Apart from companies that decided, for different reasons, to take a license from Sisvel (some of them not because they really believed they needed one, but to avoid further harassment by Sisvel) other big names in the mp3 world have decided to take off the gloves. Apple, Creative Labs, SanDisk, Sony Ericsson, to name a few.
Sisvel acts as His Master’s Voice of Philips & Co. They own no patents nor do they have any assets to speak of. Sisvel simply acts as a decoy for the real right owners who, by using Sisvel as their agent, stay out of the loop when confronted with counterclaims from the companies they assert their licensed rights against. Sisvel does so in a unusual manner. Unusual in its aggressiveness and methods. First shoot then talk, we don’t take prisoners.
Legal battles are going on, despite licensing successes by Sisvel. In Germany, UK and Netherlands, several court cases are pending as they are in the US. Unlike what Sisvel tries to make us believe in press releases and on their website, things are not looking pretty for them. The first decision by a German Court (in Mannheim) was all but favorable to Sisvel. They requested an injunction based on a complete misrepresentation of the ISO/IEC standard (the industry standard that covers most mp3 players) but the court is not yet convinced they have a case. The judge wants the parties to provide more detailed information to the court on the invalidity arguments that are being brought (by Thomson of France) in a case before the German Bundespatentgericht (the only court in Germany can invalidate a patent in Germany). The fate of the Thomson case remains uncertain as Thomson recently announced to take a license. Gossip goes that that was because management no longer wants the legal hassling on this issue, which takes lot of resources from the company.
In the UK CreativeLabs have initiated a court proceeding against Sisvel, basically requesting the court to dismiss the ludicrous reasoning that anyone having a mp3 player or functionality must use the patents of Philips & Co, as they are “essential patents” to the ISO/IEC standard 11172-3 (part 3- audio) of March 1993. Wrong, as is shown in a letter from the ISO/IEC Director of the “Standards Department of ISO Central Secretariat” of August 2001. The ISO repeats its mantra, declarations of patents are not being checked by the ISO nor their applicability to the standard. Any claim to the contrary, like the Sisvel claim in various courts, is therefore ill-founded.
To be continued