Patent Office Dismisses Mission Abstract Data Automation Claim

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Washington - Oct 24, 2011 - Mission Abstract Data, a company that has pursued action on two patents it holds (5,809,246 and 5,629,867), seems to have lost its fight. The patents, which essentially describe methods of storing and retrieving music on a hard drive system for radio station playback, are the source of legal action where Mission Abstract Data (MAD) filed a lawsuit against several large broadcasters and sought licensing fees from radio stations for using the technology.

Several automation system manufacturers appealed to the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) claiming the MAD patents were filed on technology that already existed. The Patent Office released a detailed action that rejects many of the claims from MAD. Among the exhibits showing the technology already existed before the patent was filed included materials from Arrakis for the Digilink and Dalet.

In patent '246, claims 1-7, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18, 21, 24, and 27 were rejected. In patent '867 claims 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7 were rejected. While the patents also cover the use of accessing music via a phone or cable network - aspects that are still being upheld - the elements of a PC with central storage and a shared audio file database have been shown to be existing art from the Arrakis and Dalet materials.

Mission Abstract Data has 60 days to appeal, but this action helps radio broadcasters in avoiding liability under the patent claims.

The lawsuit against CBS, Beasley, Cox, Greater Media, Cumulus and others in Delaware is still pending. That case was on hold pending action by the Patent Office and is now slated to convene on Oct. 27.

Mike Palmer, president of Arrakis, shared this information with Radio magazine, which relates to the documentation the Patent Office used to reject portions of the patent claim:

"Exhaustive research has proven Arrakis Digilink to be the only documented U.S. manufacturer of a music on hard disk product prior to January 1993, the critical date one year before the application for the patent. As it happens, we first displayed Digilink at the Spring 1991 NAB Show, shipped our first unit on May 17, 1991, and shipped more than 500 units worldwide before the patents were applied for in early 1994. The product supported music on hard drive with hundreds of songs in a play list from serial number one. The product line continued to evolve from Digilink model 1, 2, 3, 4, to the current model Digilink-Xtreme. More than 10,000 Digilink automation systems have been distributed worldwide in the last 20 years.

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