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Two Companies Take a Bite Out of Apple

Apple is now on the receiving end of a lawsuit for violating patents owned by two small companies. Recently, they have been attacking Mac rumor blog websites, legally forcing them to reveal sources to stories they deem appropriate.

First, the Chicago-based Advanced Audio Devices claims to own a patent for a “music jukebox” that consists of, “a housing, audio input structure on the housing for receiving audio signals, audio output structure on the housing for outputting audio signals, and a data storage structure in the housing for storing audio signals,” the filing said. Pretty vague if you ask me. None the less, the patent was filed in 2001 and granted in 2003.

As for the second company, Hong-Kong based Pat-Rights has claimed that Apple’s DRM technology infringes on one of their patents that “protects publicly distributed software from unauthorized use”.

What do they want? 12% of gross sales from iTunes tracks and iPod handheld units. They also stated that Apple must pay the demanded amount within three weeks or they would file suit for three times that amount.

Joseph J. Zito, the patent lawyer representing Pat-rights stated, “We expect to be successful in licensing negotiations with Apple. They’re a good company that understands intellectual-property rights, and we think they’ll be reasonable. My client was first in touch with Apple during the months of December and January, so Apple has been aware of the issue for a couple of months.”

Who knows what will come of these lawsuits; in our humble opinion, the patent sounds quite void of any specifics. Apple’s recent sales figures have been extremely high with around 4.5 million iPods sold this past Christmas alone. 12% of the hardware sales alone equate to a huge payout. But what do I know, intellectual property laws are so intricate that it takes more than my brain and trusty abacus to decipher.

About Lee Thomas

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