Targets were Apple (iTunes), Microsoft (Zune), Napster, Rhapsody, Brilliant Digital Entertainment (Kazaa) and Sony / Sony Ericsson. Similar actions were filed a week earlier against Amazon, Netflix, Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble and GameStop.
The patent being contested – U.S. Patent Number 6,247,130, titled “Distribution of musical products by a website vendor over the Internet” – would essentially prevent all these companies from using any type of online store environment which allows them to provide song previews, a shopping cart or even a music player.
Most of the companies targeted in the lawsuit (apart from BDE and Rhapsody) have already moved to settle their dispute with Sharing Sound, which as far as I know has never managed to use its patented technology to produce anything, or at least not anything interesting.
Apple has now become the latest defendant to settle the patent infringement allegations, which if enforced would have made it difficult for the company to continue running its successful iTunes store.
Judge David Folsom of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (a notoriously patent-friendly state) signed off on the settlement Wednesday, effectively clearing Apple of the allegations.
No specifics on the terms of the deal were revealed.
iTunes, Apple’s digital media player application, was introduced in January 2001. The application allows you to organize and play your digital music and podcast files. iTunes is available as a free download for Mac OS X and Windows. iTunes is able to interface on the iPod digital media player and on Apple’s mobile device, the iPhone
Started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple has expanded from computers to consumer electronics over the last 30 years, officially changing their name from Apple Computer, Inc. to Apple, Inc. in January 2007. Among the key offerings from Apple’s product line are: Pro line laptops (MacBook Pro) and desktops (Mac Pro), consumer line laptops (MacBook Air) and desktops (iMac), servers (Xserve), Apple TV, the Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server operating systems, the iPod, the...