Sagem sued for MPEG infringement

Several leading electronics companies have filed suit in Düsseldorf, Germany against SAGEM for infringing eleven patents that are essential to the MPEG-2 digital video compression standard.

Several leading electronics companies have filed suit in Düsseldorf, Germany against Sagem Société d’Applications Générales d’Electricité et de Mécanique (SAGEM) for infringing eleven patents that are essential to the MPEG-2 digital video compression standard, which is used worldwide in digital television broadcasting and DVD.

Included among the plaintiffs are Matsushita Electric Industrial, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Koninklijke Philips Electronics, Sony Corporation, Thomson Licensing, and the Victor Company of Japan (JVC).

According to the complaint, SAGEM manufactures and markets set-top boxes that use patent-protected MPEG-2 methods and devices without having entered into licenses with the individual patent holders or a portfolio license that includes these patents offered by MPEG LA, the MPEG technology licensing group.

In its advertising and promotion, SAGEM touts the benefit of its products for their compatibility with the MPEG-2 standard.

“SAGEM’s refusal to take a license from these individual patent holders or from MPEG LA that would put an end to its patent infringement has made this lawsuit necessary,” said Baryn S. Futa, Manager and Chief Executive Officer of MPEG LA.

“For almost 7 years, MPEG LA and essential MPEG-2 patent holders have separately offered SAGEM a license, but SAGEM has ignored its duties in regard to the responsible use of intellectual property. This is unfair to patent holders without whom this technology would not be possible and to those more than 700 licensees, which include most of the world’s MPEG-2 set-top box makers, who are licensed and meeting their intellectual property obligations. SAGEM must be held accountable.”

The suit seeks, among other things, monetary damages and an injunction prohibiting SAGEM from using MPEG-2 patents in its products and from offering, marketing, or importing them.

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