Apple coughs up for iTunes Music Store patent

Licenses Freeny


Apple has agreed to pay undisclosed royalties to a company that challenged the core concept behind the iTunes Music Store.

E-Date Corp. owns European and US patents that describe a "system and method of distributing [commercial] digital content over electronic and wireless networks". The company claimed that ITMS was just such a system, and as such required Apple to license its intellectual property.

And that's what the iPod maker has just done, gaining the right to use E-Data's patent throughout the world in exchange for not only future royalties but a payment to cover past usage.

Apple hasn't been E-Data's only target. In October 2003, the company instigated legal action against UK-based digital music distributor, On Demand Distribution (OD2), a number of the company's customers and its software supplier, Microsoft. OD2 and co. settled with E-Data last February.

The company is also pursuing litigation with online digital photography libraries Corbis and Getty Images.

E-Data's key IP is dubbed the 'Freeny Patent' after its inventor, Charles Freeny. In the US it is recorded as patent number 4,528,643, in Europe as EP 0 195 098 B-1. Filed in the mid-1980s, the invention covers the authorised, commercial downloading of content from to a "material object" - essentially a PC, Mac, MP3 player, optical disc, etc.

Apple, meanwhile, is also being sued by a British technology firm, BTG, which claims the company's Software Update system infringes a patent it holds for "web-enabled software update technologies". BTG is pursuing Microsoft on the same grounds. ®

Related stories

E-Data goes after Microsoft music service
BTG sues Apple and MS over software downloads
IBM promises no patent assault on Linux
Patent fears halt Munich Linux migration
Cisco drops Huawei lawsuit
Sony sued in digicam patent clash
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MS defeated in ergo keyboard patent appeal


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