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Apple, Samsung sued over MP3 player patent

updated 09:20 am EST, Mon February 26, 2007

MP3 player patent lawsuit

Apple, Samsung, and Sandisk are being sued over a patent covering 'an MPEG portable sound reproducing system', according to a new report. Texas MP3 Technologies has filed a patent suit in Marshall, Texas alleging that the three companies infringe on its patent, but appears to have chosen that particular venue because of its plaintiff-friendly history: "The eastern Texas city is fast becoming one of the leading locations of patent infringement lawsuits in the U.S. thanks to speedy trials and juries that more often than not find in favor of the plaintiff," the report said. The complaint specifically cites US patent 7,065,417, which was awarded in June 2006 to multimedia chip-maker SigmaTel and sold the US rights to the patent a little over a month ago. Apple's media player products have used both SigmaTel and Samsung multimedia decoding processors.

Apple's second-generation iPod shuffle is said to use a Samsung decoding processor for its multimedia functions, rather than the expected SigmaTel chip which Apple has used within its first-generation iPod shuffle since its introduction in January of 2005. SigmaTel is hoping to win bigger contracts from Apple in the second half of 2007, despite at least one analyst's doubts about whether the company can even hold existing business.

The media player patent in question covers "an MPEG portable sound reproducing system and a method for reproducing sound data compressed using the MPEG method," according to IDG News Service. It is unclear whether the Dallas, Texas-based company acquired the rights directly from SigmaTel or purchased the rights from a third-party intermediary, but the company said the basic patent covers most player devies.

"Because these are such basic patents to digital music, we believe it will be difficult to design around these patents and have a commercially viable player," SigmaTel said in a statement when it announced the sale of the patent.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of last week's record $1.5 billion MP3 patent verdict against Microsoft, which could also potentially affect other companies, such as Apple, which uses similar MP3 decoding technologies in its iTunes software.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    microsoft wishes

    someone would sue them over their Zzzzzzzzzzune player, instead of ignoring it...

  1. ClockNova

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Utter lunacy

    Yet further proof that the U.S. Patent system is completely and utterly broken.

    And, of course, the best time to file suit is not immediately after said product is released, but years later, after it has had time to become highly profitable. This suit should be tossed out of court. If Apple loses, they should refuse to acknowledge it. Dare anyone to do anything about it. No one can.

  1. ralphdaily

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Apple has a problem

    Marshall, TX has made returning big verdicts a local industry. Apple is in trouble on this one.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    who cares?

    Frankly, I could care less about mp3 compression. Lossless compression is where digital audio is going and any lossy format will be dead within a few years at most.

    This strikes me as a last ditch effort to squeeze some revenue out of a dying technology. Perhaps this will force the iTS to go with lossless compressed music instead of mp3; that would definitely increase my interest in purchasing online music...

  1. vasic

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Rebel without a clue!

    The last post from 'guest' seems to be quite uninformed. Anybody who even on the sidelines is observing technology can see that MP3 format is not going anywhere anytime soon. It is by fast the most popular of all audio formats out there (followed by WMA and ACC - none lossless!). There are absolutely no benefits for content creators from releasing lossless formats. Neither are there any for consumers (MP3, AAC and WMA at 128kbits sound the same as WAV/AIFF - especially on portable earbuds!). There were numerous studies by professional musicians and audio engineers. The compressed file formats are ideal for music distribution.

    As for it(M)S (iTunes Store), it never sold any music in MP3 format anyway (it's AAC with FairPlay), so Apple isn't worried (except for MP3 in iPod).

  1. jarod

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Death to MS

    Anything to destroy Microshit and to hang Billy Goat and Steve Baldhead by the balls in a blessing. This suit against Apple will simply fizzle out; cuz Apple don't steal.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: ms wishes

    Isn't this the same group that just won a big award against MS last week?

    As to 'guest', Frankly, I could care less about mp3 compression. Lossless compression is where digital audio is going and any lossy format will be dead within a few years at most.

    That's nice. But please consider that lossless compression is also a compression scheme and could end up in the same situation down the road. Just because its lossless doesn't mean someone's not going to claim a patent on the algorithm.

    Oh, and its nice how Apple's got their own lossless compression scheme (which doesn't make it immune from attack), so when we all switch from defacto MP3 to lossless, everyone's going to have different schemes and no one will be compatable.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    vasic and jarod

    As for it(M)S (iTunes Store), it never sold any music in MP3 format anyway (it's AAC with FairPlay), so Apple isn't worried (except for MP3 in iPod).

    To say Apple isn't worried because it 'only' covers the ipod is being a little loose there. Apple makes a TON of money from iPod sales. If they're using infringing products in it, they could end up losing a TON of money from each of those sales.

    This suit against Apple will simply fizzle out; cuz Apple don't steal.

    Right. And who exactly was that backdating options for uppermanagement?

    BTW, its widely known that pretty much every big civil case is brought to a court that the plaintiff has the best hopes of winning at. That's why lots of them end up being filed in states where no one involved seems to have any holdings. At least this "company" is "based" in Texas (or has the name "Texas" in its company's name).

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: rebel without a clue

    "Neither are there any for consumers (MP3, AAC and WMA at 128kbits sound the same as WAV/AIFF - especially on portable earbuds!)"

    That is completely false - there are poor quality and good quality earbuds. But this isn't about iPods or earbuds - it's about the MP3 format that can be used anywhere - like at home on a quality stereo system. MP3, AAC, and WMA at 128kbits do not sound the same as WAV/AIFF.

  1. sehix

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    re vasic...

    "This suit against Apple will simply fizzle out; cuz Apple don't steal.

    Right. And who exactly was that backdating options for uppermanagement? "

    Ignoring, naturally, the fact that backdating wasn't illegal at the time (and isn't now, for that matter, as long as it's reported properly), since S-O hadn't been passed.

    This moderately amusing, if idiotic, equating of theft with backdating doesn't exactly leave you covered in glory.

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