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Apple loses patent infringement case, must pay $8m

Found to have infringed downloadable playlist patents
Mon Jul 11 2011, 12:54

SMARTPHONE AND TABLET MAKER Apple will have to pay $8m after losing a patent infringement case related to downloadable playlists.

A federal jury in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas ruled that Apple had infringed two patents belonging to Personal Audio, which sued the company in 2009.

Personal Audio originally wanted $84m in damages, according to Bloomberg, but it appears that it got less than 10 per cent of that amount in the final ruling.

Personal Audio also went after several other smaller companies over the same patents, including media player and tablet maker Archos, but all of them decided to settle out of court, leaving Apple to fight alone.

The patents in question are US Patent Numbers 6,199,076 and 7,509,178, which cover an audio program player with a dynamic program selection controller and an audio program distribution and playback system, respectively.

The first was filed in 1996 and approved in 2001, while the second was filed in 2001 and approved in 2009, making both technologies older than the original Ipod, which launched in 2001.

In layman's terms the technology involves downloading a playlist and skipping forwards or backwards through the list to find a particular song. Personal Audio alleged that Apple was using this technology in both its Iphone and Ipod.

Apple claimed that it was not using the patented technology and that the patents were invalid anyway, but the court did not agree, upholding their validity and deciding that Apple was liable for infringement.

It's not yet clear if Apple will pay up or appeal the verdict. $8m will be a relatively small chunk of change compared to the revenue that Apple brings in, which was over $8bn for the Ipod alone last year, so it might decide it's better to cut its losses now. If it appeals and fails it could end up paying more. µ

 

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