August 4, 2004 11:49 AM PDT

Apple settles with patent holder on iTunes

Apple Computer has become the latest in a line of companies licensing patents from the relatively obscure E-Data, a company that claims to hold property rights on the process of selling music online.

E-Data said Wednesday that it had reached a European agreement with Apple that gave the company worldwide rights for its iTunes Music Store. It has now launched a new round of patent infringement suits against 14 companies including and The New York Times.

Previously, E-Data sued and settled with Microsoft, as well as a handful of other companies, largely under European patent rules.

"This settlement with Apple marks another important milestone, as we aggressively pursue companies that are infringing upon our intellectual property," said E-Data Chairman Bert Brodsky. "We have identified additional companies that are infringing upon our intellectual property, both in the U.S. and abroad, and will seek the necessary legal actions to ensure that our rights are enforced worldwide."

E-Data has been one of the most successful of a generation of companies that has emerged claiming patent rights to what many view as basic Internet business or technology procedures, such as e-commerce, streaming media and Web browser elements.

The company's patents, granted in 1985, cover the transmission of information to a remote point-of-sale location, where the information is then transferred to a material object. The company says that includes the sale of digital music online which can then be burned to a CD or transferred to a hard drive device like an iPod.

E-Data has established the scope of its patents through years of litigation, and has recently gained momentum through agreements with Microsoft, HMV, the newly Loudeye-owned On-Demand Distribution in Europe, and others. None of the financial terms of the agreements, including this week's Apple settlement, have been made public.

An Apple representative had no immediate comment on the settlement.

E-Data said its new round of patent-infringement suits were filed in a Texas federal court and targeted Cinemark USA, the Regal Entertainment Group, Thomson, International Data Group, Amazon,, Ticketmaster, Marcus Theaters, Fandango, Franklin Electronic Publishers, The New York Times, Hallmark Cards, American Greetings and NewsBank.


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This is garbage
So they have a patent on being able to transmit or download anything to a remote device. Give me a break.

Ever heard of cable TV. They have been transmitting content to remote devices and charging people for it long before 1985.

How about satellite and network TV? They have been tranmitting and selling content to their affiliates forever.

This is what is wrong with the current patent systems. Rather than actually create and/or build anything of value, the current thinking is just randomly come up with possible ideas and file a patent on them. Sooner or later somebody will build something that fits this ideas, and then you sue them. This is bad for all of us and these leeches should be curtailed.

And another interesting fact is that E-data's "patent" was granted in 1985. Since the term of a patent is 20 years, their rights disappear next year. So I guess their business model is sue 'em while we can. Scumbags!
Posted by dhammond (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
scumbags indeed!
more than the content of a patent, it seems to be the skill of the patent lawyer who drafts it that determines it's worth! I feel patents should also provide a list of applications envisioned.
If someone comes up with something that is not on the list, it should not be considered an infrigement. That way, a cleverly written patent won't (like E-Data's one) won't create such problems.
Posted by (5 comments )
Link Flag
It is a stupid, horrible law.
And this is just the beginning. A case in point
is M$ who have amassed 3000+ of such applications
with a good number dwelling on several conceivable
uses of XML technology. Unless something changes
in patent law, the world is in for a sickening
time in the near future. Patents are bad enough
but the fact that all you need to apply for
a patent is just an idea (no tangible development
work for proof of concept is required), makes it
even worse. You may have read about this:
<a class="jive-link-external" href=",39020345,39158406,00.htm" target="_newWindow">,39020345,39158406,00.htm</a>
Posted by (23 comments )
Link Flag
This is bull_shit
You've got to be joking me. This is absofuckinglutley mad. Look at the huge array of companies and the different range of products that they all sell, all being sued by one company. Either the company is poor as hell or is just plain stupid and greedy. My god. Come on. You dont sue people for a technology EVERYBODY uses now. Just like the other poster on here said regarding cable tv and satellite. Its not like the person who thought up those ideas is sueing them now. Come on!
Posted by KDoggMDF (25 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Shouldn't this patent be expiring soon?
According to the USPTO website <a href=",528,643.WKU.&OS=PN/4,528,643&RS=PN/4,528,643">this patent (4,528,643)</a> was granted July 9, 1985. If a patent expires after 20 years this one should be up next year.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
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