SanDisk players seized by German officials over MP3 licensing dispute

Apple Store“Electronics manufacturer SanDisk is facing a legal fight over its use of popular MP3 compression technology,” BBC News reports.

“German officials seized MP3 players from SanDisk’s booth at the IFA show in Berlin after an Italian patents firm won an injunction against the company,” The Beeb reports. “Italian patents company Sisvel alleges that SanDisk refuses to pay licensing fees it needs to playback MP3 files. SanDisk also faces a lawsuit brought by Sisvel in a German court, but denies that its products infringe patents.”

“SanDisk has recently launched new MP3 players based on flash memory, with capacities of up to 8GB, in an attempt to challenge the dominance of Apple’s iPod nano,” The Beeb reports. “But a raft of new products were removed from the company’s stand at the IFA show in Berlin after Sisvel applied for an injunction, Sisvel told the BBC News website.”

“According to Giustino de Sanctis, head of Sisvel’s US-based subsidiary Audio MPEG, SanDisk’s refusal to purchase an MP3 licence leaves them out of step with some 600 other manufacturers and software developers,” The Beeb reports, “Mr de Sanctis said the fact that SanDisk players were able to play MP3 files meant the company was legally required to purchase a licence. ‘It is just not possible to do it any other way,’ he said. Mr de Sanctis said the Berlin criminal court issued an injunction against SanDisk and officials visited the company’s booth at the IFA show to seize and remove MP3 players. ‘We are not getting anywhere with them,’ Mr de Sanctis said, explaining the decision to apply for an injunction. ‘We have 600 licensees and we have to protect their rights, and the rights of the patent holders,’ he added.”

The Beeb reports, “In a statement, SanDisk confirmed it is facing legal action in a court in Mannheim, Germany – a separate action also brought by Sisvel – but defended its audio technology. ‘SanDisk is showing that its MP3 players operate a technology which is completely different from a certain audio data transmission and reception techniques that has been patented for Philips and others many years ago.'”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “AWidgetIHaveNot” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
The Motley Fool: SanDisk’s new MP3 players vs. Apple iPod juggernaut – August 22, 2006
SanDisk intros 8GB flash-based digital music player – August 21, 2006
NPD: Apple retains huge lead with 75.6% share of U.S. music player market – August 17, 2006
SanDisk’s iDont campaign takes on Apple iPod – May 22, 2006
SanDisk marketing exec: ‘Australians are blindly paying for iPods’ – March 20, 2006
SanDisk CEO: Apple has ‘a closed, proprietary system’ – March 13, 2006
SanDisk exec on competing with iPod: ‘Apple has always been happy with 2-3 percent of the market’ – February 28, 2006
SanDisk quietly becomes distant No. 2 to Apple in U.S. digital music player sales – February 09, 2006
Apple’s vs. Microsoft’s music DRM: whose solution supports more users? – August 17, 2005

8 Comments

  1. Hmmmmm, It will be interesting to see if they can prove that they use a new technology to decode mp3 files.

    Actually incoding the mp3 may be licence-able, but I am not sure about playing the file. Just like the design of how to build a car may be patentable, but driving the car is not a patent thing.

    JMHO.

    N.

  2. Let me tell you how it will be;
    There’s one for you, nineteen for me.
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the taxman.

    Should five per cent appear too small,
    Be thankful I don’t take it all.
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the taxman.

    -Beatles

  3. I, too, would be interested to know if both the encoding and decoding device (software) require licensing. If so, it is interesting that the #2 manufacturer of MP3 devices has been selling all this time without a valid license.

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