The latest turn in the ongoing radio automation patent infringement suit against a number of large broadcast groups has the presiding judge considering lifting a stay that has sidetracked the case since last year, according to Kevin Goldberg of Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth in his CommLaw Blog.
The patent dispute pits Mission Abstract Data LLC, which holds or held several patents that describe a system and method for a programmable digital audio system for radio stations where the music is stored in a digital database, against CBS Radio, Cumulus, Greater Media and others in federal court in Delaware.
The patent infringement suit, filed by Mission Abstract Media in March 2011, has been in limbo since the presiding judge issued a stay while an examiner from the U.S. Patent and Trademark reexamined the patents. The USPTO examiner withdrew a number of major elements of the patent in October, 2011.
Prior art submitted by Digilink and Dalet played a role in the reexamination of the patents, according to USPTO documents at the time. Radio automation supplier Broadcast Electronics, which is not a defendant in the patent infringement lawsuit, had requested the ex-parte patent reexamination.
MAD, referred to by Goldberg as a “patent troll,” then appealed to the USPTO asking them to reconsider some of the invalid claims and it appears that several have been reinstated, according to Goldberg.
Mission Abstract Data in early June requested the stay in their lawsuit against the radio broadcasters be lifted citing the new USPTO findings. It also filed paperwork that indicated the patents have been sold to another company, Digimedia Holdings Group.
Goldberg writes that he expects broadcasters will file a response with the federal judge in the next few weeks to address the latest developments in the case.
Meanwhile, a number of radio broadcasters are again receiving letters from Digimedia requesting they sign a licensing agreement in order to use the technology, according to Goldberg’s blog. The patents, approved in 1997, were originally issued to inventor Robert Goldman.