Apple is sued over alleged iTunes patent infringement
Apple is facing another round of problems concerning alleged iTunes and iPod patent infringements. After a patent dispute with Burst was only settled last November, Apple is now being challenged by Zapmedia. The Atlanta vendor claims that Apple's iTunes jukebox and online store software and its portable iPod media player violate a patent granted to Zapmedia for a hardware and software system for sharing digital content. US patent number 7,343,414 (System and method for distributing media assets to user devices and managing user rights of the media assets) was granted to Zapmedia Services Inc. on 11. March 2008. The patent was applied for on 20. September 2005.
According to a report in Atlanta Business Chronicle, Zapmedia Services claims rights, which are based on patents applied for and granted to its predecessor company Zapmedia Inc. Zapmedia Inc. offered services and hardware based on these patents in the US. According to the patent specification, the current patent is based on US patent 7,020,704 (System and method for distributing media assets to user devices via a portal synchronised by said user devices), which was applied for on 5. October 2000 and granted on 28. March 2006. This patent in turn relates to technologies already submitted for patenting in 1999.
According to the US newspaper, Zapmedia had previously met with technology and media companies around the world, including Apple, to explain and demonstrate the technology it developed and patented or submitted for patenting. The company also claims it made Apple aware of the patents and their availability for license when Apple launched the iPod and iTunes in 2001 and the iTunes Music Store in 2003. Zapmedia stated that it now has no option but to protect its rights in court; it is suing for damages and an injunction against Apple's use of the patented technologies. Apple has not commented on the claim.