Apple Faces iPod, iTunes Patent Suits

Two separate companies have filed patent lawsuits against Apple Computer alledging the company has violated their patents related to the iPod digital music device and the iTunes Music Store (iTMS).

Chicago-based Advanced Audio Devices LLC has sued Apple claiming the iPod violates one of its patents for a "music jukebox."

The companyis patent, filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in August of 2000 and granted in July of 2003, describes a music "jukebox" for storing a "music library".

"The music jukebox includes 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.

The Chicago Tribune reported Friday the company tried to settle with Apple in December over its claim. Apple "ignored its attempt to seek a business resolution," the complaint states.

Advanced Audio Devices LLC was founded in 1997 by Peter J. Keller.

In addition, Hong Kong-based Pat-rights has also filed suit against Apple claiming its digital rights management technology violates its patent that was granted in December of 2003.

Pat-rights patent describes a method of "protecting publicly distributed software from unauthorized use" using a sub-program for encryption, a sub-program "for authorizing (the) use of a software product," and a sub-program for authenticating a users computer.

The patent holding company claims Apple has not patented its Fairplay technology and that for that reason it must be using its patent. "This is certainly a patentable technology," Pat-right president Peter Chung said in a prepared statement released in late February. "If iTunes does not patent it, there must be a very good reason for them not to do so- someone else has patented this."

The company is demanding 12% of gross sales from Appleis iTMS and is giving Apple 21 days to accept what Pat-rights is calling "a reasonable license fee." At that point on or around March 21st, Pat-rights intends on filing suit for copyright infringement against Apple.

If it decides to file suit against Apple, the company plans on seeking damages up to three times its original value. The company has yet to determine a resonable value.

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