Is Dutch company’s suit against Spotify a case of “patent squatting”?

Lots of people in Florida have fallen in love with streaming music service Spotify. However, Dutch competitor Nonend isn’t one of them.

Nonend recently sued Spotify, alleging that Spotify is infringing on the 40 patents Nonend holds that protect its peer-to-peer search, streaming and playback techniques.

What’s interesting is that it is unclear what Nonend, a Dutch company, actually does. Evidently, it acquired some patents in 2000 and 2001 with the goal of becoming an “Internet radio” company, but it does not seem it was ever successful. Reporters who have followed this lawsuit note that Nonend does not seem to currently offer any products or services.

Now, in one sense, whether Nonend ever made it financially does not matter because it does not impact whether Spotify is infringing on Nonend’s legitimately acquired, valid patents. However, some critics might call this “patent squatting.” In other words, if Nonend is sort of The Business That Never Was and Spotify is a 21st Century Success Story (it has 3 million subscribers and is valued at around $4 billion), then is Nonend just suing Spotify in order to make money off patents it isn’t using and knows it will never use?

Again, we don’t know the ins and outs of Nonend’s claim, so it’s just as possible that it’s perfectly legitimate as it is that this is a case of patent squatting.

Source: Tech Crunch, “Spotify Gets Hit With A Patent Suit From Nonend, A Dutch Peer-to-Peer IP Holder,” Ingrid Lunden, Aug. 15, 2012

Our office works with people who are interested in obtaining patents, as well as with those who want to register trademarks or acquire copyrights. For relevant information on these intellectual property protections, one helpful resource might be the Intellectual Property Litigation page of our website.