Legal Loop: iTunes is the Latest Victim of Patent Litigation

Apple is being brought to court in yet another patent lawsuit, this time involving iTunes and the way it handles data. South African inventor Benjamin Grobler is suing Apple in a Northern California district court for infringing upon U.S. Patent No. 6,799,084, issued in September 2004, with its iTunes service. The patent in question relates to “data vending systems,” which includes a particular method of storing and identifying data.

The invention provides among other things a data vending system, including a data depot for storing digitized or analog music, video, games, information, and computer programs, and a data dispensing device in communication with the data depot, according to a record of the patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

It also provides for a uniquely identifiable recordable data carrier, described as a recordable device like a removal hard disk or flash memory, configured for recording data from the data dispensing device, and a database for keeping a record of the data recorded by a user onto the recordable device, at least a part of which is stored remotely from the device.

Grobler is seeking damages for the “irreparable harm” that has resulted from Apple and its iTunes customers infringing upon his patent, but it more or less seems as if this individual is attempting to piggyback off the massive cash cow that Apple is.

Sony and its PlayStation Network were also named in the lawsuit.

Apple has been involved in numerous different lawsuits over the past few years, and a recent class action lawsuit has resulted in the iPhone maker having to cough up a $15 settlement to iPhone 4 users with antenna and reception issues. Do you think the patent system has gone too far?

[Computer World via iDB]


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