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Aureal sues Creative Technology

3D audio patents at heart of latest in a looooong line of legal battles. Will it ever end?

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Aureal Semiconductor and Creative Labs are biting at each other's heels again. This time, Aureal has demanded a US federal court order Creative cease selling its SoundBlaster Live! and Live! Value cards. The reason is that old add-in card chestnut: patent infringement. The patents in question cover Aureal's 3D audio technology. But this is just the latest in a long line of spats between the two companies and others in the highly-competitive PC add-ins market. "While we would prefer a non-litigation solution to this type of matter, we felt we had no other choice but to assert our intellectual property rights through the courts," said Aureal president and CEO Kip Kokinakis. It's a rather ironic statement given only a month ago, Aureal's VP and general counsel, Brendan O'Flaherty, claimed that "Creative seems to prefer to bring these issues to a courthouse rather than resolving them either directly or in the marketplace." He was referring to a suit launched by Creative based on allegations that Aureal was misrepresenting the SoundBlaster Live! and Live! Value cards' specifications in its advertising. Aureal's answer (see Aureal responds to Creative Labs suit) was to suggest the two companies once and for all sit down and thrash it out since it too could accuse Creative of misrepresentative advertising. The Register predicted the two parties would be more likely to end up thrashing it out physically, and it's hard not to see Aureal's new lawsuit as a direct response to Creative's (see Creative sues Aureal... again). And indeed: "We regard this latest move by Aureal as an obvious, by-the-book, defensive ploy -- an entirely predictable move given the recent rejection of Aureal's key defence in Creative's own long-standing patent case against Aureal," said John Danforth, Creative's VP and general counsel. ®

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