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Apple ordered to pay $8M in damages over iPod playlist patent suit


A federal jury has decided against Apple in a patent infringement suit accusing Apple of violating two patents related to downloadable playlists for iPods.

Bloomberg reported on Friday that, according to the lawyer for plaintiff Personal Audio, a jury found that patents were indeed infringed on and upheld their validity. Sirius XM Radio, Coby Electronics and Archos were also included in the original suit, but they had settled out of court last year.

Personal Audio, a patent licensing company, sued Apple in 2009 asking for $84 million in damages. Apple was accused of violating U.S. patents 6,199,076 "Audio Program Player Including a Dynamic Program Selection Controller" and 7,509,178 "Audio Program Distribution and Playback System."

The inventions describe an audio player that "can receive navigable playlists and can skip forward or backward through the downloaded list," report author Susan Decker wrote. Apple asserted that the patents were invalid, while also claiming that it wasn't using the inventions.

Patent expert Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents noted that Apple has "little incentive to appeal this decision," as the $8 million damages award is relatively insubstantial for the company, which has more than $60 billion in cash reserves. However, Apple could announce an intent to file an appeal in hopes of negotiating a discounted settlement with the company.

Mueller also compared the case to an ongoing case between iOS developers and Lodsys. The company filed suit in May, alleging that iOS developers have violated patents related to in-app purchasing. Apple has filed a motion to intervene in the case and maintains that the developers are covered under an licensing agreement it signed with Lodsys.

Like Personal Audio, Lodsys is a non-practicing entity that generates income from patent licenses. Both companies also chose to file their cases in East Texas, a district known for favoring so-called "patent trolls."

Apple recently paid $2 billion for a collection of 4G wireless networking patents from Canadian telecommunications company Nortel in hopes of gaining a competitive advantage in the smartphone race. As patent suits have ramped up in recent years, Apple has become the world's most-suedtechnology company and has expanded its defense team to protect itself.