E-Data Settles Patent Violation With Apple Over iTunes [UPDATED]

E-Data Corporation announced a patent-violation settlement with Apple today. The European patent, covers a "specific system and method of distributing digital content over electronic and wireless networks," according to E-Data, a patent holding firm whose business model is centered around licensing its patent portfolios.

The patent, EP 0 195 098 B-1, expired in January of 2003 in the US, but is still active in Europe. According to E-Datais press release, Appleis iTunes software ran afoul of the patent, dubbed "The Freeny patent," in that it covers concepts such as burning music to a CD or other tangible objects, or downloading music and transferring it to the same kinds of objects.

"The Freeny patent covers the downloading and recording of information, such as music, from a computer onto a tangible object, such as CDs, DVDs and MP3 players," says the companyis press release. "The iTunes platform enables Apple Computer customers to download individual music tracks for a fee using the companyis iTunes Music Store."

The iTunes Music Store (iTMS) was launched in the US in April of 2003, three months after the patent expired in US. Apple launched the European version of the iTMS in June of this year, where the patent is still valid. iTunes itself, also mentioned in the press release, was first released in January of 2001.

E-Data declined to offer any clarifications concerning the settlement and the violations Apple of which Apple had been accused.

Ongoing litigation

With these victories under its belt, E-Data is using its settlement with Apple to help launch litigation against other companies.

"This settlement with Apple marks another important milestone, as we aggressively pursue companies that are infringing upon our intellectual property," E-Data chairman Bert Brodsky said in a statement. "This license agreement, combined with recent settlements with Microsoft, Tiscali, HMV, On Demand Distribution, and Satellite Newspapers, further reinforces the validity of our patents. Given our continued success, we have identified additional companies that are infringing upon our intellectual property, both in the US and abroad, and will seek the necessary legal actions to ensure that our rights are enforced worldwide."

In a separate announcement today, E-Data listed 14 other companies it was suing. Those companies are: Cinemark USA, Inc.; Regal Entertainment Group; the Thomson Corporation; International Data Group, Inc.; Amazon.com, Inc.; Movietickets.com, Inc.; Ticketmaster, L.L.C., Marcus Theaters Corporation, Fandango, Inc., Franklin Electronic Publishers, Inc., The New York Times Company; Hallmark Cards, Inc.; American Greetings Corporation; and NewsBank, Inc.

E-Data did not reveal terms of its settlement with Apple. Apple spokespersons were not available for comment at press time.

[Update: E-Data employees declined to comment for the article, citing confidentiality agreements with Apple. Apple has also not responded to requests for comment. A spokesperson for E-Datais PR firm did note that E-Datais patent had expired in US, but was still active in Europe. The article has been updated accordingly. - Editor]