by Mike Masnick
Wed, May 27th 2009 7:01am
A few folks have sent in variations on the news that Apple and AT&T have been sued for patent infringement over the fact that the music recognition service Shazam can be used on the iPhone. The patent in question covers a music recognition system that certainly does sound like Shazam's. While it's lame that the patent holder is going after third parties like Apple and AT&T, this lawsuit really highlights how silly the patent system is. Shazam has been around for ages. I remember meeting up with some folks from Shazam many, many years ago, soon after they had started. They had a music recognition system at the time, but it didn't work all that great, and there was no real market for it. So they spent many years continually tinkering with and improving the system, and adapting to the market as it changed -- and finally had a hit when the iPhone app store came out. That is the process of innovation. The idea was a useful starting point, but it was meaningless until the idea could be implemented in a way that the market wanted. And, yet, some guy who had the same idea, but didn't go through the trials and tribulations of actually making it work for the market, suddenly gets to demand tons of money for it? That's an economic and societal waste.
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