updated 03:45 pm EDT, Thu May 14, 2009
Apple in Shazam lawsuit
Apple and AT&T are two of several companies being targeted in a new patent infringement lawsuit, court documents show. The case was initiated by Tune Hunter, a company which owns a patent titled Music identification system, granted in September of 2005. The patent describes "a method for marking the time and the name of the radio station in portable device such as a key holder, watch, cellular phone, beeper or the like which will allow the user to learn via internet [sic] or regular telephone the name of the song, artist and/or music company by matching the stored data with broadcast archive."
While not making reference to specific products in its filing, it is believed that Tune Hunter may be targeting services like Shazam, which let users hold a phone up to a radio or some other audio source in order to identify a song. A Shazam app is available not only for the Apple iPhone but other smartphones, like BlackBerries and the T-Mobile G1. The defendants in the lawsuit are accused of "making, using, selling and/or offering to sell, and/or causing others to use...music identification systems and/or devices that are covered by one or more claims."
Other companies listed as culpable include Samsung, Napster, Motorola, Gracenote, LG, Pantech and Cellco Partnership, the last under its Verizon Wireless brand. Companies directly involved in producing song recognition apps are conspicuously absent; Tune Hunter is nevertheless asking the court for damages, a halt to infringing actions, and compensation for legal costs. "At least one or more" of the defendants are said to have been notified about the patent before the lawsuit was launched.