New Music Service Spotify Gets Hit with Patent Infringement Claim
Chances are you’ve heard something about Spotify, the newest music streaming service to hit the United States. Less than a month ago the Swedish-based company debuted its service stateside. However, you may not have heard that they are already getting sued for patent infringement.
If you haven’t heard of Spotify already, you can see what it is all about in this YouTube video. There are few things I like more than having things explained to me through animation, so enjoy. Spotify is a music streaming service that allows users to access over 15 million tracks for free. Users can skip the intermittent advertisements and upgrade to an “Unlimited” package for $4.99 a month or take it one step further and access the service in an offline mode through the “Premium” package for $9.99 a month. The company creates revenue through its subscriber programs, advertisements, and downloads, but Spotify pays royalties to the song’s rights holders each time a track is played. Spotify was created in Sweden in 2008, and on July 14 Spotify announced that it was coming to the US. Currently, Americans can access the service by invite only via the company’s website.
On July 27, PacketVideo, a company that produces software for wireless media, filed a patent infringement claim in US District Court for the Southern District of California. PacketVideo claims that Spotify is using its patented technology to allow music to be accessed through Spotify’s cloud-based service. PacketVideo’s general counsel said that the company is ready for a fight and will “take any necessary action needed to protect its intellectual property and prevent the misuse of its patents.”
PacketVideo’s patent in question, 5,636,276, is for a “device for the distribution of music information in digital form.” PacketVideo didn’t develop the technology but acquired the patent when it took over SDC, a Swiss firm, back in 2007. In the claim against Spotify, PacketVideo is requesting a permanent injunction against Spotify’s music streaming service.
The tech world is up in arms about this lawsuit. Tech blogs, like Techdirt, describe the patent to be nothing more than a generic idea of streaming music. Others describe it as another example of a US company stifling innovation and silencing competition. Many believe the lawsuit is a testament to just how harmful the US patent system has become in recent years.
Personally, I think Spotify is the greatest thing those Swedes have gifted us with since Alexander Skarsgard. Spotify is quickly shaping up to be iTunes biggest competitor, though iTunes is a product that doesn’t regularly see much rivalry. Spotify is a ground-breaking company that has created a stellar service. Companies like Spotify offer better experiences for their users and could potentially lead to the creation of more jobs in the US. It would be a shame to see them go because of an overly broad patent claim.
My advice: If you haven’t tried Spotify yet, request an invite through their website before it’s too late.