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Microsoft facing patent lawsuit over Zune Buy From FM feature

Nilay Patel
03.29.10
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Looks like someone at Microsoft should be paying slightly more attention to the mail: an ophthalmologist (yes, that's right) in Illinois named Edward Yavitz is suing Redmond over the Zune's Buy From FM feature, saying he wrote the software giant a letter in 2006 that disclosed his two relevant patents on the tech, suggested how it could be integrated into the Zune, and asked for a deal. Two years and presumably zero replies later, a young Joe Belfiore introduced Buy From FM along with the Zune 3.0 software, which Ed says directly infringes on his patents -- and his lawsuit, filed ten days ago, asks the court to permanently stop sales of the Zune and award him triple damages in cash. Oops. We haven't dived too deeply into the patents themselves, but it looks like Ed's going to have a bit of a fight on his hands here, as the patents seem to describe systems that have preloaded content about music that's then accessed when a data trigger is received over the air, not just storing song information for later purchase over the Internet. We're sure the good doctor's attorneys have some high-powered arguments to the contrary, so we'll withhold judgment and see where this all leads -- we're guessing a quick settlement is in the cards, as fighting Microsoft might end up actually costing more than any percentage of royalties on total sales of the Zune.

P.S.- If you're wondering why Apple hasn't been named for its similar iTunes Tagging feature... well, so are we. We'll see what happens.



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