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Alcatel-Lucent faces LG and Apple in patent trial

Battle starts as technology giants argue over copyright infringements and royalty payments

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 November, 2012, 3:46am

Apple and LG Electronics infringed an Alcatel-Lucent unit's patents for electronic devices including phones and computers, a lawyer said at the start of a trial.

The jury trial, which began on Tuesday in federal court in San Diego, stems from a 2010 lawsuit by the Paris-based company's Multimedia Patent Trust accusing Apple and LG of copying video-compression technology that allows data to be sent more efficiently over communications media, including the internet and satellites, or stored on DVDs and Blu-ray discs.

"Apple and LG have chosen not to license these patents while 33 other companies have paid over US$190 million for these licences," Frederick Lorig, a lawyer for the patent trust, told the jury. He said the trust was unable to negotiate a licence with Apple "even though a company as prominent as Motorola is paying US$18 million to licence the patents. And Apple sells four times the number of infringing products that Motorola does".

The trust claims its patents are infringed by products including multiple versions of Apple's iPhone, iPod, iPad and MacBook, as well as LG's Chocolate Touch VX8575, Bliss UX700, Touch AX8575, Lotus Elite LX610, Mystique UN610 and Samba LG8575.

"The motion pictures you see on your screens are made possible by these patents," Lorig said. "This technology lets you download in half the time and store twice as much content."

Lawyers for Apple and LG Electronics told jurors that their companies had already paid the Multimedia Patent Trust for the technology covered by the patents from an industry-wide "pay-as-you-go" pool.

They said the trust is trying to broaden the scope of its intellectual property to cover new electronic advances in the allegedly infringing products based on technology that supersedes the patents.

"LG and Apple are not going to pay rent for technology they do not use," said Juanita Brooks, a lawyer for California-based Apple. "Why are we here in this trial? They are trying to get US$170 million from Apple. I can think of 170 million reasons they are asking us to pay more than all of the other licensees combined."

The Alcatel-Lucent patent trust said in court filings that it seeks a "reasonable royalty" based on what it would have been paid if a licensing agreement had been reached before the infringements began.

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