updated 05:40 pm EDT, Wed October 28, 2009
Sony, Canon forced to pay millions over same IP
A lawsuit filed by St. Clair Intellectual Property Consultants has targeted Apple for allegedly using camera technology protected by several patents. The four patents, each relating to digital camera systems, were originally issued to a company named Personal Computer Cameras, although St. Clair purchased the technology between 1995 and 2001.
The "'459 patent," "'219 patent," and "'010 patent" hold the title "Electronic Still Video Camera with Direct Personal Computer (PC) Compatible Digital Format Output," while the "'899 patent" is entitled "Process for Use in Electronic Camera."
Soon after finishing its acquisition of the patents, St. Clair in 2001 filed an infringement suit against Sony. The jury reportedly awarded the patent holder $25 million in damages. A similar suit aimed at Canon lead to over $34 million in damages, while Fuji was forced to pay $3 million.
"The infringement by Apple of the patents-in-suit has injured St. Clair and will cause St. Clair added irreparable injury and damage in the future unless Apple is enjoined from infringing the patents-in-suit," the filing reads. The patent holder is seeking damages to compensate for infringement, along with attorneys fees and an order to prevent further violation of the protected technology.
St. Clair cites a long list of prior and ongoing legal action against a wide range of companies including RIM, Polaroid, Verizon, Sanyo, Palm, Motorola, LG, Sprint, BenQ and Sprint, among others. Many of the targeted companies, such as LG and Samsung, have opted to negotiate licensing terms.
Apples approach to the legal dispute remains unknown, although Sony already attempted to have the patent claims reexamined. The USPTO, however, confirmed the patentability of all claims and sided with St. Clair.