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Dolby wins licensing fees on BlackBerry, PlayBook

Lawyers successful in $15m RIM job

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Dolby Laboratories has scored in the patent wars, winning "standard terms" from Research in Motion in two lawsuits over use of audio technologies.

RIM, maker of BlackBerrys and PlayBooks, will now pay licensing fees to Dolby, the company said, without disclosing the financial details of the arrangement. However, Dolby told analysts in a conference call last month it was looking at around $15m in back royalties from RIM, as well as interest income, according to Bloomberg.

"We are pleased to welcome RIM into Dolby's family of mobile technology licensees," Andy Sherman, executive VP and general counsel at Dolby, said in a statement. "We believe in and will continue to protect the value of our intellectual property."

Dolby had filed suit against RIM in the US and Germany in June over patents that cover High Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding, which allows quality playback of digital audio files that have been compressed to less than ten percent of their original size. Dolby said the standard was widely used in smartphones, music players, PCs and tablets and was being used without licence by RIM in its BlackBerrys and PlayBook.

The suits were dismissed in federal court in San Francisco today, after RIM signed a licensing agreement shortly after they were filed.

Dolby makes most of its money from licensing of its audio technologies to consumer electronics companies, including smartphone-makers like Apple, Nokia and Samsung. In the third quarter this year, its licensing revenue of $181m was around 83 per cent of total revenue.

The patent wars in the lucrative smartphone market are reaching almost comic proportions, with big players like Apple and Samsung suing and counter-suing for all they're worth. The atmosphere of litigation has also been hitting app developers working with iPhones and Android handsets, despite the big boys trying to help them out. ®

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