Apple Controls Essential iTunes Patent?

In September, reports emerged that Apple and Contois Music Technology reached a settlement over an iTunes interface lawsuit based on this patent filed in 1996.

Contois sought damages and an injunction against Apple for the infringement of the existing patent. The last word of the suit came in September, when after a 15-hour negotiating session, a settlement was reached but remained confidential:

"We're glad to get back to teaching music and selling musical instruments," said Dan Contois, a brother of David Contois, who works in the 35-year-old family-owned business. "The terms are confidential. We can't discuss them."

Interestingly, the patent lawyer involved in the case issued a press release today commenting about the implications of this patent and suggests that Apple has control of it.

The patent covers the system and methods for allowing users download media from a remote database and playing on a a local device -- essentially the methods for purchasing songs online. According to Starkweather:

"I believe that, with this patent in hand, Apple will eventually be after every phone company, film maker, computer maker and video producer to pay royalties on every download of not just music but also movies and videos.

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