Patent holder sues Apple over video compression technology

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A new lawsuit takes aim at nearly all of Apple's entire product line, alleging that products ranging from QuickTime to the Mac Pro violate patents related to video file compression.



The lawsuit was filed Monday by a patent holder named Multimedia Patent Trust in a U.S. District Court in the Southern District of California. Also named in the suit are Canon, LG, and TiVo.



The complaint cites four U.S. patents granted to a number of different inventors between 1990 and 1996. All four inventions granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are related to digital video compression techniques. The patents are:

U.S. Patent No. 4,958,226: "Conditional Motion Compensated Interpolation of Digital Motion Video"

U.S. Patent No. 5,136,377: "Adaptive Non-Linear Quantizer"

U.S. Patent No. 5,227,878: "Adaptive Coding and Decoding of Frames and Fields of Video"

U.S. Patent No. 5,500,678: "Optimized Scanning of Transform Coefficients in Video Coding"

Apple is specifically accused of violating the first three (the '226, '377 and '878 patents) with hardware it makes that plays video. In addition to hardware, the suit also names a number of Apple's software products, including Final Cut Studio, iTunes and iLife.



"These Apple products can encode and decode video in compliance with a variety of standards promulgated by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), including MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Part 2, and H.264," the complaint reads.



"The ability to encode and/or decode video images in these formats are included, via Apple's built-in QuickTime system, in Apple's laptop computers, desktop computers and other computing devices."



Multimedia Patent Trust states that it informed Apple of its alleged violations on March 15, 2007. It said that the Cupertino, Calif., company "refused to take a license and continues to infringe" on the patents.



Multimedia Patent Trust is attempting to convince the court that Apple should be entitled to pay a "reasonable royalty on all video-capable products sold by Apple that embody an apparatus claimed by those patents." It asserted that the company and its existing licensees have suffered "irreparable injury," for which the company is entitled to injunctive relief and damages.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 66
    I wonder if anyone else licenses this tech from them or if they are just patent trolls.



    Seems as though apple had enough time to come to an agreement with them... apprenlty they didn't think it was legitimate or it was cheaper to get sued
  • Reply 2 of 66
    It would be nice if there were a shorter term on these patents, to make it harder for something like this to become common place and then sue. No way they didn't treat this as an investment and wait until Apple got big.



    Or at least say you can't get damages for the past 10 years.



    My 2 cents.
  • Reply 3 of 66
    Who is Cannon and what do they make? I know who Canon is, but not Cannon.
  • Reply 4 of 66
    I assume that this is the Alcatel-Lucent spinoff, in which case they aren't precisely patent trolls of the ordinary sort. That said, I wonder about such old patents, and such a long wait between "informing" Apple and filing suit.
  • Reply 5 of 66
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,254member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fizzmaster View Post


    Who is Cannon and what do they make? I know who Canon is, but not Cannon.



    Balls?
  • Reply 6 of 66
    So how exactly does not getting paid for video compression patent cause "irreparable injury"?
  • Reply 7 of 66
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by artificialintel View Post


    I assume that this is the Alcatel-Lucent spinoff, in which case they aren't precisely patent trolls of the ordinary sort. That said, I wonder about such old patents, and such a long wait between "informing" Apple and filing suit.



    The only reason to take this long from notice to lawsuit is that they were waiting for the suit to be worth while. This is a business and back then there probably was not much money in suing.
  • Reply 8 of 66
    Just look at the company´s name! I wonder if they even have a physical establishment with real people working there, creating stuff that is.
  • Reply 9 of 66
    quinneyquinney Posts: 2,528member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fizzmaster View Post


    Who is Cannon and what do they make? I know who Canon is, but not Cannon.



  • Reply 10 of 66
    And here we GO ... again /sigh
  • Reply 11 of 66
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fizzmaster View Post


    Who is Cannon and what do they make? I know who Canon is, but not Cannon.



    Cannon Equipment makes dairy automation equipment. I don't really think they're infringing.
  • Reply 12 of 66
    bwikbwik Posts: 562member
    Sometimes it's hedge funds behind these degraded, irrelevant patent pools / distressed real estate bonds. They buy the patents cheap on the possibility that they can sue innovators and siphon money from the viable people who are creating things.
  • Reply 13 of 66
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 32,959member
    I don't understand why Apple, and other companies don't have small teams to find these patents and buy them before these other companies do. It would be much cheaper in the long run.
  • Reply 14 of 66
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross View Post


    I don't understand why Apple, and other companies don't have small teams to find these patents and buy them before these other companies do. It would be much cheaper in the long run.



    In the case of Apple their lawyers are forbidden to use Google Patent Search and the uspto site is impossible to navigate.
  • Reply 15 of 66
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 32,959member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    In the case of Apple their lawyers are forbidden to use Google Patent Search and the uspto site is impossible to navigate.



    Ok, that's funny, but it was a serious question.
  • Reply 16 of 66
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by artificialintel View Post


    I assume that this is the Alcatel-Lucent spinoff, in which case they aren't precisely patent trolls of the ordinary sort. That said, I wonder about such old patents, and such a long wait between "informing" Apple and filing suit.



    Yes, this is the spin-off group. A quick search reveals no physical home web address for the company, no actual trades or transactions in the last year, no executives listed, etc...



    This is a troll company with no intent to actually produce anything for the betterment of consumers or society. Instead, it sues other companies to get pay-offs. Another word that comes to mind is leech. I hope judges start seeing companies like this for what they are and stop these frivolous lawsuits from continuing.
  • Reply 17 of 66
    OK, I'm confused and maybe I don't understand what they are actually suing over, but....



    I always thought that the MPEGLA handled the licensing for all of these video technologies, and according to their site Apple is both a "Licensee" for all of these formats as well as a "Licensor" for a few of them.



    If the MPEGLA handles the Licensing of these compression technologies and Apple is listed as a licensee then what's going on?
  • Reply 18 of 66
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,012member
    Everybody is trying to get a piece of that $50 billion in cash Steve has squirreled away.
  • Reply 19 of 66
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member
    not sure if this applies here - but seems like this and many are cases where an idea should not be patented but the implementation of that idea.



    it is one thing if Apple came knocking and said may we use your code please and the patent holder said sure here ya go - that'll be $x per shipping unit (or whatever) and Apple said thanks for the tech but we are not paying - and something else entirely if Apple developed independently code that happened to perform a very similar without any knowledge of the other company's work or patent.
  • Reply 20 of 66
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 32,959member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JBracy View Post


    OK, I'm confused and maybe I don't understand what they are actually suing over, but....



    I always thought that the MPEGLA handled the licensing for all of these video technologies, and according to their site Apple is both a "Licensee" for all of these formats as well as a "Licensor" for a few of them.



    If the MPEGLA handles the Licensing of these compression technologies and Apple is listed as a licensee then what's going on?



    Just because one company sues another doesn't mean that they're right. I imagine over the next few days we'll know more about the patents involved. It's also interesting that at least one of these patents is already no longer in effect.
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