Apple, AT&T Sued over... Shazam App Existing?

We typically don't follow every little Apple or AT&T lawsuit that closely because, frankly, there are too many of them and the frivolity of some just harshens our collective mellow. Case in point, according to Apple Insider:

Apple, AT&T and several others have been named in a new patent infringement lawsuit, presumably for their connection to Shazam, a maker of music identification software distributed under the same name for the iPhone and several other mobile devices.

The suit was brought by Tune Hunter, Inc. Assuming their case has merit, why sue Apple and AT&T instead of focusing on the actual Shazam app in question? Tune Hunter claims it's because the iPhone duo are contributing to the infringement. For our part, we couldn't help but notice Apple especially is contributing towards having tons of money.

They're also suing Samsung, Napster, Motorola, Gracenote, LG Electronics, Pantech Wireless, and Verizon.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple, AT&T Sued over... Shazam App Existing?


This is escalating to an everyone vs. Everyone lawsuit. Southpark fans will appreciate the reference :)

The US legal system needs to be more punishing against false suits...if you sue somebody and lose, you pay double what you asked for...I bet that'd stop most of these stupid legal wranglings.

@ Vox - that would not work at all because people with legitimate complaints who didn't have a lot of money would be scared away from prosecuting offending parties. I agree most consumer lawsuits like this are ridiculous but there are some that have protected consumers in important ways.

It's a game for our times.
We'll see more of this finger pointing & lifting cash as the global community comes together.
Not a game that I want to play. As a business owner, I look for staying on the defensive.

I agree, if we had looser pays there would be fewer BS lawsuits. If you loose you pay court costs period!! If the suit is lagit then the deep pockets pay the judgement, if not the person bringing the suit just pays court costs. This would not scare off the little guy.

Since software patents were expressly forbidden (patents on algorithms) it would be nice if the supreme court would just seize on one of these cases to declare them ALL invalid and be done with all this nonsense once and for all.
Let God and the Market sort it out.

I'll second your Loser Pays proposal and raise you a False or Illegal Takedown Notice = $100,000 fine, with the Defendant getting 75%. The fine should goe up by 50% for each subsequent offense.

Haha representing everyone... Gerald Broflovski. And representing everyone.... Gerald Broflovski. Well Tom this is shaping up to be a great case for everyone.

Why don't they sue the consumer, the electric companies throughout the US (provided the service to charge the phone), the government for getting a piece of the pie too!! This is the short list. If these numnuts win, its all over for the integrity of our judicial system. In the end, the greedy lawyers win out and I guess that's why these types of laws we have allow this crap to occur. my 2 cents...

This reminds me of the lawsuits that Gracenote brought against companies like MusicMatch in the past. Glad to see them getting a taste of their own medicine.

Apple and AT&T are not responsible for any infringement, and any judge with one day of experience on the bench will rule in favor of them both. Gimme a f**king break. :roll:

Unfortunately, this may not be a quick slam-dunk for Apple. The article suggests that Apple is accused, not of infringing themselves, but of contributory infringement. Under US law, you can be found guilty of contributory patent infringement simply for selling (actually, just for OFFERING to sell) or making available an infringing device, provided you a) knew or reasonably should have known the device was infringing when you sold it, and b) you materially contributed to the infringing product or action.
Since by the App Store's very nature Shazam could not exist without Apple's direct involvement and approval, Apple is vulnerable to b). The case then reduces to how much Apple knew, and when. "reasonably should have known" is one of those phrases the keeps entire platoons of lawyers employed, but, if Tune Hunter specifically notified Apple or AT&T of this patent beforehand, and was ignored, Apple/AT&T may just have to pay Tune Hunter off to avoid a bad precedent.
All this is not to say I am in favor of this suit -- I agree with Icebike both about software patents and DMCA takedown abuse, and I would like to see some drastic changes in the patent system. However, as long as that system remains the same, Apple and AT&T may have a fight on their hands. Who knows? If two big companies actually end up burned, maybe that spur some actual change to the system.

As someone who has spent the last couple of years going to school for law I can tell you exactly what this is about. You can sue Apple and AT&T for more money than you can sue Shazam. Plain and simple. Don't need a law degree to figure that one out.

hah, i can remember shazam from 10 years ago, when you had to dial them on 2580 and it cost ya £1.50 a go... We tried it in the office i was working in at the time, my forst job when i left school, tried to track on some obscure music, and it got every one, even a track from a star wars soundtrack cd.
It was fricking amazing for getting you the name of the song you liked. was worth every penny! I dunno who tune hunter is, but unless they can say they were providing me with a service as good, 10 years ago, im gonna guess this a baseless lawsuit.