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Apple sued over iTunes interface

Vermont's Contois Music & Technology alleges that the iTunes interface infringes on its patent. Image: Comparing sites

A Vermont company has sued Apple Computer, alleging that the interface for iTunes infringes on its patent.

Contois Music & Technology filed suit last week in U.S. District Court in Vermont, alleging that Apple's actions are "irreparably" damaging Contois. The company seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction, as well as unspecified damages, according to the lawsuit. Contois is also charging that Apple's patent infringement is willful, and is asking the court to take this into account in calculating damages by tripling the amount it would otherwise award.

Apple sued over iTunes An Apple representative declined to comment. A lawyer for Contois did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

In its suit, Contois said that it gave Apple written notice regarding its patent in September 2004 and also alleges that Apple was aware of the patent at least as early as Jan. 30, 2003.

Specifically, the lawsuit said that Contois owner David Contois showed off his idea for a computer interface for music-playing software at the November 1995 Comdex event and at a music trade show in 1996. The suit charges that people who either then or later became Apple employees attended the event and saw Contois' exhibit.

The lawsuit was reported earlier on Tuesday by Mac enthusiast site AppleInsider.

Apple has faced other legal actions related to its music efforts. Virgin has complained to European regulators that Apple's refusal to license its FairPlay digital-rights management technology is unfair. Apple has also settled patent claims with E-Data over the Apple Music Store. Also, Apple Corps., the Beatles' record label, has sued the Mac maker, claiming that it went beyond its permitted use of the Apple trademark in entering the music business.