Stingray Digital Group answers claims made by Music Choice in patent suit filed in Texas
Tech patent fights are nasty, a pain in the you-know-where, and often fought through patent trolls. But there are also the kinds of patent fights that are about established brands looking to slowdown or defeat new market entries.
In June, Music Choice, a company owned by Comcast, Cox, Time Warner Cable, Microsoft, Motorola/Arris, and Sony Corporation of America, sued Montreal-based competitor Stingray Digital Group. According to Music Choice’s lawsuit, filed in Texas (though the company is headquartered in Pennsylvania), Stingray’s digital music service infringes four patents, including those related to onscreen technology that displays music information and visuals.
“Music Choice has invested a lot of time and money developing innovative products for our customers. We have gone through great measures to secure patents for our intellectual property and feel compelled to take legal action to protect our business investment,” Dave Del Beccaro, President and CEO of Music Choice said. “Stingray must compete fairly in the marketplace without using Music Choice’s proprietary, patented technology in blatant violation of our intellectual property rights. While competition and innovation in our industry will undoubtedly provide benefits to our customers, the competition must be fair and the innovation original.”
At the time of the lawsuit, Stingray responded that they would fight the claims. “Given the significant inroads that Stingray has made in the U.S. market with its industry-changing technology, Stingray believes that Music Choice’s complaint is without merit and primarily motivated by competitive concerns rather than a desire to protect its intellectual property,” the company said.
Now Stingray has responded further, releasing a statement (below). Like similar suits, this one promises to be ugly, as well.
MONTREAL, QUEBEC – August 30, 2016 –– Stingray Digital Group Inc. today countered in court what it believes are meritless allegations by Music Choice of patent infringement in relation to Stingray’s innovative music products and services. In an Answer and Counterclaim filed today in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Marshall Division), Stingray vigorously denies Music Choice’s claims of patent infringement and asserts counterclaims of non-infringement and invalidity of the five patents asserted in the First Amended Complaint for Patent Infringement filed in that Court on or about August 12, 2016 (the “Complaint”).
In addition, in a separate lawsuit, also filed today in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Marshall Division), Stingray Music USA, Inc. asserts claims of unfair competition, defamation, trade libel, tortious interference with existing and prospective contractual relationships, and unfair competition. The separate lawsuit was necessary in view of the fact that Music Choice sued the wrong party in its First Amended Complaint for Patent Infringement.
“As explained in our Complaint, Music Choice has displayed a pattern of trying to stifle new market entrants with false statements and unfair commercial practices” says Eric Boyko, President, Co-founder and CEO of Stingray. “Instead of disseminating false facts and filing lawsuits, Music Choice should use its resources to innovate its offerings and improve relations with its remaining customers and suppliers.”
“Stingray answers Music Choice’s Complaint as a first step in establishing the invalidity and non-infringement of Music Choice’s patents,” says Mr. Boyko. In fact, as Stingray will demonstrate at trial, the asserted patents are invalid based, in part, upon certain prior art technology previously owned by a Music Choice subsidiary (subsequently purchased by Stingray in a share purchase transaction) of which the U.S. Patent Office was unaware during the prosecution of the patents. Furthermore, in its own action, Stingray Music USA, Inc. will be seeking monetary damages for the harm it suffered as a result of Music Choice’s attempts to damage Stingray’s reputation and exclude it from lawfully competing in the U.S. market.”
The litigations are ongoing and no trial dates have been scheduled. The complete filings are on record with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Marshall Division) or available by request from Stingray.