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TikTok sued over patents

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By James Davies, Partner and Patent Attorney, Adams and Adams

TikTok, the social network and video sharing platform of the moment, is being sued for patent infringement. Rival Triller (less well-known than TikTok to many) has filed a patent infringement lawsuit in the USA for a video-related patent. The patent in question is US Patent No. 9,691,429. Patent documents can get pretty technical, but this patent is for a method of combining multiple videos synchronised to a single audio track, which forms a big part of TikTok’s offering.

TikTok introduced a feature in December 2019 called the “green screen video” feature, which enables users to capture multiple short videos and then synchronise or stitch them together to one song (or audio track).  It is this feature that Triller claims infringes its US patent and, accordingly, has approached the US courts for an injunction (an interdict) and damages against TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance.

TikTok popularity has not been without controversy and TikTok has been in many recent headlines citing privacy concerns.  Some say that TikTok is a mere victim of the ongoing US-China trade war while others claim that the privacy and user data concerns are justified.  TikTok has already been banned in India and there are rumours that it will be banned in the USA, while further rumours swirl that large US corporations, including Microsoft, are interested in purchasing TikTok for the US market.

It is not yet clear what the outcome of the patent lawsuit will be or how it will influence any potential acquisition of TikTok, but it is definitely a case worth watching.

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