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Lawsuit accuses Apple, Dell, HTC of infringing MP3-related patent

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
A lawsuit filed this week accuses a number of major electronics companies, including Apple, of violating a patent related to playback of MP3 files.

Hybrid Audio is the owner of U.S. Patent No. RE40,281, entitled "Signal Processing Utilizing a Tree-Structured Array." Reissued in 2008, it describes "signal processing" that is accomplished by "splitting a signal into subbands using a plurality of filter banks connected to form a tree-structured array."

The application references "audio signals," but makes no mention of MP3 files or the MPEG-1 Layer III standard. But the lawsuit targets Apple, HTC and Dell for creating devices that allow playback of MP3 files.

Specifically named in the complaint are a number of Apple products, including the iPod nano, iPhone 4, iPad, MacBook Pro, and iTunes software. The suit targets products "that contain or use hardware and/or software for processing audio information in accordance with the MPEG-1 Layer III (MP3) standard."

Other products named include the HTC Evo 4G smartphone, and a number of computers from Dell including Inspiron, Studio, Alienware, Adamo and XPS.



Little about Hybrid Audio LLC can be found online, but the patent was first filed in 1997 by a Massachusetts company called "Aware, Inc." Hybrid Audio seeks damages from the companies it is suing, and asserts that they are infringing, contributing to infringement, and inducing infringement of the '281 patent.
post #2 of 12
and a merry christmas to all!

why are these suits coming out now? Is there some advantage to announcing them while the lawyers and judges are likely out of the office?
post #3 of 12
We'll see where this goes.
post #4 of 12
That's right, let's have the government spend hundreds of thousands of dollars so this company no one has ever heard of can litigate against other companies that already licence the audio codec's from a third well-known company.
post #5 of 12
Guilty!
post #6 of 12
Can you say patent reform? This is ridiculous and needs to be addressed. These patent trolls wait until companies become successful to strike. How long has the MP3 format been around? And you are waiting until now? I think there needs to be a moratorium on how long you can wait to address a patent suit.
post #7 of 12
Interesting... When Google released the WebM media container and related codecs, critics were quick to point out, one fatal flaw was the lack of an indemnification clause in the patenting license, which would have been necessary to protect prospective Google licensees from damages due to possible 3rd parties who might hold previously unknown patents related to the technology.

Clearly, even other more "established" and "mainstream" media codecs, and their existing well-known patent license pools, are also prone to such a lack of indemnity protections.
post #8 of 12
Who doesn't want a slice of Apple's wad of cash? I might register a patent on rubbing my finger on a glass surface and sue Apple once I get it.

Haven't MP3 files been played on computers since the mid 90s? Their patent goes back to 97 and MP3 is 95. Good luck to them!
post #9 of 12
someone is going to be suing Apple et all in the eastern District of Texas for patent infringement for building computers for gawds sake.

Or for using aluminum. Maybe even the english language?

I wonder just much the Eastern District of Texas makes on meaningless frivolous lawsuits. Court costs are court costs to a court. No matter who pays them. They must have quite the profitable racket going. All in the name of justice of course.

This is just ridiculous.
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

A lawsuit filed this week accuses a number of major electronics companies, including Apple, of violating a patent related to playback of MP3 files.

Hybrid Audio is the owner of U.S. Patent No. RE40,281, entitled "Signal Processing Utilizing a Tree-Structured Array." Reissued in 2008, it describes "signal processing" that is accomplished by "splitting a signal into subbands using a plurality of filter banks connected to form a tree-structured array."

The application references "audio signals," but makes no mention of MP3 files or the MPEG-1 Layer III standard. But the lawsuit targets Apple, HTC and Dell for creating devices that allow playback of MP3 files.

Little about Hybrid Audio LLC can be found online, but the patent was first filed in 1997 by a Massachusetts company called "Aware, Inc." Hybrid Audio seeks damages from the companies it is suing, and asserts that they are infringing, contributing to infringement, and inducing infringement of the '281 patent.

Wow, the original patent was all about "inventing" sending data over a communication link. So original.

Now it is amended to include trying to claim they invented or improved on audio decoding. Wow, suing people for a standard finalized in 1993 then suing for it in 2010.

So, no suing the makers of the actual DSP chips that actually do the infringing, no suing whoever Alcatel spun off with all the mp3 patents, no suing Fraunhofer, not suing Google for Android or Microsoft for their respective software players on their hardware, but let's sue Dell and HTC and Apple.

Just try understanding the stupid 121 claims in it. I bet the patent examiner just said, "Oh fuck it, I'll just grant it."
post #11 of 12
What needs to happen is a law put into place that states if you file a frivolous suit against another company and lose, you are responsible for their legal fees and any damages that they have taken on due to the lawsuit. That will fix their little red wagons...
post #12 of 12
Aware Inc is an MIT spin-off that has been working on audio, video and data compression since the mid-80's. One of the principal developers was DSP guru John Stautner. They really made their nut licensing DSL algorithms to telco manufacturers. Fraunhofer and Aware worked on compressed audio signal coding in parallel with many other companies including AT&T (Bell Labs), Sony, Dolby, etc.
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