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Summary:

Could Apple start receiving a portion of every music download from every online music store, even Microsoft’s new Zune Marketplace? According to patent attorney Michael Starkweather, that could start happening very soon. I believe that, with this patent in hand, Apple will eventually be after every […]

Could Apple start receiving a portion of every music download from every online music store, even Microsoft’s new Zune Marketplace? According to patent attorney Michael Starkweather, that could start happening very soon.

I believe that, with this patent in hand, Apple will eventually be after every phone company, film maker, computer maker and video producer to pay royalties on every download of not just music but also movies and videos.

In a press release issued yesterday, Starkweather claimed that Apple had recently acquired a patent that would covers all types of music and video downloads. Starweather authored in 1996 and was issued to inventor David Contois (Patent # 5,864,868).

If what Starkweather is claiming is true, would Apple use this patent? Could they use this patent as a bargaining chip during their upcoming negotiations with the record and movie industries (as suggested by InMuscatine)?

Apple is definitely not adverse to owning and enforcing patents and obviously thinks this patent has some merit, or they wouldn’t have acquired it. I’m not sure I can come to terms with the idea that Apple would use this patent. Perhaps I’m just being a Apple Fanboy (which I am, no doubt about it), but it seems like a heavy handed tactic to me. It is possible that Apple just felt they could settle the suit and protect themselves from a larger judgment in court. What do you think?

  1. I doubt (hope) that Apple will use it to control every media download. My guess is that they acquired it as insurance and leverage against companies who might try to use patents against them, and as a trump card in negotiations with movie execs.

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  2. oops.. I meant “I doubt (hope) that Apple with NOT use it to control every media download”… I’m an Apple fan, but that much control is scary.

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  3. [...] UPDATE : The Apple Blog links to me (thanks!) and says this : Apple is definitely not adverse to owning and enforcing patents and obviously thinks this patent has some merit, or they wouldn’t have acquired it. I’m not sure I can come to terms with the idea that Apple would use this patent. Perhaps I’m just being a Apple Fanboy (which I am, no doubt about it), but it seems like a heavy handed tactic to me. It is possible that Apple just felt they could settle the suit and protect themselves from a larger judgment in court. What do you think? [...]

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  4. I’m so glad this patent was issued and I hope that they DO use it. All it will do is demonstrate to everyone that patents do not belong in software.

    Maybe if the iPod tanks, and Macs go out of style, Apple can just turn into another SCO and profit through constant litigation. :P

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  5. Kartik Hansen Friday, December 1, 2006

    Yeah, as great as it would be for Apple to rape M$ on every download from their music stores, this really is a ridiculous patent and should not be enforced. It really demonstrates why software patents should be outlawed. Can you imagine if there were a patent on selling goods out of a brick and mortar store?

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  6. Let’s just see what happens first.

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  7. I’m hoping that they bought it to prevent some other scum bag company from buying it and using it.

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  8. Wasn’t there some litigation over this patent previously?

    I’m not sure Apple would go after *every* company that’s involved in this space, however it might help them out should the iPhone be released. The biggest hurdle for the iPhone, in my opinion, is the carriers who already have a download service (Sprint and Verizon). I have Sprint and their service sucks, if I had a Sprint phone that would at least sync with iTunes that would be fine, a Sprint phone that can download from iTunes over the network would be even better. Apple could, in theory, use this patent as leverage on those carriers, as those carriers probably aren’t too keen on releasing a phone that pretty much bypasses their own extortionary (but somehow popular) services.

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  9. No way. It won’t be so easy.

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  10. I’m hoping that they bought it to prevent some other scum bag company from buying it and using it.

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