Apple sued over iTunes music distribution practices

Atlanta-based ZapMedia says Apple is infringing on technology to distribute music over the Internet covered in two of its patents.

Specifically, ZapMedia holds patents on sending music from a server to multiple players. The company applied for the patents in 2000, however the first one wasn't granted until March 2006, and the other on Tuesday.

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The first patent (7,020,704) involves "a system and method for distributing digital media assets to a plurality of users." The second (7,343,414) also deals with the same method, and seems to expand upon the previous patent.

The company had attempted to strike an agreement with Apple, but talks apparently broke down after several attempts to come to an agreement between June 2006 and last fall, triggering the suit.

ZapMedia is asking for a royalty cut on both sales of iPods as well as iTunes music sales. Apple does not comment on pending litigation. ZapMedia's Robert Frohwein, however, said the move was necessary.

"We have no option but to protect [our technology] through every means available to us," Frohwein remarked.

While Apple is the target of this particular lawsuit, from a read of the patent it appears any music service currently available could be at risk from a lawsuit with ZapMedia. It was not immediately clear if the company planned to press litigation against other providers.

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