US patent office narrows internet music files patent

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued a revised version of the Patent on Internet Music Files after the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) pressured it to axe several points in the controversial legal document.

The EFF claimed that the patents in question “threatened to stifle” developments in online music distribution. In efforts to fight against the the patents it joined with Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder and filed a request for re-examination in 2008.

The EFF cited ten patents it believed needed to be abolished as part of its Patent Busting Project, and now nine of those ten have been axed, invalidated, narrowed, or re-examined, representing a major success for the EFF and supporters of patent reform or abolishment.

The Patent on Internet Music Files will now be reissued by the USPTO, but with patent claims that are significantly narrower in scope than the original document. This allows for more developments within the online music industry to go ahead without the fear of infringing on broad patents.

The patent has also been clarified on several points by the owner, Seer Systems, as part of the USPTO’s re-examination of it under pressure from the EFF and others. EFF welcomed the clarifications, saying that it will now be easier to design around the patent to avoid infringing it.