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Personal Audio expands claims against Apple over playlists

updated 08:30 pm EDT, Wed July 20, 2011

Has already won an $8M judgement

Personal Audio LLC, a patent troll that was recently awarded an $8 million judgement in a dispute with Apple over the concept of playlists, has expanded the litigation to cover devices released since the original trial began, including the iPad 2 and the latest generations of iPods, iPhone and iPod Touch, filing a second lawsuit today in the notoriously troll-friendly Eastern Texas court district.

Earlier this month Personal Audio won its case against Apple over two generic patents that described "an audio program player including a dynamic program selection controller" and an "audio program distribution and playback system," which describe the concept of playlists as used in iTunes and other programs. Personal Audio had originally also sued other portable audio device makers such as Archos and Sirius XM, but the other companies settled before the trial concluded. Personal Audio won a one-time payment award after the judge found that Apple had likely violated the patents, but was given only one-tenth the amount it had originallly sought from the iPod maker.

The new lawsuit tries to build upon the judgement in the first (though Apple has yet to formally appeal the verdict) and includes the latest portable audio devices Apple has released since the previous litigation, including the fourth-generation iPod Touch, the iPhone 4, the iPad 2, the iPod Nano (sixth generation) and iPod Shuffle (fourth generation).

Apple and Personal Audio had previously agreed during the first trial that Apple "would not argue that Personal Audio could or should have added [future or un-included products]" to the lawsuit, and that "the parties specifically agreed that Personal Audio may initiate a separate lawsuit accusing New Products of infringement of the patents."

It's not currently known if Apple will continue to press for an appeal or lower settlement as an inducement not to carry the lawsuit further. Though the initial litigation went against Apple, it could still argue (particularly if it can show that the case should be moved out of the Eastern Texas District Court) that the original patents were not violated and are themselves invalid.

Personal Audio LLC makes no meaningful products of its own and relies solely on royalties and threatened lawsuits for income. Such companies often either inherit patents from defunct companies or buys the patents from elsewhere in the hopes of turning a profit from the lawsuit. [via Florian Mueller]

by MacNN Staff





    Comment buried. Show
  1. canadave

    Joined: Dec 1969


    "patent troll"??

    Come, now. Please. These guys are "patent trolls" for playlists, but Apple isn't a "patent troll" for trying to patent "app store"? Like Apple wouldn't try to sue apple farmers for the use of the word "apple" if they thought they had the slightest chance of winning?

    I love Apple and have Macs all over my house, but please, MacNN--more facts, less opinion, please.

  1. facebook_Alexander

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jul 2011


    yes, patent troll.

    Patent trolls do not make any products whatsoever. Apple, on the other hand, made/makes products using many of their patents. Patent trolls only exist to sue and/or license their bought patents. And "app store" is being trademarked, which is different. For instance, "Windows" is trademarked by MS so no other company/product/etc in the same industry can use it without permission.

    don't be an idiot with the "apple farmers" comment. Unless the farmers try to sell electronics and such, there is no reason to confuse the two.

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