Apple Sued in Camera Patent Spat
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In many ways, Apple's high-flying success in recent years are owed to a great deal of innovation in its products, ranging from the Mac to OS X to, in more years, the iPhone. But as HardwareCentral reports, the Cupertino, Calif. computer maker is now facing a lawsuit over a key feature that's found its way into several product lines: a built-in camera.
Apple may not relish comparisons to archrival Microsoft, but it seems the bigger that both firms get, the more they're targets of litigation. The latest lawsuit to hit Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is from an outfit called St. Clair Intellectual Property Consultants.
St. Clair acquired the digital camera patents and technology in 1995 from failed Personal Computer Cameras. Since then, it's sued Canon, Nikon, Sony and others over several of the camera-related patents it controls -- including patent No. 5,138,459, entitled "Electronic Still Camera with Direct Personal Computer."
Many of those efforts proved successful for the firm: In 2003, it collected $35 million from Canon, on top of a $25 million judgment in 2001 from Sony. St. Clair also cut licensing deals with a number of firms.
Now, the "Electronic Still Camera" patent is again at the heart of its lawsuit against Apple, in which it claims the iPhone and Mac maker also violates other, digital camera-related patents it also owns.