Apple Hit with Camera Patent Lawsuit

St Clair Intellectual Property Consultants is suing Apple over claims that the Mac and iPhone maker is infringing on patents it owns relating to digital still cameras. The company has a history of patent litigation, according to TG Daily, and Apple looks to be just the next target on the list.

Apple uses still digital cameras in the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G. The iPhone 3GS, iPod nano, and Mac computers all include digital cameras capable of capturing video.

St Clair Intellectual Property Consultants previously sued Sony in 2001 for infringing on the patents and was awarded US$25 million. In 2003, the company sued Canon, Casio, Seiko, Epson, Fuji Photo, Fujifilm, Kyocera, Minolta, Nikon, and Olympus. In 2004, Samsung, Matsushita, Victor, JVC, Nokia, HP and Eastman Kodak were all hit with lawsuits.

By 2006, St Clair Intellectual Property Consultants had slapped Siemens, BenQ, AUdiovox, UT Starcom, Sprint Nextel, Cingular, Verizon, Vodafone and Cellco with patent infringement suits, too. In 2008, RIM and General Imaging were added to the list.

Canon ended up paying the company over $34.7 million, and Fuji and Fujifilm paid over $3 million in damages. Many companies have since licensed the technology from St Clair, too.

Considering St Clair's track record in court so far, Apple may have a hard time sidestepping a big fine in this case.