Apple enters legal battle with Burst.com

After negotiations break down, Mac maker asks court to determine Burst's patent infringement claims are invalid.

Apple Computer has asked a federal court to determine that Burst.com's allegations of patent infringement are invalid.

Apple's declaratory relief complaint, filed earlier this week with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, came after negotiations to license Burst.com's video and audio delivery software broke down, a Burst representative said. The issue centers on technology used in Apple's popular iPod player and iTunes software and service.

According to a copy of Apple's complaint, Burst approached Apple in late 2004 regarding securing a license for the Burst technology. Burst's attorneys then informed Apple that Burst believed Apple was infringing on its patents, according to the complaint.

Despite discussions of Apple licensing Burst.com's technology for the iPod and iTunes, the issue came to a head late last year.

"In late 2005, in at least one written communication, Burst.com's attorneys threatened litigation against Apple," the complaint states. "Apple denies that any of the patents in (the) suit are or have been infringed by Apple and disputes their validity."

Burst.com, in response to Apple's complaint, said it plans to file a countersuit alleging patent infringement related to the iPod and iTunes, as well as to Apple's QuickTime software.

A representative for Apple noted: "Unfortunately, we have been unable to resolve the disagreement with Burst directly, so we are asking the court to decide."

If Burst succeeds in its patent lawsuit against Apple, it would mark its second major victory over a large tech company. Last March, Microsoft and Burst reached a $60 million settlement over allegations that the software giant had used, without permission, Burst's technology to speed delivery of video.

Burst had claimed that Microsoft initially gained access to its technology when the two companies were negotiating a licensing deal, which ultimately collapsed.

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