BlackBerry hit with patent over… music

Norwegian Troll

Research In Motion’s beleaguered BlackBerrys are known as many things but are generally not thought of as entertainment devices.

That hasn’t stopped a shell company from suing RIM for infringing a patent for a music playlist.

In a complaint filed in Wisconsin, Seattle-based Hunter Point Ventures claims that RIM’s handsets violate its “method for musical playlist selection in a portable audio device.”

The “invention” in question is US Patent 7667123. Executives at a company called Interactive Objects applied for the patent in 2001, and have since transferred it to the shell company. Here is a picture from the patent:

Playlists allow users to create a personal list of songs, and are common features of smart phones and earlier music players like the iPod. Last year, a different shell company used another playlist patent to sue Apple and Amazon.

In recent years, there have been a rise in shell companies that don’t make anything but sue companies that do, a practice known as trolling. Critics say the trolls are gaming the patent system and amount to a drain on the economy.

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