Spotify Faces Massive Patent Infringement Lawsuit Tied to Contextual Advertising

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Spotify is facing a patent infringement lawsuit from Guvera. Photo Credit: Puria Berenji

Australia-based music-streaming platform Guvera has filed a firmly worded patent infringement lawsuit against Spotify, centering on the platform’s contextual-advertising functions.

Guvera – which ceased operating as a streaming service in 2017 – just recently submitted the complaint against Spotify to a New York federal court. Digital Music News obtained an exclusive copy of the corresponding filing, which doesn’t elaborate upon the scope and nature of the plaintiff’s current operations.

But needless to say, despite the aforementioned shutdown as well as a much-publicized (and highly controversial) downfall in the preceding years, the underlying Guvera entity still exists in some form. And the company’s suit, for its part, centers on patent number 8,977,633, entitled “System and method for generating a pool of matched content.”

Guvera filed for the patent in the United States in December of 2010, according to the USPTO database, after moving to acquire the patent in Australia in December of 2009 (albeit under the application number 2009906116 and the title “A System And Method For Producing And Displaying Content Representing A Brand Persona”).

In brief, the over 6,500-word-long summary of patent 8,977,633 centers on drawing from the aforementioned pool of “matched content” in order to “provide the consumer with a useful or commercial choice.”

Specifically, the patent outlines a method of linking user profiles (complete with personal info and interests) and “content which is preferred by consumers,” which itself is then paired “with advertising from brands being associated with that content.”

Also covered in the multifaceted patent description are ways to assign “a quantitative value” to the “degree of association” between content and brands, as well as the significant role of “contextual data,” which companies could conceivably use to associate with a particular product or service.

Back to the 10-page-long lawsuit, Guvera states that it “invested over $20 million writing source code” for the above-described patent, and that it has licensed this technology to companies including Mumbai-headquartered Hungama.

The latter entity “is willing to offer evidence in this proceeding regarding the long-felt need, commercial success, and novelty of this invention,” but “a large, well-known American technology company” also licensed the system, the complaint relays. Plus, Guvera maintains that it offered Spotify a license, but the Stockholm-based company “would not consider a license.”

Guvera then indicates in the suit that the various elements of the patent description are reflected in its source code – and are “available for inspection.” Moreover, Spotify infringes upon one component of the patent by featuring “a consumer database with user profiles,” the lawsuit claims, quoting and linking to the Spotify for Brands webpage.

Similarly, the plaintiff alleges (in part by linking to additional Spotify webpages and providing several of the quotes therein) that the defendant assigns “profile identifiers to each piece of digital content,” “generates a pool of matched content,” and pinpoints the “degree of association” between users and brands’ target demographics, purportedly in violation of the patent.

Consequently, Guvera is seeking “a reasonable royalty,” a “post-judgement injunction,” and more. At the time of this piece’s publishing, Spotify – which has faced criticism as of late over “surveillance” patents it’s pursuing – hadn’t commented publicly on Guvera’s complaint.


Digital Music News’ continuing coverage of Intellectual Property Protection and Litigation is sponsored by Pro Music Rights.