTunes Store, the plaintiff's own argument points to the patent's official issue date as October 3, 2006 -- roughly a year after Just For You made its public debut as part of iTunes 6 and later still compared to the iTunes Store's tabs.



Whichever claim holds the most merit, the consequences for Apple of losing the case would prove more severe than the other suit filed in April by IP Innovation.



Individual Network's complaint accuses Apple's entire music ecosystem of profiteering from iTunes sales and points to anything which can download copies of that content, including the iPod, as contributing to the reported damage. If won under ideal circumstances, the suit would grant the plaintiff not just royalties for every iTunes song or video sold but also a "reasonable" percentage of the revenue from associated devices such as all iPods. The Apple TV and iPhone may also be subject to a future ruling.



The jury trial demanded by the complainant also pushes for a permanent injunction that would block any sales of unlicensed iTunes and iPod goods, forcing the Cupertino-based electronics maker to accommodate Individual Network's demands even during the possible appeals process.



As with the suit from two weeks ago, Apple has already received its formal notice; however, the company has so far maintained its typical silence on legal matters, preferring instead to let the court system speak for itself.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 50
    boogabooga Posts: 1,079member
    Hopefully the recent Supreme Court decision regarding patentability in the face of "obvious" inventions will quell this sort of thing in the future. I have no problems with patents on truly innovative things that took substantial resources to develop, but shotgun patenting of everything you can think of should definitely take a blow with the recent decision.
  • Reply 2 of 50
    jasenj1jasenj1 Posts: 916member
    You aren't successful if someone isn't suing you.



    - Jasen.
  • Reply 3 of 50
    schmidm77schmidm77 Posts: 223member
    How long has Amazon been making recommendations to me based on my previous browsing and buying habits?
  • Reply 4 of 50
    bignumbersbignumbers Posts: 29member
    Apple has $12B cash on hand.



    I think they should simply buy Marshall, TX and be done with this nonsense.
  • Reply 5 of 50
    tbotbo Posts: 2member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bignumbers View Post


    Apple has $12B cash on hand.



    I think they should simply buy Marshall, TX and be done with this nonsense.



    Yeah, well, then the next one will creep up with another violation or whatever. It's like roaches. You can't keep them as pets and hope they don't multiply...\
  • Reply 6 of 50
    othelloothello Posts: 1,053member
    the american legal system really is terrible...
  • Reply 7 of 50
    sjgelmansjgelman Posts: 5member
    First, about "prior art". The relevant date is the filing date of the application (July 2002) and not the issue date of the patent. So anything before July 2002 could be used as prior art.



    Second, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision yesterday on obviousness didn't change anything. They just pointed out that in that particular case (KSR v. Teleflex) that the Federal Circuit (the appeals court responsible for handling all patent appeals cases) made a mistake. The obviousness standard stays as it was.
  • Reply 8 of 50
    bdj21yabdj21ya Posts: 297member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by othello View Post


    the american legal system really is terrible...



    Blame that pesky 7th amendment. Jury trials are outdated for a lot of todays technical cases.
  • Reply 9 of 50
    porchlandporchland Posts: 478member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by othello View Post


    the american legal system really is terrible...



    Because somebody filed a lawsuit? Please.



    Commercial disputes, even ridiculous ones that are obviously intended to leach off someone else's success, are just part of the cost of doing business.



    Apple will grind this company down and make it spend a fortune pursuing the case.
  • Reply 10 of 50
    jdwjdw Posts: 786member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by othello View Post


    the american legal system really is terrible...



    I concur. But keep in mind though that "We The People" are still the proponents of that system, and they will be the ones who decide whether to keep it on the current path of injustice. (Yes, lawsuits like this are frivilous, and the very act of allowing them in court is "unjust".) Sadly, most Americans have a deep seeded problem in thinking they have everything that is "the best in the world." Many in the US use this as an excuse to maintain the status quo in the legal system, even if such threatens to destroy the very foundation of the American economic system.



    Software patents need to be nullified worldwide, along with any patent that is held by a company that does not actively sell and maintain a real sellable product based on those patents. Anything less is a slap in the face at justice because it in effect legalizes extortion.
  • Reply 11 of 50
    aplnubaplnub Posts: 2,591member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by othello View Post


    the american legal system really is terrible...



    Find me one that isn't.
  • Reply 12 of 50
    fraklincfraklinc Posts: 244member
    everytime a company start something for example apple started carrying the inames people started filling millions of patents for similar names to stort money from the company at some point in the future another example is sony ps3, people whent krazy trying to register the domain on the web, that should be a crime to me thats extortion just like anything else
  • Reply 13 of 50
    zandroszandros Posts: 537member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JDW View Post




    Software patents need to be nullified worldwide, along with any patent that is held by a company that does not actively sell and maintain a real sellable product based on those patents. Anything less is a slap in the face at justice because it in effect legalizes extortion.



    Agree with the first statement, but not the second. There are lots of companies who have the mental resources but not the finance to successfully bring a product to market, and instead make money by licensing their inventions to companies who has.



    This is perfectly acceptable, IMO.



    Remember, the patent system was created to protect the rights of the small person towards large companies, though it certainly doesn't seem that way today, in a similar matter that copyright laws were intended to protect the artist against the huge record companies, not against the customer...
  • Reply 14 of 50
    phizzphizz Posts: 142member
    If this doesn't get dropped due to prior art, there is definitely something twisted happening in the U.S. I mean come on, a patent for making product recommendations based on a user's past interests in related products? That has surely been around as long as humans existed. I bet in 5,000 B.C., if Mr. Zog sold several items, including wooden cups, and Mrs. Chin was particulary keen on wooden cups, then the next time Mrs. Chin went to Mr. Zog's shop, well, Mr. Zog is sure as hell gonna show her his latest range of wooden cups, ain't he?
  • Reply 15 of 50
    jdwjdw Posts: 786member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aplnub View Post


    Find me one that isn't.



    Japan.

    (Seriously, your comment was rather flippant, lacking knowledge of legal systems outside the US. Your comment is a classic example of the attitude I just described about how most Americans think concerning everything in America being the same or better than anywhere else in the world.)



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Zandros View Post


    There are lots of companies who have the mental resources but not the finance to successfully bring a product to market, and instead make money by licensing their inventions to companies who has...Remember, the patent system was created to protect the rights of the small person towards large companies...



    The purpose of the current patent system was to protect individuals or smaller companies who would work to get an idea to market in a reasonable amount of time without fear of a larger, cash-rich company coming along and snatching away that idea. But the fact remains that individuals or smaller companies still need to work toward getting that idea turned into a sellable product, otherwise the idea is worthless to society. But the current legal system in the United States opens to the door to lazy or inept developers to merely patent an idea and then sit back and cast a little money at lawyers who will sue with vigor anyone who appears to be using part of that patent. This is abuse of the system as it was originally intended. And ultimately, it only works to stifle innovation by smaller companies who fear lawsuits if their ideas become successful -- yes, even ideas that are patented in some ways. How ironic isn't it that a system that was intended to protect "the little guys" has become a monstrous system that promotes extortion under the guise of "patent rights" and "the freedom to sue"!
  • Reply 16 of 50
    boogabooga Posts: 1,079member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JDW View Post


    Software patents need to be nullified worldwide, along with any patent that is held by a company that does not actively sell and maintain a real sellable product based on those patents. Anything less is a slap in the face at justice because it in effect legalizes extortion.



    Software patents are a necessity, IMHO. I don't think it's coincidence that the countries with the stronger IP laws have the best economies, and stronger IP tends to go hand-in-hand with improvement in an economy. I just think the "obvious" bar has been set far too low for software patents. There are legitimate software "devices" that take substantial resources to invent but could be copied fairly easily, and some sort of protection must be afforded such investment.



    I do, however, think software patents should be required to 1. be defended up-front or lost-- no "sleeper" patents where the company waits until something becomes popular then jumps out with a patent years later, and 2. be licensed at reasonable terms, where the terms are relative to the fraction of the product composed of by the patent, not about how much they think they can extort with the threat of an injunction.
  • Reply 17 of 50
    jdwjdw Posts: 786member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Booga View Post


    Software patents are a necessity, IMHO.



    Many Americans feel as you do, which is why such patents exist in America.



    For those of you unsure which stand to take, there are numerous site you can Google for further information. Here are some I found to be of interest:



    Software patents and the dependency problem

    Software Patents in Europe

    No Software Patents! (Europe)

    Are Software Patents Evil?

    History of Software Patents (US)
  • Reply 18 of 50
    aplnubaplnub Posts: 2,591member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JDW View Post


    Japan.

    (Seriously, your comment was rather flippant, lacking knowledge of legal systems outside the US. Your comment is a classic example of the attitude I just described about how most Americans think concerning everything in America being the same or better than anywhere else in the world.)



    You could have answered my question with one word. Evidently, you need to make assumptions about my attitude and how it describes an entire country and call my comment flippant. Quite frankly, your comment is a little weird about America thinking we are the same or better in "everything" compared to the rest of the world. While it is true we have endless supplies of toliet paper, I don't know anyone at my work that thinks America is top dawg of every aspect of life. Obviously, we live here, so are a bit bias atht time, but by no means blind.



    If Japan's legal system is not terrible, great. I am glad to know that and would like others to mention more.



    Merci au revoir,



    aplnub
  • Reply 19 of 50
    davegeedavegee Posts: 2,765member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JDW View Post


    Japan.

    (Seriously, your comment was rather flippant, lacking knowledge of legal systems outside the US. Your comment is a classic example of the attitude I just described about how most Americans think concerning everything in America being the same or better than anywhere else in the world.)



    Get over yourself... his comment was no less flippant then the posters comment stating the US legal system was terrible... Oh wait, are you still in the mode where anyone can say anything they like so long as its has anti-US overtones?



    It sure seems like it to me or you would have been commenting on the flippant comment about the US legal system being terrible. Since painting something as complex as a legal system with a single word (terrible/great/etc) would be like me saying the Sun is terrible simply because I got a sun burn last summer and forgoing all of the good the Sun does.



    Oh and Japan has a 'less than terrible' legal system? Maybe it does but where was the I when this was put up to a world-vote ?? **or** Did you just flippantly hand down this proclamation all by yourself?
  • Reply 20 of 50
    jonjon Posts: 1member
    I'm sure the Apple Store had those features prior to 2001.



    I also remember reading that Amazon themselves hold the patent for "product suggestions".
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