By Peter Cohen, [email protected]
Ding! It's round two in the fight between CD mastering software maker Roxio and CDDB music database service Gracenote. In May, Roxio found itself the target of a lawsuit filed by Gracenote. Today Roxio indicated that it has filed its own countersuit, claiming that Gracenote "fraudulently obtained" its patent and is now bilking developers for access to a service that ought to be free.
Gracenote's CDDB is an online database that provides artist, album and track name and information for commercially published CDs. The service remains free for end users, although Gracenote charges a usage fee for developers who create commercial software that accesses the database. Gracenote said that Roxio let its contract to use CDDB lapse this past April, and then Roxio started its own competing service. Gracenote said that Roxio's service infringes on their patents.
Roxio said today that Gracenote is in the wrong. Roxio claims that Gracenote fraudulently obtained both the patent and the CDDB trademark by failing to disclose key information to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Roxio has also filed antitrust claims and breach of contract claims based on Gracenote's termination of service to Roxio customers.
Bill Growney is Roxio's director of legal affairs. He spelled out the essence of Roxio's allegations in a recent press release.
"Gracenote sought to obtain patent rights to publicly released software without informing the U.S. Patent Office of the prior art, sought to trademark a generic acronym (CDDB) by misleading the U.S. Trademark Office and sought to obtain copyright protection for the work of the CDDB contributors. Having built its database by promising the public that the database was to be freely accessible, Gracenote is now attempting to misappropriate and monopolize access to public information, and seeks to impose supracompetitive pricing for that access," said Growney.
And if you're interested in reading a counterpoint, Gracenote president David Hyman offered his own perspective on the lawsuit his company filed against Roxio last month.