The NYT reports today that Google, Apple, and Napster (the current) Napster are being sued for patent infringement by Intertainer, which (according to the story) holds “United States Patent No. 6,925,469, which was issued in 2005 and is intended to cover the management and distribution of digital media from various suppliers.
The first independent claim of that patent reads:
A system for managing and marketing digital media content supplied by a plurality of media content suppliers to a plurality of consumers, the system comprising:
- a processor operable to combine media assets supplied by the media content suppliers and metadata to create a media content offering for use by the consumers said processor having a private service interface adapted to permit the media content suppliers to directly access the system to administer the media content offering;
- a database for storing the media content offering;
- a file repository for storing media content associated with the media content offering; and
- a server adapted to distribute media content stored in said file repository.
As in any patent case, the only way really to figure out what’s likely to happen is to study the claims, study the accused devices, and study the prior art. Still, this case (and this patent) sounds suspiciously like an earlier series of lawsuits by a company that claimed that its patents covered to right to digital downloads of motion pictures. The company was Sightsound (founded right here in my little town, Mt. Lebanon, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh), and earlier in the decade it sued CDNow and N2K (round one) and Napster (round two).
I don’t have time to parse the claims of the Sightsound patents, but anyone who wants to compare the Intertainer claims to the Sightsound claims can find the latter by searching Google Patents for inventor: “Arthur Hair.”