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Apple Settles Patent Lawsuit with Burst

Could this be the licensing trend for the new millennium? In settlement of all patent infringing lawsuits between them, Apple and Burst announced a cash settlement of $10 Million to be paid to Burst upon signing of the “settlement”. Apple then gets non exclusive rights to all of Bursts patents except 4 (one issued and 3 pending) related to new DVR technology.

314241_i-pod_mini_blue_1.jpgBurst had claimed that Apple infringed patents related to transmission of compressed files in iTunes, QuickTime and the iPod. Apple claimed it possessed the technology before Burst applied for patents.

Turning back the clock, in 2005 Burst announced a $60 Million settlement with Microsoft, providing an end to patent infringement lawsuits between them and giving Microsoft nonexclusive use of Burst’s patent portfolio.

In this 2005 press release, Richard Lang, Burst CEO stated his intention to use the Microsoft proceeds in 3 areas of the business. Number 2 was “To Reserve a sufficient amount of operating capital to launch a vigorous ongoing enforcement of its patent rights against all infringing parties, as well as pursuing software licensing and other avenues available to the Company to maximize the return to Burst shareholders.

He would appear to be a man of his word. The question remains, are patent infringement lawsuits the new licensing vehicle for high tech companies? Ultimately time will tell but in my perception, the trend is clear.