SALT LAKE CITY, Nov. 30 LAWFUEL – Law News, Law Jobs Network — A recent out-of-court
settlement between Apple Computer and the owner of the patent that covers
the downloading of music and video with the ability to play music and video
on a device (technology essential to the iPod and other music and video
technology) has landed the attorney in the national spotlight.
Michael Starkweather is now commenting on the impact of Apple’s
decision that affects “The future of the whole cell phone, iPod and PDA
industry. That’s the billion dollar patent.” Starkweather believes that
this patent has just overcome its first major legal victory. “I believe
that, with this patent in hand, Apple will eventually be after every phone
company, film maker, computer maker and video producer to pay royalties on every download of not just music but also movies and videos.”
This patent is considered by some to be one of the most important in
years for the industry and in particular Apple. Since launching the iPod in
2001, iPod’s 3rd quarter 2006 sales accounted for 42 percent or about $4
billion, of Apple’s record-breaking revenues. If the patent had landed in
the hands of Apple’s competitors, it would have seriously threatened Apple.
Currently, the iTunes software, which is covered by the patent is the
primary access point to Apple’s industry-leading iTunes Music Store. This
software is available in 19 countries where more than 450 million songs
have been downloaded worldwide.
Starkweather wrote the patent in 1996 for a Vermont inventor who
originally didn’t show interest in patenting the idea or understand its
value. The concept consisted of a desktop computer holding multiple songs
with an interface allowing a hotel guest to select three songs and play
them on an electric grand piano. Starkweather saw the broader value and
broke the patent into three elements; remote music storage, selection of
music to download and playing music on a music device. Starkweather
realized that downloading movies was an obvious variation to downloading
music. It was data manipulated in the same way. “Sometimes it’s easy to
break an invention down to its key components,” Starkweather says.
“That’s why patent writing is an art, not a science, and requires creativity.”
Starkweather began his career as a Patent Examiner in the U.S. Patent
and Trademark Office, then served as in-house Patent Attorney for several
major corporations, including Xerox Corporation, AT&T/NCR, Micron
Semiconductor and IBM.
I.P. portfolio management has been a major focus for Mr. Starkweather.
He has developed tools for executives to clearly “valuate” I.P. portfolios
involving thousands of patents. Those valuations have been used to
negotiate hundred million dollar mergers, acquisitions, and licensing
Currently, Starkweather is practicing patent law in Salt Lake City at
his law firm, Advantia Law Group which he founded. He is available for
interviews on the recent settlement or in relation to corporate and patent
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