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ZapMedia Loses Appeal Against Apple in Patent Infringement Lawsuit

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on May 01, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's not easy to win a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple. ZapMedia has learned this the expensive way; it lost its latest battle in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals last week.

The ZapMedia-Apple lawsuit has been in the courts for many years now. In a suit brought before the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, ZapMedia alleged that Apple had infringed on a patent over ZapMedia's technology.

The technology in question was the "system and method for distributing media assets to user devices via a portal synchronized by said user devices."

Sound familiar?

From the initial looks of it, it's the very technology found on iTunes.

ZapMedia claims that it developed this system and shopped it around in the late 1990s. One of the companies it claimed to have shown the system to was Apple, where ZapMedia claimed to have described its vision in great detail.

In the patent infringement lawsuit before the district court, the court granted summary judgment of noninfringement of claims to Apple on U.S. Patent 7,343,414.

ZapMedia appealed the judgment and the underlying claim construction that the court relied on to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a non-precedential opinion, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court, and sided with Apple. The claim language in the patent showed that the authorizing limitations limited "access" to media assets only to "authorized" media players.

This reading of the claim focused then on whether the authorized media players can access media assets and not whether unauthorized devices could play the assets.

The winning point for Apple was the fact that their technology allowed for unauthorized devices to access the assets as well as authorized ones. As such, they were held not to be infringing.

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