By now, most people have an opinion on Spotify, the new (to the United States) music streaming service. Spotify started off being available only in Europe and has recently reached content deals with the major U.S. record labels, making it available in the U.S. Spotify prepared for their U.S. launch by filing for Intellectual Property protection in certain cases.
While Spotify has clearly not neglected IP, the IP portfolio appears to still be very much under development. With the usual caveat that U.S. patent applications do not publish until eighteen months after they are filed, I was able to find only a single published patent application assigned to Spotify. The application is U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2009/0019174 and is titled “Peer-to-Peer Streaming of Media Content.” The application was filed in July 2007 with Spotify’s former CTO, Andreas Ehn, listed as the main inventor on the patent. The subject matter of the application appears to be directed to Spotify’s peer-to-peer implementation that hands off media streams between a central server and other peers. The USPTO’s public application information database (“PAIR”) shows that prosecution of the application is on going, with no less than three Office Actions having been issued by the USPTO.
In addition to the patent application, Spotify has been issued three trademarks. The familiar circular logo has been registered as a design mark; a word mark for the term “Spotify”; and a design plus words mark for the spelled out version of Spotify’s logo. All three marks were registered in the same four classes: classes 9 (computer software…), 35 (advertising and marketing services), 38 (transmission and streaming of digital media content…) and 41 (entertainment…). The design mark was filed in October 2009, while the other two marks were both filed in January 2007.
Finally, there is no record at the copyright office of any copyright registrations to Spotify.
The most interesting take away from Spotify’s U.S. IP portfolio appears to be the timeline of the filings. Spotify launched in Europe in October 2008 and did not officially launch in the U.S. until July 2010. However, the patent application and two of its three trademark applications were actually filed in the U.S. in early-to-mid 2007, over a year before Spotify’s launch in Europe. Thus, it is clear that Spotify had its eye on the U.S. market even before officially launching in Europe.