Developer Thinks Different And Sues Over iTunes

    June 21, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

David Contois claims that Apple Computer has infringed on his six-year old design patent.

In a ten-page lawsuit filed in Vermont District Court, Contois Music Technology asked the court to top Apple from distributing its iTunes software, allow a trial by jury, and permit the company to seek unspecified damages from Apple, according to AppleInsider.

The June 13th filing says Apple copied and willfully infringed on the Contois patent entitled “Computer Control System and User Interface for Media Playing Devices.” It specifies 19 interface areas where Apple has allegedly committed the infringement.

Those areas include the ability to search and sort music by artist, album, or genre, and to transfer music from a computer to a portable media player.

Lawyers for Mr. Contois claim he exhibited the interface in 1995 at COMDEX and in 1996 at the NAMM music industry trade show. They further contend that Apple employees were in attendance at both shows and viewed the software.

Apple’s iTunes has been the point of presence for its iTunes Music Store on computers in 19 countries. The Cupertino-based tech company has sold 450 million songs to its users that way.

The popularity of iTunes and its well-known music-playing counterpart, the iPod, has helped Steve Jobs lead Apple to profitability. Although hardware sales of the iPod have been reported to be flat, users continue to drive revenue to Apple via their iTunes music purchases.

According to, Apple is already embroiled in five other iTunes-related lawsuits, including one with The Beatles’ Apple Corp., another in which a Hong Kong firm says it owns parts of Apple’s FairPlay, a third in which a Chicago company claims it patented the technology behind the iPod and one in France, where a consumer group says that Apple’s FairPlay violates the European Union’s competition law.

A fifth suit similar to the French case has been filed in California.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.