In November 2000, a US appeals court ruled on the controversial patent, finding that the patent did not cover sales of digital products downloaded only to PC hard drives. However, where digital products have been downloaded, streamed or copied to CD, paper or other storage media, the ruling said that the patent might apply.
The patent expired in January 2003, but E-Data is still suing for past violations. Accordingly, it yesterday announced its lawsuit against 14 companies, also including The New York Times and Hallmark Cards.
According to Bert Brodsky, chairman of E-Data, "These 14 companies have violated our patents. We have a very strong track record enforcing our intellectual property rights, as evidenced by our favourable decision with the US Court of Appeals, and our recent settlement with Apple Computer."
The settlement with Apple granted a licence for the iTunes platform, although financial terms remain confidential. It followed an aggressive licensing and patent enforcement campaign in the US and the 10 European countries where E-Data holds the European equivalent of its Freeny Patent.
E-Data has pending litigation against stock photography specialists Getty Images and Corbis in both the US and in the UK. In January, it settled similar claims against the HMV Group and on-line music distributor OD2. It has also achieved settlements with Microsoft and Tiscali.
"We have identified additional companies that are infringing upon our intellectual property, both in the US and abroad, and will seek the necessary legal actions to ensure that our rights are enforced worldwide."