Just two weeks since its U.S. debut, the popular European music service, Spotify, has already gotten a big American "welcome" complete with bear hugs and a patent lawsuit. The company has just been sued by multimedia software company PacketVideo for patent infringement. And oddly, the patent is essentially for music streaming, or some verbiage that resembles that.
The patent in dispute is fairly broad, encompassing any "device for the distribution of music information in digital form." Filed back in 1995, the patent was later purchased by PacketVideo with the obvious intent of collecting licensing fees from it. Below is the main description of the items covered by the patent:
“a central memory device which is connected to a communications network and has a databank of digitized music information and, a terminal which is connected to the central memory device via the communications network, the central memory device being equipped with a retrieval module and the said modules having the capability to interact via the communications network in order to order and transmit selectively chosen music information, wherein the selectively chosen music information is organized with a defined format for transmission in a digital music information object, the format including a core and a number of additional layers, the core including at least one object identification code, object structure information, a consumer code and an encryption table and the one or more additional layers including the actual music information, wherein the central memory device has an encryption module for encryption of the music information object before transmission using the encryption table, and wherein the terminal has a decryption module for decryption of the music information object before its reproduction using the encryption table, an interpretation module for interpretation and reproduction conditioning of the music information object as well as an authorization device having identification information for identification of the terminal and of the consumer which is retrievable by the interpretation module and by the decryption module for authorization checking.”
It seems like this patent would apply to a number of other music streaming services as well, including MOG, Rdio, Pandora, and Rhapsody, to name a few. Whether those music service are already paying a licensing fee to PacketVideo is unclear. And if not, this could mark just the first round of patent trolling for the company. Spotify is currently one of the services making the most headlines for sure, having garnered possibly 70,000 paid subscribers in its first week. If you haven't tried it yet, you can get an invitation from our SlashGear Spotify page.