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Hold Everything: Spotify Sued for Patent Infringement

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By: Corey Tate
July 28, 2011
The Spotify honeymoon is officially over. Spotify has been sued for patent infringement by a company named PacketVideo, who lays claim to owning the patent used in Spotify's streaming music to a mobile device. Let the Spotify lawsuit begin ...

The Spotify lawsuit is for patent number 5,636,276, which is titled "Device for the distribution of music information in digital form. TechDirt gets the props on this one for the report, saying:

"Hello Spotify. Welcome to America, where if you do anything even remotely innovative, you get sued for patent infringement. Indeed, just a couple weeks after entering the US market (finally), Spotify is being sued by PacketVideo for patent infringement."

From there, the story digs in on how Spotify is allegedly guilty for streaming music to a mobile device like and Android mobile phone, iPhone or iPad because it owns the patent on streaming audio to a mobile device. I've included a snippet of the patent below, but it gets real boring real fast:

"selectively chosen music information is organized with a defined format for transmission in a digital music information object, the format including a core and a number of additional layers, the core including at least one object identification code, object structure information, a consumer code and an encryption table and the one or more additional layers including the actual music information."

So now some questions come to mind ... Why Spotify and not MOG, Rdio, Slacker Radio and others who have their own mobile apps? Also, what happens when approved patents become so general that nobody can build anything without violating a number of different patents? Aren't patents are supposed to protect and encourage innovation, not inhibit innovation?

NPR's This American Life did a show about this just last weekend, in which companies buy up patents as a means to litigate against anyone even remotely close to violating the patent. Sometimes these companies are not interested in creating a product centered around the patent, just patent lawsuits when someone uses them. You can listen to the story above, it ties in kind of nicely with this Spotify patent lawsuit.

There's also been a response from Spotify ... Brenna Ehrlich  from Mashable spoke to a Spotify representative, who said the following:

“In just under three years, Spotify has become more popular than any other music service of its kind. This success is, in large part, due to our own highly innovative, proprietary hybrid technology that incorporates peer-to-peer technology. The result is what we humbly believe to be a better music experience – lightning fast, dead simple and really social.

“PacketVideo is claiming that by distributing music over the Internet, Spotify (and by inference any other similar digital music service) has infringed one of the patents that has previously been acquired by PacketVideo. Spotify is strongly contesting PacketVideo’s claim.”

As it is so often with these stories, the Spotify lawsuit is just beginning ...

Check out more about steaming music sites in the Spacelab Streaming Music Guide.


Tags: Spotify, Digital Music News

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