In the comment thread of a previous post ("A Conversation with the CFO of Destiny Media"), a commenter raised questions about the company's dispute with Yangaroo (TSX Venture: YOO.V). I had asked Fred Vandenberg, Destiny Media's CFO, for an updated statement on the dispute, and today he e-mailed me one. Here it is:
On the Patent Dispute:
The uncertainty and doubt you bring up regarding Yangaroo's Canadian patent and US patent application is a nuisance and it is unfortunate that we have to invest any resources at all in this matter. We are, however, very confident in a successful outcome of the Canadian litigation we initiated. We have gone through extensive legal reviews which appear to support this belief. We believe that our system existed first (this being the most salient reason we could not infringe) but we also believe, and consistent with our counsel’s advice, that we simply do not have the essential features in their patent. Further, to accommodate our global expansion, the Play MPE system expands and evolves over time and while we believe there would be no infringement at any point in time, we believe it would be exceedingly (and more) difficult to find infringement over the breadth of time.
If you come across anything from Yangaroo directly which states, or suggests, that we do infringe, or on what possible basis we do infringe, I would be interested in seeing this.
The MPE system was developed by Destiny in 1999 and we received a US patent granted with a priority date of March 2000. This is also filed with WIPO (world intellectual property organization). This is also cited as prior art in Yangaroo's US patent application. Presumably, the examiner reviewing their application has differentiated our patent from their patent.
Per the points posted on your blog:a) The patent has not kept us from operating the Play MPE system on a commercial basis in Canada.
b) It appears that Yangaroo may shortly receive a patent in the US. Yangaroo has made our US customers, most notably EMI and Warner (see press release February http://www.wmg.com/news/year/2009/sortBy/desc/newspage/4), aware of this pending US patent. Thus both EMI and Warner Music Group undertook internal and external legal reviews. Destiny had extensive discussions with both counsels. Both, subsequent to their respective legal reviews, chose to sign agreements with Play MPE and both continue to use our system on a commercial basis. We believe they would only do so if they were comfortable that there is no infringement. This is in addition to our agreement with Universal Music Group. http://new.umusic.com/News.aspx?Year=2008 (see June 6, 2008 press release by Universal).
[Below] are some links for further information: We had initiated the lawsuit in Canada to establish through the courts that we do not infringe as a direct consequence to threats made by Yangaroo's management to potential customers that were interested in using our MPE system. Yangaroo had threatened certain labels with lawsuits and going so far as to say it was "illegal" to use our system.
Fred Vandenberg also added this in a separate e-mail:
On CEO/CFO Purchases:
You had mentioned that you had noticed Destiny’s CEO and CFO have been buying shares so I checked and over the course of the last two years we (Steve [Vestergaard, Destiny's CEO] at over 330,000 and myself at 130,000) have purchased more than 460,000 shares which represents approximately $290,000 (Cdn currency) in addition to our existing holdings. This is more than a full year’s compensation for the combination of us. In the same time period, Cliff Hunt and John Heaven, Yangaroo’s CFO and CEO respectively, have purchased less than $20,000 (Cdn) of Yangaroo shares representing approximately 5% of their annual salaries.