It Takes a Texas Jury to Patent a Concept; Apple loses to Patent Troll
The favorite game of patent trolls is to take a concept, like downloadable playlists, and proclaim a patent for the concept rather than for a particular design that implements the concept. Hint: you shouldn’t really patent a concept, and courts should never accept patents of concepts. It’s both legally and ethically wrong. It takes a Texas jury where they have school boards who want to teach intelligent design in science classes to think you can patent concepts rather than specific designs.
Apple has been ordered to shell out $8 million for infringing on playlist patents owned by a company called Personal Audio LLC despite Apple’s insistence that the patents were invalid. According to Bloomberg, the jury in the Eastern district of Texas made its decision late Friday, upholding the validity of the patents and slapping Apple with penalties.
Personal Audio is a Texas-based patent holding company that makes its money from licensing its intellectual property to companies like Apple. In 2009, the firm filed suit against Apple, Sirius XM Radio, Archos, and Coby Electronics for violating two of its patents that, as pointed out by FOSS Patents, share a common specification from October of 1996. The patents generally cover downloadable playlists on a device, allowing the user to skip around using the device’s controls.
Apple’s original iPod first made its public debut in the fall of 2001 and the playlists were “downloaded” from a user’s computer. According to Personal Audio’s original complaint, Apple has been violating the patents ever since with the introduction of every new iPod or iPhone, and the patent firm originally wanted $84 million in damages.