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Why Have So Many Companies Settled Over Ridiculous Patent For 'Online Music Distribution'?

from the cheaper-to-settle dept

A company going by the name Sharing Sound LLC, which of course does not appear to do anything, got hold of some exceptionally broad and absolutely ridiculous patents on "distributing musical products by a website over the internet" (6,247,130 and 6,233,682). Go ahead and read the claims on both of those, and realize they were filed in 2000, well after online sales of digital goods was available (I should know, I worked for a company focused on selling software online through nearly identical means described in the patents -- in 1998).

Earlier this year, however, Sharing Sound sued a whole bunch of companies over these patents. Included was Apple, Microsoft, Napster, Rhapsody, BDE (Kazaa), Sony, Sony/Ericsson, Amazon, Netflix, Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble and Gamestop. Late last week, the news came out that Apple had settled and paid up. Along with that, people noted that most of the other companies had already settled.

I defy anyone to explain how this patent is a valid patent. The folks at M-CAM broke down a whole bunch of prior art when the lawsuits were first filed. Anyone who was anywhere near the online web store world for digital content would look through the (very, very, very simple) claims in the patent and just laugh. There's no "invention" there at all. It's a joke.

So why did so many companies settle? The easy guess is that the settlement terms were simply less than going through with the lawsuit. Lawsuits are expensive, even over totally bogus patents. So it's often just easier and cheaper to pay up. Of course, now that gives Sharing Sound more ammo to say "look at all these big companies who settled" when they continue to go after lots of other companies. This is a perfect example of how bad patents still "win" lawsuits.

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    cc (profile), 4 Oct 2010 @ 11:40am

    Re: Re:

    Bogus patents would have been thrown out.

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