Failed Company, Now Patent Troll, Sues Apple Over Transferrable Playlists For A Third Time

from the personal-troll dept

Remember the company Personal Audio? This is the complete flop of a company that claimed it tried to develop a personal audio player that never went anywhere, and now is nothing but a pure patent troll. It opened an empty office in East Texas, and actually succeeded in winning $8 million from Apple this summer for its patent (6,199,076) on an “Audio program player including a dynamic program selection controller.” It had also sued for a second patent (7,509,178) on an “Audio program distribution and playback system,” but had failed to convince the judge.

After winning the lawsuit (and both parties are appealing parts of the ruling), Personal Audio sued a second time, arguing that other Apple products also infringed the first (‘076) patent. That lawsuit was put on hold until the appeals on the first lawsuit were dealt with. But with the release of iOS5, Personal Audio has wasted no time in suing Apple once again, bringing the ‘178 patent back into the ball game. As the Patent Examiner blog explains:

The difference in the new case? It?s as simple as a USB cable. The patent in question is for an ?audio program distribution and playback system? that downloads playlists. At the time, the Apple products named in the first suit had to be connected to a computer to sync playlists using iTunes, and Judge Ron Clark of the Eastern District of Texas decided Apple did not infringe the patent despite the jury having concluded otherwise.

?The USB cable did not meet [the judge’s] definition of ?download,?? said Personal Audio lawyer Ronald J. Schutz of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi. ?Apple argued that the USB cord turned the iPod into a dumb hard drive.?

But with the release of Apple?s new iOS 5 software, iPhones, iPods and iPads can sync playlists from iTunes over a WiFi connection instead of using a USB cable.

Because, you know, without Personal Audio around, I’m sure Apple would have never figured out a way to sync playlists over WiFi.

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Companies: apple, personal audio

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Comments on “Failed Company, Now Patent Troll, Sues Apple Over Transferrable Playlists For A Third Time”

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12 Comments
bob (profile) says:

Let's blame the victim...

Now I don’t know anything about these patents and their viability– lord knows the USPTO will let anything through these days– but the headline seems to imply that they’re a troll just because they failed. If the patents are valid and they failed because someone just infringed on their innovation, well, it seems perfectly fair to sue after failing.

You might as well call the 99% a bunch of money trolls. You’re such an astroturfer for the billionaire .01% who want to use their economic clout to take whatever they want without sharing.

Killercool (profile) says:

Re: Let's blame the victim...

Let’s go ever this again. When you fail in the marketplace, and decide to sue the one with enough money to get you paid, but a bad enough reputation that you might win, what are you? Yup. You’re a troll.

My PS3 syncs playlists. My phone syncs playlists. They ain’t suing Samsung or Sony.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t feel much sympathy for apple seeing as they’re trying to block Samsung from putting their competing products for being rectangular shaped among other stupid things. Apple deserves to be ordered to stop selling their iphones/pads/etc for a month for some stupid patent like that to teach them a lesson about patent trolling their competitors instead of competing with them.

illuminaut (profile) says:

I wonder when the big corporations begin to understand that paying up is going to cost them more in the long term than fighting every single one of these frivolous charges. Where do they think these payments go? That’s right, into bankrolling the next law suits and gobbling up some more questionable patents to use in future attacks.

Companies that actually do invent would be better off in the long term if they’d just band together and lobby for substantial changes to patent law. The nuclear stand-off tactic of “defensive” patents only somewhat works if all parties have something to lose.

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