Apple sued for patent infringement over Apple TV

Apple Inc. has been sued for patent infringement by EZ4Media Inc., an Illinois maker of wireless set-top boxes in a lawsuit filed December 16, 2008 in Illinois Northern District Court (1:2008cv07192).

The company said Apple TV, AirPort Express, and Macintosh computers infringe on patents EZ4Media acquired from Universal Electronics Inc. in March.

EZ4Media says Apple was able to get at its technology by hiring former Universal Electronics employees Nick Kalayjian, Bruce Edwards, and Wendy Goh in the Q205 while it was developing Apple TV. Apple TV was unveiled on September 12, 2006 and began shipping on March 21, 2007.

EZ4Media is seeking damages and an injunction.

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


  1. If you read the original, very short article, there is one comment posted along with it and it makes a point that is hard to deny.

    “(1) Comments
    Jeff Houser December 19, 2008 12:03PM EST
    When you consider that Apple invented the set top mpeg hard drive system back in the early 90’s; I doubt it. And when you also figure that apples QuickTime technology is the root of almost all web video (it is the technology that made it possible, before all the other imitators), I really, really doubt it.”

  2. and in other news, it rained somewhere in the world today.

    It’s not like Apple TV isn’t going to get better and better… but,

    acquiring patents : 100,000 dollars
    bribing politicians : 100,000 dollars
    court administration fees : 1,000 dollars
    serving notice on the most famous tech company on the planet? : Priceless.

  3. I’ll never understand the patent law that allows lawsuits to be filed this late. Okay, so say Apple TV infringes. How the hell did it take them a year and half to figure it out? What, they didn’t recognize their own sh*t?


  4. The United States of America: true innovators need not apply, patent vultures rewarded instead.

    Apparently, you’re allowed to wait until the alleged patent infringer makes a decent load of money from their product, before tossing a lawsuit at them. Makes it nice for the vultures (easier to identify the targets with the best potential payout), but not so nice for the company which actually worked to make their product viable in the market.

    The patent system was originally envisioned as protecting true inventors and innovators. Sure doesn’t seem like that’s what it’s doing anymore.

  5. I’m with LordRobin, what were they waiting for? Unless they can show they had techs comparing the technologies and lawyers examining the details for the past year+, they ought not be allowed to sue. Guilty or not, if they can allow Apple to proceed for so long without notice being given, they can let the claim lapse. “Jeff Houser”s comments aside, the delay only shows the company’s desire for the extra cash generated by a more successful product. Those comments admitted into the hearing record will likely quash the suit outright.

  6. EZ4Media acquired the patents from Universal Electronics in March 2008. So this is a fairly speedy filing by the standards of the industry.

    However, Apply bought three Universal Electronics employees in Q2-05 and announced the AppleTV in September ’06. Where was Universal Electronics (the patent holder at the time) between Q2-05 and September ’06 and September ’06 and March ’08?

    I don’t think third parties should be allowed to buy lapsed patents and try to enforce them post facto. I also think patent purchasers should be bound by all licenses negotiated by previous holders of the patents. The intent of patents is to protect innovation and allow innovators to benefit from their innovation, not to provide get rich quick schemes independent of employing the innovation protected.

  7. I’m going to file a patent that allows you just to think about something and it appears before you. I have no idea how to do this or make it work but at least if anybody ever does figure it out I will be able to sue the pants off them.

  8. OK there claim among other things that Apple hired away there employees stealing there secrets that they bought the patents to two years later????

    I’m not sure what’s the bigger scam them suing Apple or the company that sold them the patents to the general concept of audio played over a network.

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