The Indianpost

Spotify hit by patent infringement claims

PacketVideo, based in San Diego, has accused Spotify of violating its US and European patents, dating from 1995, on how a music streaming service could work.

Spotify is strongly contesting the lawsuits, which have been filed at courts in California and the Netherlands. PacketVideo said it had already attempted to “amicably resolve its concerns”.

PacketVideo acquired the patents when it bought a Swiss firm, SDC, in 2007. They describe technical elements used by many music streaming services, such as “the capability to interact via the communications network in order to order and transmit selectively chosen music information”.

“PacketVideo is claiming that by distributing music over the internet, Spotify (and by inference any other similar digital music service) has infringed one of the patents that has previously been acquired by PacketVideo,” Spotify said in a statement.

In rejecting PacketVideo’s claims, Spotify said its success was due to its “highly innovative, proprietary hybrid technology that incorporates peer-to-peer technology”.

The lawsuits have emerged as Spotify ramps up its marketing campaign in America. It finally launched in the world’s biggest music market earlier this month after protracted right negotiations with record labels, and signed up 70,000 users in the first week.

After its success in Europe, where it has more than a million paying subscribers, Spotify looks poised to challenge its rival Rhapsody, currently the biggest on demand service in America, with more than 800,000 subscribers.

The fact that Spotify’s high-profile launch has been greeted with lawsuits will focus more attention on the patents system. Critics say patents are granted too readily to unoriginal ideas and claim the system can is abused by “trolls” who buy up patents in order to take legal action rather than develop technology.

PacketVideo’s general counsel Joel Espelien said the firm would “take any necessary action needed to protect its intellectual property and prevent the misuse of its patents”.

The technology industry’s giants have also become embroiled in claims and counter-claims of patent infringement recently, particularly with respect to smartphones. Apple, Nokia, HTC, Google and Samsung are all involved.

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