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Apple Sued Over Alleged iTunes Patent Infringement

Apple has to deal with yet another lawsuit targeting its iTunes music store. ZapMedia claims that Apple has stolen the firm’s idea for a digital media distribution service and now asks to be compensated for the damages caused by Apple’s actions. "When someone takes our vision and our intellectual property without a license after several attempts, we have no option but to protect it through every means available to us," ZapMedia said.

Two patents are at the center of the suit. ZapMedia believes that its patent covering a "System and method for distributing media assets to user devices via a portal synchronized by said user devices" as well as a "System and method for distributing media assets to user devices and managing user rights of the media assets" have been infringed. It is interesting to note that the second patent was granted on March 11, 2008, or one day before the suit against Apple was announced.

ZapMedia said that it has met "with many major technology and media companies around the globe, including Apple, describing its vision in great detail". That vision was apparently based on a based on a "unique platform and vision for the enjoyment of digital media assets" that had been developed in the "late 1990s" developed an eventually merged into a system "by which [ZapMedia] could provide hardware, software and content to consumers to allow them to gain control over their digital media assets."

Following those meetings, ZapMedia said Apple unveiled its own system without asking ZapMedia for permission: The first version of iTunes was introduced in October 2001; the iTunes store was unveiled in April 2003. ZapMedia claims that it has made Apple aware of its patents and "their availability for license" between June 2007 and fall of 2007.

Apple has not commented on the claims so far.

In November of 2007, Apple settled a lawsuit launched by Burst.com against iTunes. Burst.com had filed suit in filed suit against Apple in 2004 saying that the iTunes and Quicktime software infringed on its patents. Apple originally said the claim was meritless but ended up paying $10 million to Burst.com to settle out of court.