CD-burning company faces patent lawsuit

A cloud is forming over CD-burning company Roxio's planned spinoff next week in the form of a lawsuit filed by Gracenote, an online music service.

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A cloud is forming over CD-burning company Roxio's planned spinoff next week in the form of a lawsuit filed Thursday by Gracenote, an online music service.

Roxio, a subsidiary of Adaptec, sells software that allows people to burn CDs from MP3 music files or other data. In early versions, the company had licensed software from Gracenote that allowed automatic identification of music CDs and songs.

Gracenote now says that Roxio, which let that contract expire last month, is illegally continuing to distribute the music recognition software and has infringed on Gracenote patents by creating a parallel service of its own in new versions of the software.

"We don't know what distribution they're doing, but we know we have the right to make them stop," said Gracenote general counsel Dave Marglin.

Gracenote's service is built around a vast database of song names and CD titles. Its software recognizes songs on CDs and then tells applications such as AOL Time Warner's Winamp what the names of songs and discs are. Song-swapping service Napster is using Gracenote's database to help identify songs and block them at the request of music labels.

A Roxio representative said the company had not seen the lawsuit and did not comment on pending legal matters. The company was incorporated as a separate subsidiary of Adaptec in September 2000.

The suit was filed in federal court in San Francisco. Roxio will begin trading Monday on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the ticker symbol, "ROXI."

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