Dolby Labs has launched a legal case against RIM over the company's use of high-efficiency advanced audio coding (HE AAC) technology in the BlackBerry and PlayBook lines.
The suit claims that Apple, HTC, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson have all bought licences for the technology, which allows audio to be compressed up to 19 times as efficiently as a CD, but that RIM is holding out.
"Unlike virtually all of its competitors, RIM refuses to 'play fair' and has rejected numerous opportunities to licence the patented inventions at issue in the case," the court papers state.
"In fact, RIM stands virtually alone among major manufacturers of smartphones, and competes unfairly in marketing products that benefit from using the HE AAC standards while refusing to pay royalties."
RIM is not only selling devices that use HD AAC, but is advertising the capability to customers and encouraging its developers to use the technology in its products, the complaint states.
Dolby is asking the court to place an injunction on RIM which would stop the company selling any smartphones or tablets that use HD AAC, which covers almost all of RIM's current smartphone and tablet range. Dolby has also asked for triple the usual damages and legal fees.
Via Licensing Corp, the body handling Dolby's patents, contacted RIM in November 2006 regarding the patent infringement, and negotiations have continued for the past five years. However, Dolby now feels that it has no further choice in the matter.
"Most likely, the only question is how much RIM will have to pay," Florian Müller, founder of the No Software Patents organisation, told V3.co.uk.
"Maybe RIM thought it could get a better deal by negotiating very hard, but this may backfire. If Dolby's averment that virtually all other major smartphone makers are already paying is true, RIM may have to pay a price for its refusal to sign a deal on Dolby's proposed terms."
A RIM spokesperson told V3.co.uk that the company does not comment on ongoing legal matters.
Dolby had not responded to requests for information at time of going to press.
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