Company Claims To Have Patented The Concept Of An MP3 Player; Sues Everyone

from the aren't-patents-great? dept

A “company” which just so happens to be located in every patent troll’s favorite city for patent lawsuits, Marshall, Texas (and which “shares” an office with its lawyer), is now claiming a patent on the very concept of an MP3 player and is suing Apple, SanDisk and Samsung for not paying up. The details behind the patent are a little sketchy. The company is named Texas MP3 Technologies, but the only place where that company’s name appears in a Google search is on a patent application (not a granted patent) that was published the day before the lawsuits were filed (suggesting the company didn’t waste much time in heading to court). However, the application itself is a continuation of two previous patents, one of which was issued last summer. However, that patent was issued to SigmaTel, in Austin. The earlier patent was issued in 2003, to a company called MPMan, though they all list the same inventors.


Even if you go back to the earliest date, it seems fairly ridiculous that there’s a patent on the overall concept of the MP3 player — and the fact that this patent seems to involve a series of continuation filings, a trick used by folks like Jerome Lemelson to extend the scope of old patents to cover new technologies, doesn’t help this seem any more legitimate. The latest application has added a bunch of claims to the original patent, though, it’s still in application stage and those claims may very well be thrown out. Overall, while we hate to use the term “patent troll,” all of the initial evidence suggests this is a classic case of patent trolling. Some random inventor, who hasn’t brought the product in question to market, is claiming (and continually adjusting) a very broad patent on a basic concept, and then suing all the companies who are actually successfully bringing such a product to market. This is creating incentives for innovation?


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Comments on “Company Claims To Have Patented The Concept Of An MP3 Player; Sues Everyone”

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49 Comments
Ha Ha says:

Ha ha

MP3Man of Korea are credited with making the first dedicated MP3 player, but laptops running AMP predate it and have all the same elements.

Lucent have claims over Microsoft for infringing patents, Lucent are so vague about their claims, they don’t list the patent number in their press release.

Gotta wonder what the patent office is smoking.

what??????? says:

Re: Re:

Sir. file type, you must not own an iPod.. If you did you probably wouldn’t make a statement like that. I’ve had 3, and i’ve never had any problem playing mp3’s on any of them. Perhaps you’re ripping the discs and protecting the tracks? I know that the iTunes won’t load protected tracks into your library…

Rolf Shervey says:

Re: umm, the iPod dosen't play MP3s without hackin

ummm. sorry, that is completely false. Check your facts.

iPod plays all MP3 formats and incarnations (CBR, VBR- any freq, any bitrate up to 320- complete Fraunhofer IIS license and codecs in iPod+iTunes) except MP3PRO. (esoteric)

Fraunhofer owns the patent to MP3 codec, as they invented the code itself. But they don’t make consumer devices. (players)

TheDock22 says:

Silly

I think there should be a patent rule that if you don’t file your infringement lawsuit within 3 years of a product actually being sold in the market then you’ve lost your window of opportunity. It’s silly that the courts would even entertain this lawsuit.

Also, people please read all the comments. There are now 4 comments on the board saying Ipods play MP3’s. We all know this, so if you are not going to have an original thought then keep it to yourself.

The infamous Joe says:

Re: iPOD ... Learn about it.

As off-topic as this is becoming, the ipod easily plays mp3s, in mp3 format. *Itunes* can be set to change mp3’s to apple’s prorietary format, if you’d like (it gets better compression, but can only be played on ipods afaik), but the ipod doesn’t change the format of your music– I use WinAmp for my ipod needs, which certainly doesn’t change my mp3’s into m4a or anything.

If you’d like to test this, plug up your ipod, set your file browser to Show Hidden Files and Folders, go to the now visible Ipod control folder on your ipod, then into any of the F## folders and check out all your mp3’s. In mp3 format.

Which happens to be the easiest way to transfer your music from an ipod to another computer, because although itunes renames all your music filenames to some gibberish (to me) number, it keeps the tags intact. (and will even sort them for you, if you tell it to!)

Now, what is this about me learning about an Ipod? πŸ˜›

chosen says:

Re: iPOD ... Learn about it.

I don’t know what iPod you have played but if you pull ALL your media off your iPod (which I have had to do because I use the music on my iPod as a sort of backup) They are never (let me stress this again) NEVER converted unless they are .wma.

And that conversion is done before the music is even listed in your playlist.

Danno says:

Re: iPOD ... Learn about it.

geneYus, you’re kidding me, right? An iPod plays .mp3s without having to convert them at all. All you have to do to ensure that iTunes doesn’t convert your music into .m4a or .m4p is go into “Preferences” and select “.mp3”, otherwise, as you stated, the default is AAC etc… But come on, geneYus, it’s not rocket science.

safusa says:

History MP3

Here is a link to some history.
http://inventors.about.com/od/mstartinventions/a/MPThree.htm

Quote from page
MP3 Players
In the early 1990s, Frauenhofer developed the first, however, unsuccessful MP3 player. In 1997, developer Tomislav Uzelac of Advanced Multimedia Products invented the AMP MP3 Playback Engine, the first successful MP3 player. Two university students, Justin Frankel and Dmitry Boldyrev ported AMP to Windows and created Winamp. In 1998, Winamp became a free MP3 music player boosting the success of MP3. No licensing fees are required to use an MP3 player.

end quote.

This sure sounds like prior art to me, don’t see how anyone could get one issued to them

Michael says:

This is NOT an example of a broken patent system. This is an example of human nature at it’s worst, to be sure, but the patent system is perfectly capable of defeating such trolls using simple powers it already has (prior art, for example).

Of course, whether they actually use those powers intelligently is another issue. And the patent system *IS* horribly broken πŸ˜‰ But this case isn’t a shining example of why…. it’s just people trying to cheat the system, which is a universal and entirely expected theme even were the system to be nearly perfect.

yeah... says:

seriously?

if your ipod converted all your music to .m4a while syncing with your computer, it’d take a HELL of a lot longer to put music on your ipod.

notice how it would convert .wma to .m4a’s, too, if that’s how it worked…but obviously it doesn’t work that way because it just plain skips the .wma files in your library (or it might ask you to convert them to .m4a? i guess i’ll have to check that)

to Brad (user link) says:

Al Gore & Blah

mismanaged into a civil war?

Thats hilarious… Its been a one-sided civil war for 15 years before we took over. People like you are why I am sometimes ashamed to have served overseas. The lack of respect, the lack of comprehension, and the lack of patriotism.

You wouldn’t have a country if it wasnt for taking chances. Even if you are not a citizen of the United States, your country still took chances to get to what it is today. War is a part of life. Only people who have never seen another country are niave enough to believe in world peace. That is a concept… a dream.

I have wasted enough time responding to your pathicisms. Vote for your democrats who will have us pull out and thousands of lives will be lost… and my best friends life will have been lost for no reason. I refuse to repeat Korea and Vietnam… we pull out, thousands more die. I want my bud’s life to be remember as helping free a people from their leader, and free them from hundreds of years of being ruled.

USA TV shows you only negatives… but the first time you walk down the street and see the faces of those who are thankful for you freeing them and their family… you don’t care how the war started. You just want to make sure you damn well finish it.

KD107 says:

You guys are nuts

Get real guys, this is not some kind of nutty inventor from texas all of a sudden realizing that he invented the MP3 player. This is the original Moon-Hwang patent, the inventors and founders of MPMan. Its a system patent that will be difficult to defeat.

It was purchased by Sigmatel last year and they sold it to this Texas law firm. Sigmatel didn’t get any cash from it, what they got was a royalty exemption for any manufacturer who uses Sigmatel chips. Sandisk is switching to their chips now and will be able to sell royalty-free in the future. If Apple switches to Sigmatel they will have a fully paid license, too.

Disclaimer: I own a small amount of Sigmatel stock. Depending on how this trial proceeds, I may buy more…

Abi says:

l0zErS

So if I patent “Visually representing information for Communication and entertainment purposes” and then sue every Piece of software, Monitor manufacturers, all of the hollywood and every other film studio.

This is insane. Roughly put, Patent rule states “It shouldnt be obvious”.

DUH!
More over I dont see iPod being marketed as “MP3 Player” But as a jukebox.

Fritz Reinders (profile) says:

Re: Prior art :)

Microsoft did just that years ago. They claimed that they invented the Windows GUI concept.

Prior art that was researched by Microsoft prior to suing Apple was Xerox Smalltalk & Amiga Corp. (purchased and brought to market by Commodore Business Machines)

Of course Smalltalk and Amiga OS didn’t matter since it was Microsoft who invented the GUI after Xerox developed the concept in the 70’s and Apple & Commodore had machines in the marketplace πŸ˜›

Same old story … different product

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