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Patent Lawsuit May Boot Spotify From USA

Just two weeks after Spotify pitched a tent on American soil and began dishing out its brand of music subscription packages, Twonky creator PacketVideo slapped the company with a lawsuit claiming... you guessed it... patent infringement.

The complaint (Scribd) was submitted on Wednesday in the Southern District of California and claims that Spotify violates a patent for a "device for the Distribution of Music in Digital Form." It also states that Spotify was informed of the patent infringement months before it launched here in the States, but went ignored.

PacketVideo is now asking for triple damages for a "willful" violation. The company also wants the California court to ban Spotify here in the States unless the technology is licensed from PacketVideo. It's also seeking royalties for the patent.

According to the lawsuit, PacketVideo offers "everything from browsing for, recommendation of, and discovery of music and video, to the purchase, playback and sharing of music and video. The company's software supports all major media formats, broadcast standards, home networking protocols, operating systems and handsets/mobile phones. PacketVideo's customers include mobile operators such as Verizon Wireless, NTT DoCoMo and Orange, handset manufacturers, and consumer electronic companies. PacketVideo's software is currently embedded in more than 260 million devices worldwide and more than 320 different products."

The lawsuit also addresses Spotify's Luxembourg and UK divisions.

"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," a Spotify representative said.

Currently the free version of Spotify is invite only, but music lovers can now sign up for the Unlimited and Premium accounts without waiting. For $4.99 per month, Unlimited is a step up from the Free account by eliminating ads and time restraints. Naturally the $9.99 Premium account provides everything Spotify has to offer, from streaming to iOS and Android devices to offline music playback (caching).

Before Spotify launched here in the State earlier this month, the service was only available in the UK, Sweden, Finland, Norway, France, The Netherlands and Spain.

Click here to read our hands-on review of Spotify.

  • Kamab
    The complaint (Scribd) was submitted on Wednesday in the Southern District of California and claims that Spotify violates a patent for a "device for the Distribution of Music in Digital Form."
    I bet this patent is incredibly vague and obvious, and could have been thought up by any amateur in this field (The field being distribution of digital media? How can you patent that?)

    Patent trolls need to disappear.
    Reply
  • wintermint
    Sigh, Spotify is such a good alternative to Pandora. I get to choose my own music and I don't get bashed with Ads as often too.
    Reply
  • Kamab
    Granted I've never studied law, but this patent is from 1997 and describes a physical device on the user end, not a computer application, which doesn't really seem applicable to Spotify. I guess the interaction between the server and device could be a patented concept, but how long do patents like that exist and hold up in court?

    And how can they be suing for damages if nobody has ever heard of PacketVideo? Will our patent system fail again?
    Reply
  • svdb
    The question "How can you patent that?" is actually patented by me.
    So either remove that phrase from your post, or pay me $39999.99, or I'll see you in court. ;)
    Mmwouahaha!
    Reply
  • davewolfgang
    All the vague patents need to get over-turned.

    Whomever approved it in the first place needs to also be fired!!!
    Reply
  • svdb
    You should not be able to patent software, period.
    Copyright protection yes, like for books, music and film, but patents no.
    Reply
  • svdb
    http://gizmodo.com/5824912/who-is-really-snuffing-out-american-innovation
    Reply
  • JohnnyLucky
    svdb - Interesting editorial opinion that points out a major flaw in the system.
    Reply
  • I dont really like these types of lawsuits, but at least here the company suing is actual creating a similar product. My problem with it is if the patent is just a vague idea, or if its more technical and Spotify copied their setup for streaming.

    I also think Spotify might be sleezy. They say invite only but I went to the site and put in my email and got a reply right away. The quickness and ease of getting the invite makes me wonder if its all just a PR scheme. Make it seem more exclusive so the users feel special when they get that invite.

    Its pretty nice though, decent selection of music. Complements Pandora very nicely. If I know exactly what I want to listen to, I use spotify, if I dont I use Pandora. Either way I am not paying a cent for music now.
    Reply
  • Gadubos
    Very common nowadays! Listen to this if you want to learn about it.

    NPR Podcast.

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/441/when-patents-attack
    Reply