Developed in 1996 before the earliest MP3 player became commercially available, Personal Audio’s novel portable audio player design provided the user with an easily navigated, personalized listening session defined by a downloaded playlist file that specified a playback sequence of separately stored audio files. The Personal Audio portable player incorporated simple, easy to use, controls that permitted the user to skip between the songs in the playlist sequence in either direction. These playlist controls have since been incorporated into most popular portable music players and smartphones, and Personal Audio patents covering players which use these playlist controls have been licensed by most leading portable player and smartphone manufacturers. The 1996 Personal Audio player using downloaded playlists is described and claimed in U.S. Patents 6,199,076 entitled “Audio program player including dynamic program selection controller” and in U.S. Patent 7,509,178 entitled “Audio program distribution and playback system.”
Both the ’078 and ’178 patents were found to be valid in Personal Audio v. Apple, (E.D Tex 2011). In a decision mailed Oct. 23, 2012, the validity of the issued claims of the ’076 patent was confirmed by the U.S. Patent Office in an ex-parte re-examination. Proceedings in an earlier inter-partes re-examination of the ’178 patent were terminated before a final decision at the request of Apple, Inc.