updated 12:10 am EDT, Tue April 29, 2008
Dock connector lawsuit?
Apple has been sued by yet another company claiming that it infringed on a patent through components found in the immensely popular iPod media player. Filed last week in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of inventor Henry Milan by Detroit-based law firm Butzel Long, it claims that Apple violated a hardware-based patent in its connecting mechanism in the two different media players. The firm argues a violation of U.S. patent No. 6,991,483, which was filed on Nov, 12, 2004, and issued on Jan. 31, 2006, almost five months after launched the iPod nano and six weeks after Apple was contacted about alleged infringement. The patent describes a connector that combines a Flash memory drive and a connection port in a single unit that be made to a variety devices using various adapters.
Interestingly, the iPhone is not cited in the complaint, although it was introduced before the iPod touch and uses a similar single unit design for the Flash memory drive connector, according to Information Week. In addition, the report notes that the lawsuit may have been meant, in part, to precipitate licensing discussions.
"They've been very slow in responding," Butzel Long representatives told the publication. "While the iPhone is not listed in the initial complaint, it's possible that the suit could be expanded to cover the iPhone," he continued.
According to the report, the lawsuit seeks damages for willful infringement and an injunction against the sale of the iPod nano and Touch, although the lawyers apparently backpedaled on the possibility of halting current sales, as the firm was not yet sure whether it would ultimately seek an injunction.