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Apple sued in server-to-iPod song shift patent clash

Someone else owns downloading, apparently

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Apple has been sued again, once more by a company claiming ownership of technology embedded in the iPod and iTunes Music Store.

The plaintiff is one ZapMedia Services, which alleged in a complaint filed with the US District Court for Eastern Texas that the Apple products infringe patents it holds for distributing digital content over the internet, specifically routing it from servers to any number of playback devices.

Two patents form the basis of ZapMedia's lawsuit. Both were applied for back in 1999. One was granted in March 2006, but the other only achieved the US Patent and Trademark Office's thumbs-up this week. Hence the action filed yesterday.

ZapMedia claims it approached Apple with a view to licensing its intellectual property, but the Mac maker was having none of it.

Two years ago, in April 2006, Apple was sued by Burst.com for infringing four patents relating to downloading music and video content over the net. By November 2007, the two opponents had shaken hands on a licensing deal that cost Apple $10m - a sixth of what Microsoft coughed up to license the same technology after it too was sued by Burst.com.

Apple made $1.58bn on sales totalling $9.61bn in the three months to 31 December 2007, so this kid of payment is really just small change for the Mac maker.

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