A South African inventor has claimed that Apple’s iTunes and Sony’s PlayStation Network infringe a patent relating to a “data vending system” issued to him in 2004. Sony and Apple did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuits.
According to a record of the patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the invention includes a data depot for storing digitized or analog music, video, games, information, computer programs, and a data dispensing device in communication with the data depot. The invention also provides for a uniquely identifiable recordable data carrier described as a recordable device like a removal hard disk or flash memory card. It is configured for recording data from the data dispensing device and a database for keeping a record of the data recorded by a user onto the recordable device, at least a part of which is stored remotely from the device.
The invention was made to address the issue of copyright infringement in which copying usually takes the form of unauthorized copies being made from an original or authorized copy. It also was made to allow authorized end users to recover lost or damaged data without having to purchase another authorized copy from the copyright owner or a licensed vendor. It also allows for the deletion of the data after a certain period if it is downloaded under a rental scheme.
The complainant has asked the court for a judgment that Apple has infringed and continues to infringe the claims of the patent besides a claim for damages to be decided at the trial. A copy of the complaint against Sony was not available in the court records.