updated 01:40 pm EST, Tue December 21, 2010
Alcatel sues Apple, Canon, LG, TiVo over videos
Alcatel-Lucent's patent holding group Multimedia Patent Trust on Monday sued Apple, Canon, LG and TiVo for allegedly violating patents on AT&T video codecs. The Southern District of California complaint accused the companies of violating as many as four patents with their hardware and software. Virtually all Apple devices and software are allegedly copying the patents, including its Mac line, Final Cut apps, iLife, QuickTime and most iPads, iPhones and iPods.
Canon's Vixia camcorders and use of Roxio's MyDVD were similarly targeted, as well as 64 LG phones and the brunt of TiVo's DVRs and desktop apps. Unusually, the lawsuit included very recent LG phones like the Android-based Optimus series but exempted Windows Phone 7 hardware such as the LG Optimus 7. It's believed a decision with Microsoft over a similar lawsuit may have covered any patent disputes.
The patents cover encoding and decoding techniques for video that were passed on to Alcatel-Lucent when Lucent was bought out.
It's uncertain whether the Multimedia Patent Trust case will succeed. Unlike most such patent cases, two of the patents have already expired and thus might not be enforceable. MPEG-LA, the standards group for formats such as MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and H.264, also landed a settlement against Alcatel-Lucent in its favor that may have ruled the codecs were essential to an industry standard and might not be used against other companies in a patent complaint. The lawsuit insists that the patents aren't fundamental.
None of the involved companies have yet to comment, but Apple may have the best chance of either winning the case or avoiding any legal risks since half the patent claims may be rendered invalid. [via Florian Mueller]