There are quite a number of suits that have been filed against Apple and some of them are really curious ones. These suits have named several other companies like Amazon, Microsoft and the like as co-defendendants. Most of these suits are against three of Apples products namely iTunes, Safari and Mac OS X.
The first suit has been filed in a Texas federal district court and states that Apples’ iTune Store infringes on the patent of online music downloads. There is another suit on similar lines that states that Safari, DVD Player, Front Row and Mac OS X has also infringed on several patents which deal with the lengths of the text and data.
The first lawsuit has been filed in Eastern District of Texas by Sharing Sound LLC. They have the patent to a right for the distribution of music products over the internet. However, their claim is that Apple has a provision to download the songs using a unique identifier which links the file to a particular buyer.
The other companies such as Sony, Microsoft, Rhapsody, Napster and Brilliant Digital Media have also been named in the lawsuit. If you think that Amazon has been left out of the lawsuit then that is not the case. Sharing Sound has also filed a similar kind of patent suit against companies like Netflix, Wal-Mart, Barnes and Nobles and GameStop. The suit is slightly different than the one filed against Apple as it does not include the unique key in the downloaded files. In case Sharing Sound was to win this lawsuit then it will certainly have worldwide ripple effect on the digital music distribution system for the next ten years at least. Although looking at the patent, it is too broad based to be actually put into force.
Looking at another lawsuit that has been filed in Western Texas by Monkey Media which states that some of the features of Mac OS X and Safari are the same as the company’s patent. The founder of MonkeyMedia, Eric Gould is the inventor of these three inventions. These patents deal with different kinds of pieces of data that are displayed using the user control. As the user gets to adjust the smaller pieces of data, only the most important ones are shown.
The MonkeyMedia press release claims that Safari’s RSS feed has features that infringe this particular patent of theirs about the amount of data to be controlled and shown. The lawsuit claims a similar thing for Mac OS X too.
These lawsuits are not really clear about what parts infringe the patents. If this were to be the case then this kind of lawsuit could apply to every DVD player, music downloaded and editing software.