iPod Playlist Patent Lawsuit

Apple has lost a patent infringement lawsuit in federal court, and has been ordered to pay $8 million in damages to Personal Audio for infringement of its patents on iPod playlist technology. In particular, Personal Audio argued that Apple had violated their US patent 7,509,178 regarding “Audio Program Distribution and Playback System” and US patent 6,199,076 which deals with the “Audio Program Player Including a Dynamic Program Selection Controller”. Personal Audio had originally demanded $84 million in damages from Apple, and it’s unlikely that Apple will appeal the decision since the $8 million fee will not have much impact on the company’s financials.

However, the company may have other reasons to file an appeal given the similarities between this case and some other pending cases like the one between Lodsys and iOS developers. In that case, Lodsys is claiming that iOS developers infringed on patents for in-app purchasing technology. Apple is intervening on behalf of the developers by asserting that they are covered by a previous licensing agreement between Apple and Lodsys.

Lodsys, like Personal Audio, is a company that is set up to generate income from patent licenses. Another similarity between the two cases is that both were filed in the East Texas district court, which has developed a reputation for favoring “patent trolls.” In the Personal Audio case, the Eastern Texas District court judge found that Apple had infringed on two generic patents related to downloadable playlists on both the iPod and the iPhone.

Specifically, one of these patents was for the dynamic selection capability of an audio player, while another was for the playback system in an audio program. Apple had contended that the patents were invalid and that it wasn’t infringing on either one. Apple sold over $8 billion in iPods alone last year, which accounted for 13% of total sales.