MP3 players hit by patent infringement suit
Texas MP3 buys patent, immediately files suit
The world's major MP3 player manufacturers have been sued in a patent infringement case by a company that began the case the day after it acquired the patent.
Apple, Samsung and SanDisk have been sued by Texas MP3 Technologies which bought the US patent from two Korean inventors. The patent was originally lodged in 1997, was bought by Texas MP3 on 15 February this year, and the suit was filed on 16 February.
The patent makes broad claims saying it covers technology which is a "portable audio device suitable for reproducing MPEG encoded data includes a plurality of inputs, a data storage, a display, an audio output, at least one processor and a battery".
The claim has been filed in a Texas district court by the company, which operates out of a Texas post office box. Eastern Texas courts are regarded as being sympathetic to patent holders and are often the chosen forum for disputes.
The suit claims that the named companies wilfully violate the patents. Wilful violation carries a stiffer penalty than simple violation.
The patent was sold by SigmaTel to a patent licensing company last summer, though it is not clear whether or not that body was Texas MP3. Chief executive Ron Edgerton explained the company's rationale last July.
"We made this decision because this patent may require millions of dollars of legal fees to optimize its value, and otherwise would have required a significant amount of SigmaTel's management attention," he said. "SigmaTel's customers, however, will not have to worry about this patent being enforced against them, as SigmaTel has retained the necessary rights to protect its customers."
The case has come to light just days after Microsoft was ordered to pay $1.5bn in a separate MP3 patent case. Alcatel-Lucent had claimed that Microsoft's use of MP3 encoding technology violated patents it had long held in the area.
Microsoft said a licence it has from German firm Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft entitled it to incorporate MP3 encoding in its Windows operating system. Alcatel-Lucent claimed that its Bell Labs subsidiary owns patents on the technology.
Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com
OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
Can't help but think this is very sad... Can't make money doing something new, so they look for patents they could sue about. Sad losers.
It's hard not to laugh
So, the guys behind OGG Vorbis have been warning about this for years. A timely reminder of why OSS must be supported
Why haven't people been using patent unencumbered OGG all along? AFAIK sound quality is as good if not better.
If I look at the WO and EP equivalent I always wonder why the US patent system is so stupid. Everything is granted. No search for novelty whatso ever. If you read the opinion of the European Patent office, these guys will have a hard time getting it granted in Europe.
Look at this document:
I see at least 5 references to article 54(1) which says: "this is not new!!!"
The only people getting rich of this type of behaviour are the laywers.