THX Sues Apple for Misuse of Speaker Tech Patent

Apple has received its latest lawsuit, this time from George Lucas’ sound innovation company THX. The case, which is filed in the Northern District of California court last week, claims that Apple’s various mobile devices (iPhone, iPad) and its iMacs infringe on THX’s single speaker patent.

THX’s U.S. Patent No. 7,433,483, formally called “Narrow profile speaker configurations and systems,” describes methods to enhance audio quality in compact speaker arrangements common in consumer electronics like computers and televisions. The company seeks royalties or damages to Apple to make up for lost profit.

The patent provides solutions in delivering quality audio from a speaker disposed in a confined area, particularly the use of a narrower speaker duct (in contrast to the speaker face) positioned at a right angle in relation to the speaker itself. The lawsuit points out to various iPhone models from the 4S onward, as well as unnamed versions of the iPad and iMac, as infringing to the complainant’s patent.

Apple has yet to comment on the issue, but the company also owns several speaker-centric patents, including those that can be implemented in portable devices. Some of these sound technology patents pre-date the THX’s ‘483 property, which was approved in 2008.

The Cupertino company has until May 14th to meet and confer with THX lawyers and the court regarding initial disclosure, as well as the possibility of an early settlement among others.

Source: Bloomberg, via Apple Insider
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