It looks like Apple’s iTunes and Sony’s PlayStation Network are under attack. No, not by hackers but by a lawsuit brought about by a South African inventor, Benjamin Grobler, who alleges that both Apple and Sony have infringed upon his patent pertaining to a “data vending system” that was granted to him back in 2004.
According to the patent description, the invention provides more than just a data vending system and also includes a data depot for storing digitized or analog music, video, games, information and computer programs, and also a data dispensing device that is in communication with the data depot. The patent also points towards a remote database that maintains ownership and user records.
To put it simply, the invention was intended to address the issue of copyright infringement that occurs when an unauthorized copy has been made from an original/authorized copy. It also wanted to allow users who purchased copyrighted material legally to be able to redownload the data in the event that they have lost/deleted it. It certainly sounds a lot like what iTunes and the PlayStation Network are offering, but exactly how similar are they? We guess we will have to let the courts decide. Grobler is currently seeking claims of damages although it was not specified as to how much he was asking for.