Will Apple use the “Media Download” Patent?

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?

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