AT&T Preps for MPEG Battle

by , 10:40 AM EST, February 10th, 2006

AT&T is gearing up for a battle over claims that other companies, including Apple, are infringing on patents it holds on technologies used in the MPEG-4 media format. According to PC Magazine, AT&T is focusing on Apple Computer, CyberLink Corp., DivX Inc., InterVideo Inc., and Sonic Solutions, claiming that the companies have not paid for licenses to use its technology.

AT&T claims it has advised the companies of their patent infringements, and that it can back those claims up. Apple and the other companies, however, claim that they aren't aware of any notification from AT&T.

Although Apple does not comment on potential pending litigation, a spokesperson from Sonic Solutions stated "We believe that we have all necessary rights and licenses with respect to all of our products."

AT&T states that potential damages for the patent infringement include "AT&T's lost profits, royalties and, in the case of willful infringement, treble damages and attorneys fees and costs."

Apple uses MPEG-4 technology in the iPod, iTunes, and QuickTime. It is also common in other MP3 players, multimedia applications, and multimedia cell phones. If AT&T can prove that the companies are infringing on its patents, and collect licensing fees and damages, it stands to see a dramatic increase in profits.

AT&T spokesman Jason Hillary said "We're looking for ways to make sure others are able to take advantage of this technology and expand their capabilities and services by utilizing it, and at the same time we're able to get fair value back for the research and R&D expenses that go into developing it in the first place."