Apple, AT&T, Samsung, Verizon, and others sued over Shazam app

Tune Hunter claims it holds the patent on the technology behind Shazam's music identification and discovery service.

Erica Ogg Former Staff writer, CNET News
Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur.
Erica Ogg
2 min read

Correction 5/18: Gracenote was incorrectly listed as a partner of Shazam.

Earlier this week, a company called Tune Hunter accused music-finding service Shazam as well as a host of consumer electronics makers, wireless service operators, and digital music retailers of infringing on its patent on a music identification system.

Shazam is named along with Samsung, Apple, Amazon.com, Napster, Motorola, Gracenote, Verizon Wireless, LG Electronics, AT&T Mobility, and Pantech Wireless in a suit filed Tuesday over U.S. Patent No. 6,941,275, which was issued to Remi Swierczek/Tune Hunter in September 2005. The suit accuses Shazam's music discovery and identification service of violating the patent and the other companies of benefiting directly from Shazam's alleged infringement. Tune Hunter is asking for unspecified damages and an injunction from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Texas that would prevent "further infringement" on Tune Hunter's patent.

Tune Hunter's patent covers "a music identification/purchasing system, specifically to a method for marking the time and the name of the radio station in portable device such as a key holder, watch, cellular phone, beeper or the like which will allow the user to learn via internet or regular telephone the name of the song, artist and/or music company by matching the stored data with broadcast archive."

Shazam is available on several different mobile devices. It is a popular iPhone application sold through Apple's App Store, which "listens" to songs and identifies them. Samsung is a partner with London-based Shazam on a mobile music store. Amazon.com is a retail partner of Shazam. Gracenote is a competitor.

Shazam was founded in 2002 in London and says by the end of the year its service will be available on 250 million devices.

Shazam, AT&T, Apple, and Gracenote each said they had no comment on the suit, and Samsung and Verizon had not yet heard about it.

Shazam is also available on many platforms not named in the lawsuit, including Research In Motion's BlackBerry, Facebook, and Android-based phones like T-Mobile's G1.

CNET News reporters Maggie Reardon and Greg Sandoval contributed to this story.