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Amazon.com, others hit by music download patent suit

Company claims e-tailer violated 1999 'try before you buy' patent

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Little-known US company Intouch has claimed Amazon.com, Liquid Audio, Listen.com and a stack of other e-tailers and digital music companies have violated its patented concept of 'try before you buy' music samples. Intouch's patents, granted in 1993 and 1999 - the latter, granted on 5 October 1999, is the most relevant of the two; read it 5,963,916" target="_blank">here - essentially cover the use of an in-store kiosk or a computer to download snippets from a song to allow a potential buyer to decide whether he or she really wants to cough up for the whole track. At this point, we'd like to note that Intouch is infringing an idea of our own, which we came up with years ago - honest, guv - to whit, the preview via a distribution mechanism of music before purchase. We have a name for this concept. We call it radio... Intouch's suit, filed in the San Francisco Federal Court, demands Amazon.com and co. pay up legal fees and damages amounting to all the money Intouch believes it has lost because of their alleged misappropriation of its technology. Amazon, not surprisingly, denies the claim, and we imagine the other named parties will too. Most of them have been offering sample downloads long before Intouch's patent was granted. ®

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