updated 05:20 pm EST, Tue February 7, 2012
Smart Audio aims to profit from others' audio work
Mostly unknown Smart Audio Technologies has hoped to skim profits from the audio industry after filing a low-key lawsuit late last week that was publicized Tuesday. The Delaware-based complaint accuses Apple, Creative Labs, and Philips of violating the same February 2001-era patent for car audio system with a random access player that supports playlists. Smart Audio isn't clear what products are violating its technology, although iOS and iPod devices are possible candidates.
The brief lawsuit, as with most, argues that Smart Audio will be "greatly and irreparably harmed" if the alleged products stay on sale. It wants a permanent ban on sales and unspecified damages.
Some of the companies may be able to point to prior art, such as Rio's MP3 players.
While filed in Delaware, a state normally chosen for major companies engaging in trade disputes, signs exist in the case of a traditional patent troll case. Smart Audio is an LLC and unlikely to have produced anything on its own; the patent was acquired from Delco rather than invented. The company is also based out of Tyler in Texas, a town where many patents-only companies often sue with the knowledge that the local courts tend to favor their views. Why it moved the case to Delaware wasn't evident.