Music Choice Gets 'Urge' to Sue Viacom, MTVN

Music Choice filed a federal lawsuit against Viacom and MTV Networks, alleging that MTV’s Urge Radio service infringes two patents issued to Music Choice last year.

The suit was filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. Music Choice is seeking unspecified monetary damages and an injunction preventing Viacom and MTVN from using the patents in question.

Music Choice accuses MTV’s Urge Radio of infringing on U.S. Patent No. 7,275,256 (“System and Method for Providing an Interactive, Visual Complement to an Audio Program”), issued on Sept. 25, 2007; and 7,158,169 (“Method and System for Displaying Content While Reducing Burn-In of a Display”), issued Jan. 2, 2007.

Verizon Communications’ FiOS TV and AT&T U-verse TV are among the customers for Urge Radio, which includes an array of themed music channels.

MTVN spokeswoman Jeannie Kedas declined to comment on the suit.

Music Choice, founded in 1987, is now jointly owned by Comcast, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable, Microsoft, Motorola, Sony Corporation of America and EMI Music. The Horsham, Pa.-based company offers more than 50 channels of commercial-free music to cable operators and other video distributors.

Last August, MTVN discontinued its online-music subscription site, created in partnership with Microsoft, and merged it with RealNetworks’ Rhapsody service. The MTVN-RealNetworks joint venture, Rhapsody America, sells song downloads to PCs and portable music devices.

The Urge Radio music channels that MTVN offers to video operators were not part of the deal with Rhapsody America, spokeswoman Mariana Agathoklis said at the time, although the company had expected to change the Urge Radio branding at some point.