Playlist Patent Lawsuit Costs Apple $8 Million

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Apple may be regretting letting iTunes and iPod users effortlessly skip back and forth through their playlists, having just been told by a Texas court that it’ll cost the company $8 million in damages for the ability to do so.

Apple’s payout comes after it lost a patent infringement case brought against it by a patent licensing company based in Beaumont, TX, called Personal Audio. That company brought the case against Apple in 2009, claiming that it owned patents for downloadable playlists and software that allowed users to move backwards or forwards between playlist tracks.

Apple’s defense argued that the patents were invalid, adding that it wasn’t actually using the same technology anyway. But a jury disagreed, ruling Friday in Personal Audio’s favor.

If there’s an upside for Apple, it’s that the jury’s $8 million award is significantly lower than the $84 million that Personal Audio initially asked for in damages, and that even $8 million is a small part of the $8.3 billion in revenue that the iPod brought into the company last year.

More: 3G Rumored for Next iPod Touch

Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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