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Burst.com files patent infringement suit against Apple

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By LC Angell

Contributing Editor
Published: Monday, April 17, 2006
News Categories: Apple

Responding to a preemptive lawsuit filed by Apple earlier this year, Burst.com today announced that it has filed counterclaims officially accusing Apple of patent infringement. Burst alleges that Apple’s iTunes, iTunes Music Store, iPod, and QuickTime application infringe on four of Burst’s U.S. Patents (4,963,995; 5,995,705; 5,057,932 and 5,164,839). Burst’s counterclaims come after a suit that Apple filed against the company in January, seeking a declaration that Burst’s patents are invalid and that Apple does not infringe on them. Burst is seeking “a reasonable royalty for Apple’s infringing products and services, and also seeks an injunction against further infringement.”

From Burst.com’s press release:

Burst.com is represented in the action against Apple by San Francisco law firm Hosie McArthur, who also represented Burst in its successful litigation against Microsoft Corporation. In March 2005, Microsoft settled that litigation by paying Burst $60 million for a non-exclusive license to Burst’s patents. Burst has also expanded its legal team in the Apple litigation to include attorneys from the Seattle office of Susman Godfrey, LLP, as well as Houston-based intellectual property firm Heim, Payne & Chorush, LLP. Also representing Burst is Palo Alto-based intellectual property firm Carr & Ferrell, LLP.

Burst.com Chairman & CEO Richard Lang indicated that the company would rather not have to resort to litigation, but is committed to enforcing its patent portfolio, which was developed over an 18-year period. In its April 17 filing, Burst alleges that its technology has been essential to Apple’s success, providing it with a critical audio and video-on-demand media delivery solution. According to Lang, “We have a responsibility to protect our patents and to seek a fair return for the many years and tremendous investment that we have made in developing Burst technology and patents.”

Apple failed to license Burst’s technology when it introduced its iPod and iTunes products in 2002. According to Lang, Apple may have assumed that Burst’s patents would be invalidated in Microsoft’s defense of the then-pending litigation. Instead, Microsoft ultimately licensed Burst’s patents. “While we had hoped to avoid litigation and negotiate a reasonable license fee, it is Apple’s own actions that have forced our hand. We now look to the courts to reaffirm Burst’s rights as innovators and to be paid fairly for our widely acknowledged contributions to the industry.”

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Comments

1

Apple, innovation by stealing. Think Different.

Posted by Bob on April 17, 2006 at 4:41 PM (PDT)

2

yeah bob, thats the sole innovation of apple, bits of the technology used in iTunes and Quicktime. they havent defined portable music for this generation or anything. nor have they provided easy and efficient ways of managing an incredible amount of things from video editing to keeping contacts. im not on apple’s nuts or anything, but you do have to give them credit for what they’ve done. just because there is one small infringement lawsuit doesnt mean you can apply such a broad statement like that.

Posted by andrew f on April 17, 2006 at 7:27 PM (PDT)

3

Apple steals *all* the time.  Only true fanboys can’t admit it.

Ask the folks at Konfabulator about Apple’s thefts.  This is just another in a long, ling line of Apple being just as evil as any other company, only Apple has better marketing and suckers for fans who believe in the hype.

Posted by stark23x on April 17, 2006 at 7:59 PM (PDT)

4

Oh boy, here comes the flaming . . .

I wonder, why do all these supposedly “ripped-off” companies only cry foul when their “products/ideas” start making money?

Posted by Poprox on April 17, 2006 at 8:15 PM (PDT)

5

Poprox, I don’t understand your point.  If several companies are violating your patents of course you will go after the one with the highest revenue. It costs a lot of money to successfully defend your IP in court. The reward for doing so is usually past compensation and future licensing fees. The only pertinent issue is whether the IP is in fact legitimate and being violated.

Disclaimer: I don’t know the details in this case and am reserving judgement.

Posted by aquariumdrinker on April 17, 2006 at 9:20 PM (PDT)

6

“Apple steals *all* the time.  Only true fanboys can’t admit it.”

You must have failed your computing history classes.

Posted by The Raven on April 18, 2006 at 6:33 AM (PDT)

7

Poprox,

You are correct.  The key word is “supposedly”.  Apple bashers always tend to assume that just because someone claims infringement, it must be true.  If you look at Bursts’ patents, you will see just about every technology they claim patent to has been done before.

And, please don’t try to tell me that Burst won their case against MS.  MS settled.  BIG difference.  Remember, MS, as a convicted monopolist, had other issues to deal with in their case that don’t impact Apple.

If this actually gets to court, Burst may just have their “patents” deemed invalid.  This is a huge risk for them.  I think they’re bluffing, hoping Apple will “come to their senses” and settle.

Posted by The Raven on April 18, 2006 at 6:48 AM (PDT)

8

Why is it that these so-called “innovators” never seem to actually put out any product?  And why did it take them 6 years to figure out that their patent was infringed on.  If it was a matter of them thinking of it first, you’d think they’d have realized it alot sooner.  There should be a caveat to these suits that shows that they are actually working on a product and not looking to hit lotto when someone else becomes successful.

Posted by Frank Z on April 18, 2006 at 3:08 PM (PDT)

9

“There should be a caveat to these suits that shows that they are actually working on a product and not looking to hit lotto when someone else becomes successful. “

Countries such as Canada, the UK, Austrailia, and others all have these provisions in place already. In those countires, a patent must be ‘proven’. Meaning, a person/company not only has to think of the idea, but also prototype it and prove it works as you invented it. In the US however you just have to think of the idea and patent it. You don’t even have to be the first to think of it, just the first to file paperwork! There is a individual in the US that has successfully sued(or settled) three major machine tool manufactures because he ‘invented’ the idea of attaching a computer system to an industrial machine tool. Forget the fact he invented it 10 years after the first ones were in production!

Ask RIM all about that. NTP doesn’t make any technology products at all. But look what happened with those two.

As for Apple, yes they rip ideas off all the time. Ask xerox who invented the GUI.

Posted by david on April 18, 2006 at 3:56 PM (PDT)

10

“You must have failed your computing history classes.”

The ones that taught about Apple’s theft from Xerox?

Posted by Nevermore on April 20, 2006 at 3:06 AM (PDT)

11

theft? apple PAID xerox for the priviledge of inspecting their ALTO computer, then apple built on the idea. big difference from a theft buddy

Posted by Alec b on April 20, 2006 at 4:32 PM (PDT)

12

Alec, you must mean corporate espionage.

Posted by Alex on June 15, 2008 at 2:51 AM (PDT)

13

poprox, the reason the companies whose patents are stolen by Apple only speak up when the product is “famuos” is because they have no other way to know their patent was stolen.

Imagine: Apple engineers in the lab, grab an existing, patented technology and apply it to a product.  How is the guy sitting in East Texas supposed to know that is happening?  Apple does this over and over and typically steals the patents of very small companies with the reasoning that the company is too small to legally assert patent rights which is usually true.  Apple then settles for pennies on the dollar.  If you are a fanboy or otherwise buy Apple products, you are an enabler.

Posted by Logical on November 21, 2008 at 9:10 PM (PDT)

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