Microsoft, OD2 and Tiscali face patent action

November 2003


Microsoft MSN Music Club, Tiscali Music Club and Peter Gabriel’s OnDemand Distribution (OD2) are facing a patent infringement lawsuit in a German court over their on-demand music services. New York-based E-Data filed the lawsuit last Tuesday in the German court of Mannheim, seeking an injunction against the German subsidiaries of Microsoft, Tiscali and OD2 to defend its European patent EP0195 098B-1. The patent covers the downloading and recording of information, such as music, films and text from a computer onto a tangible object such as a CD or a sheet of paper. The patent also covers nine other European Union countries (the UK, Austria, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium and Sweden. The original patent was granted in the US in 1985 to Charles Freeny for his “system for reproducing information in material objects at a point of sale location”. Both the MSN Music Club and the Tiscali Music Club use OD2’s music catalogue of over 200,000 recordings. Because E-Data’s US patent has expired, Apple’s popular digital music store, iTunes, is not subject to any action but E-Data’s lawyers have written to Apple to alert them to potential patent problems should iTunes be launched in Europe without proper licensing agreements.


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