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New Patent Infringement Suits Target iHeart, Spotify

Post Media Systems is the plaintiff and is demanding a jury trial and damages

Radio broadcasters are likely going to keep a wary (and weary) eye on a pair of patent infringement lawsuits filed this month against iHeartMedia and Spotify that appear to target their audio playback networks and systems, including podcasting services.

Post Media Systems is the plaintiff and is demanding a jury trial and damages.

Court documents show the lawsuits assert infringement of three United States patents that list Alan Bartholomew of SoniClear as inventor. The back story told in court paperwork indicates that Bartholomew started a software development business that led to the patents.

“While developing office productivity software products for customers, (Bartholomew) worked in his spare time to find creative ways of combining his musical interests and software expertise. This led to his developing a way to broadcast audio files over shared networks, now often referred to as podcasting, such as used for entertainment, marketing and educational purposes,” according to court documents.

Post Media Systems is working on behalf of Bartholomew “to conduct the work necessary to reward and provide compensation to Mr. Bartholomew for the patents in suit,” according to court filings.

Bartholomew’s U.S. patent no. 7,069,310, entitled“System and Method for Creating and Posting Media Lists for Purposes of Subsequent Playback,” appears to lie at the center of the patent infringement suits filed by Devlin Law Firm LLC of Wilmington, Del. “The inventive embodiments of the ‘310 patent resolve technical problems related to a specific functionality of computers and networks (e.g. Internet or other networks) to post, share and playback media, overcoming posting and interface issues specific to different computing systems and accounts on shared networks,” Post Media Systems argues in its filing.

According to a SoniClear website, the company is wholly owned by Trio Systems LLC and makes digital recording products “to record, transcribe and share meetings and legal proceedings.” Trio was founded by Bartholomew in 1978.

“Trio Systems has been involved in creating software for a wide variety of applications and development platforms, including specialization in audio recording systems, office automation software, and database management software,” that website states. “Software developed by Trio Systems is in use in millions of installations, from mission-critical business applications to personal productivity products.” According to his LinkedIn profile, Bartholomew “created a patent portfolio related to user-contributed content publishing, covering areas such as podcasting, social media and app distribution.”

A federal court in Texas on Tuesday agreed to delay iHeartMedia’s response to the suit until early August.

Radio broadcasters have faced increased pressure from companies that aggressively pursue patent infringement lawsuits. That includes Mission Abstract Data (MAD), which in 2011 filed suits against a number of large broadcast groups contending their music automation systems violated patents it held. The MAD patents went through a number of patent reexaminations by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and has lingered for years. That case remains open in U.S. District Court in Delaware but the latest update to the court docket was in October 2013.