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Triller sues TikTok for patent infringement

By | Published on Friday 31 July 2020


We report on far too many copyright disputes in the CMU Daily. How about a bit of variety from time to time? How about a big old patent dispute? Well, good news everybody, Triller has sued TikTok for patent infringement. And about time too.

Although it’s been around for a while now, music-centric video sharing app Triller has become much more buzzy within the music community in the last year or so, as all its various music licensing deals have started to fall into place, further investment has been raised, and the product itself has been honed somewhat.

Often talked about in tandem with good old TikTok, cynics might note that Triller is particularly well placed to cash in if any European or North American governments follow India’s lead in banning its China-owned rival. Although Team Triller might argue that it’s planning on winning the day by simply having a better product. If only bloody TikTok would stop ripping off its innovations.

Which brings us to the patent lawsuit filed with the courts in Texas. It’s US Patent Number 9,691,429 that TikTok is accused of infringing. Which, and I’m sure I don’t need to tell any of you this, covers “systems and methods for creating music videos synchronised with an audio track”. According to TechCrunch, Triller reckons that TikTok is infringing on this patent by allowing its users to “stitch together multiple videos while using the same audio track”.

Yeah, whatever. In patent law, when someone accuses you of infringing one of their patents, you usually respond by claiming they have infringed one of yours. So that’s something to look forward to.

Meanwhile, don’t be thinking that Triller’s plan for taking on TikTok is all about patent squabbles and praying that Donald Trump, still bitter about that TikTokker-led rally ticket booking ruse, goes ahead and bans its big rival Stateside.

No, Triller is also busy signing up big time TikTok creators by inviting them to become advisors to and shareholders in the company. A move that also allows said creators to issue patriotic statements expressing concerns about their former content-platform-of-choice’s Chinese owner and what it does with all that user data. Good times.

And talking of good times, if all that chatter about patent law is boring you silly and you’re desperate to return to good old copyright battles, worry not. Responding to an MBW report about Triller raising a load more investment earlier this week, the boss of the US National Music Publishers Association David Israelite said on Instagram yesterday that the story’s headline “should have read, ‘Watch Out Triller. Have you licensed your music properly?’ Just sayin… Stay tuned”.

Of course, as noted, Triller already has plenty of licensing deals from and solid partnerships with the music industry. Though given how many tech start-ups still sort out their label deals way before agreeing terms with the music publishers and songwriter collecting societies – not to mention the huge complexities on the song licensing side – licensing gaps are almost inevitable.

Given Israelite’s post, presumably Triller’s buzz becoming ever more buzzy – and all that new finance it’s securing – is making those licensing gaps all the more annoying.

And so we look forward to the NMPA’s possible copyright lawsuit. Because, while variety may indeed be the spice of life, at CMU, we’d take a messy copyright bust-up over a stupid patent spat any day of the week. Bring it on!