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Apple pays $10m to end iTunes patent clash suite settled

Apple has agreed to pay $10m to settle the patent infringement challenge the smaller US company launched against it in April 2006.

Back then, claimed Apple's iTunes Music Store, QuickTime streaming software and the iPod all incorporate without permission technology detailed in four patents held by 4,963,995; 5,995,705; 5,057,932 and 5,164,839. The IP covers the transmission of compressed audio and video files over the net.

Apple was clearly aware of the patents: earlier in 2006, before's lawsuit, Apple asked the US court to declare's patents to be invalid and Apple's products not to infringe them.

The Apple case followed's win against Microsoft on similar grounds. It sued the software giant in June 2002. By 2005, however, the two companies had reached an out-of-court settlement that saw Microsoft pay $60m for the right to use the latter's technology.

Apple's got off lightly then, paying a sixth of what MS did - less if you take the past two year's inflation into account - for essentially the same rights: to use's current technology portfolio with the exception of some digital video recorder IP and other patents that are pending. However, promised not to sue Apple in relation to these exceptions and it will pick up both parties' costs.

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