updated 04:20 pm EDT, Mon March 29, 2010
Zune HD radio suit could affect iPod too
Microsoft late last week was sued for allegedly infringing on patents with the Zune HD's radio app. Illinois-based Edward Yavitz has claimed that the buy-from-radio feature, which lets users tag identified songs on FM or HD Radio and buy them from the Zune Marketplace, copies similar technology that Yavitz patented in 2002. He purportedly contacted Microsoft unsuccessfully about licensing the technology early and billed it as a way of preempting Apple.
"THIS IS ALL POSSIBLE AND PATENTED ... SO IPOD [sic] and Google CAN'T DO IT, but Microsoft can, if you take the time to talk to me," one message to Microsoft read in 2006. It wasn't until late 2008 that the second-generation, non-touch Zune gained song tagging from FM, but that device is largely unavailable.
Microsoft is aware of the lawsuit but hasn't commented whether it plans to fight the case or reach for a settlement. Most such lawsuits are contested at least early on.
The lawsuit has potential ramifications for Apple, which has implemented a similar feature in some cases. The fifth-generation iPod nano can buy songs that are identified by RDS text and tagged. Some third-party audio systems, up to and including Ford's 2010 cars, also implement iTunes Tagging as a way of flagging songs to buy when the lack of an Internet connection or the environment prevent an immediate purchase.
Yavitz hasn't said whether he plans to target Apple or any other media player designers.