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Court rules against E-Data in 'Freeny' patent case

Corbis off the hook

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The London Patents Court revoked the so-called "Freeny" patent yesterday, after ruling that online digital photo library Corbis did not infringe on the patent, owned by E-Date Corp. Lawyers acting for Corbis said that the rulings will have significant benefits for businesses making their money selling downloaded information.

E-Data Corp. owns European and US patents that describe a "system and method of distributing [commercial] digital content over electronic and wireless networks", named "Freeny" after its inventor. The company argued that Corbis' method of selling image licenses infringed the Freeny patent, but Corbis, which is owned by Bill Gates, counter claimed that the patent is invalid and should be revoked.

The court held that Corbis' image licensing business did not infringe the patent, which it then revoked. Further, it said that the ruling also applies to the very similar case E-Data was pursuing against Getty images.

In earlier actions, E-Data claimed that Apple's iTunes Music Store used technology covered by the patent. Last August (2004), Apple agreed to pay undisclosed royalties to E-Data to license the technology.

On Demand Distribution (OD2), Tiscali and music store HMV also hold licenses for the technology. ®

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