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There’s a new legal rumble afoot in the digital music world, and it involves a company called Blue Spike and its patents for digital watermarking technology. It is suing two major labels, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group, alleging patent infringement. Bloomberg Law reported on the lawsuits, and published the full filings: the WMG one is here, and the UMG one here. Unpicking the documents, the case appears to focus on the process through which the labels are using hi-res music company MQA’s encoding process.

Blue Spike is a serial litigant when it comes to these kinds of patents: indeed, the filings refer to its past claims of infringement against Pandora, Spotify, Tidal and SoundCloud (although at the time of writing we haven’t been able to turn up the results of those cases), while as far back as 2012 it was targeting the likes of Shazam, SoundHound, MySpace, Audible Magic, and various other tech companies with filings. Its enthusiasm for suing has led to accusations that Blue Spike is a ‘patent troll’ in the past, but WMG and UMG will clearly be assessing the merits of its new lawsuits carefully, as will MQA if the company is targeting its partners in the music industry.

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Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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