Patent troll sues high-tech over playlists

The patent troll of the week is Premier International Associates, which, Ars Technica reports, which has filed suit against Microsoft, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, Viacom, Real, Napster, Samsung, LG, Motorola, Nokia, and Sandisk. For what?

The patent troll of the week is Premier International Associates, which, Ars Technica reports, which has filed suit against Microsoft, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, Viacom, Real, Napster, Samsung, LG, Motorola, Nokia, and Sandisk.

For what? Violating Premier's patents for a "list building system."

The patents describe what essentially comes down to a playlist. "A plurality of works can be collected together in a list for purposes of establishing a play or a presentation sequence. The list can be visually displayed and edited," reads the "725" patent. Both of them describe ways to graphically display an arrangement of songs from CDs or any manner of media that can then be played back sequentially or out-of-order.

Isn't there something about patentable inventions being "nonobvious?"

The company accuses the tech companies of infringing by selling a product, using music-playing software and devices, that puts music in some sort of list. Interestingly, Apple is not on the list. But, wait, they already sued Apple in 2005 but Friday moved for dismissal of those claims, saying all issues have been resolved. Did they get a settlement from Cupertino?

Predictably, Premier appears to have no tangible company history other than patent infringement lawsuits and does not produce any sort of product that competes with any of the companies listed.

Premier is asking for permanent injunctions to stop the companies from continuing to infringe. But the Supreme Court's holding in MercExchange v. eBay (PDF), that permanent injunctions need not automatically follow an infringement claim, should means courts will not be too enthusiastic about shutting down serious commercial activity based on claims of this sort.

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