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Apple sued over infringement of camera tech patents

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.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. lkrupp

    Junior Member

    Joined: May 2001

    +8

    He we go again...

    What a way to make a living.

  1. aristotles

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Jul 2004

    +7

    How can there be damages?

    That company does not produce anything. They only sue other companies for money.

  1. Zanziboy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2008

    +7

    The Patent is Too General...

    ...and should be overturned. Hooking a camera to a computer is a patent? Give me a break! What is the definition of a computer? Any digital camera has processing and could be called a computer. Therefore, the patent also covers another patent, which is for digital cameras. Stupid.

  1. dliup

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2006

    +8

    Prior Art?

    What happens to prior art?

    Apple QuickTake Digital Camera was launched in 1994.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -2

    Re: How can there be damages

    Damages are due to not receiving rightful licensing moneys for use of their patent. One doesn't need to develop a product with their patent. They can license it to others to make the product (which could be one manufacturer or all).

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -2

    The patent

    The Patent is Too General...
    ...and should be overturned. Hooking a camera to a computer is a patent? Give me a break!


    Where did you get the idea that is the patent (unless you read the patent - and if you have, provide the link). The patent title reads "...Direct Personal Computer (PC) Compatible Digital Format Output,". It isn't talking of connecting it. Just that it outputs directly a PC compatible format. One would argue that a camera spitting out RAW format wouldn't be liable, for example.

    Prior Art?
    What happens to prior art?

    Apple QuickTake Digital Camera was launched in 1994.


    And what format did it spit out? And how does it equate to the patent in question?

    The problem Apple is going to have here is that this is NOT just some fly-by-nighter with a patent hoping to make a few bucks. They're an established patent troll with This is a company that has several judgements for it in court, and is suing a boatload of other companies.

    And they've had the patent re-affirmed by the USPTO.

  1. climacs

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Sep 2001

    -1

    for once Testudo is right

    somebody found a golden goose and they've successfully shaken down other companies for millions, so scoff all you want but I think I could sleep well at night if I could have gotten in on that action.

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