Over the last decade, Apple has done an incredible job in making its name synonymous to great mp3 players, smartphones, and tablets. The last couple of years have seen its sphere of influence extend beyond just making brilliant electronic products though – it has become a constant participant in patent infringement cases, and is fighting numerous patent lawsuits in the courts.
The Samsung vs Apple battle has grabbed all the headlines for weeks now, with constant verbal and legal jousts being the order of the day, everyday.
Now, Apple is being accused by EPL Holdings of infringing a media playback patent from back in 2002 that allows video and audio playback in Apple devices to be played at varying speeds.
According to The Next Web:
“In a document filed with the US District Court for the Northern District of California, EPL states that on January 28, 2002, it met with Apple employee Tony Fadell (SVP of Apple’s iPod division) to discuss the technologies EPL and its predecessor Enounce Inc. had developed.
According to the filing, after the two parties met on February 5, 2002 to discuss licensing of the patents, Enounce and Apple entered into a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), which expired on February 6, 2006. Discussions centered on US patent numbers 5,175,769 (’769 patent) and 7,683,903 (’903 patent), technology that allows media content to be played back at faster and slower speeds.”
A senior manager in Apple’s iPod division was apparently interested in EPL Holdings’ ’769 patent, but EPL were only offered $50,000 – a valuation that was ‘woefully short’ of the patent’s true value, according to the company.
Apple’s iPad and iPhone have been specifically mentioned to be some of the (unlawful) beneficiaries of EPL’s patents, and have helped Apple earn billions in revenue every other quarter. Moreover, EPL has made it a point to specify the promotional material for QuickTime as well. The proprietary Apple software has a clear mention of QuickTime’s ability to play media at varying speeds, reinforcing EPL Holdings’ allegations.
If the meeting between the iPod division heads and those of EPL Holdings did indeed take place, then Apple may just have a tougher time at swatting away these allegations compared to other times. Only time will tell whether it emerges unscathed from this suit too.