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Monday, February 26, 2007, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

Apple, Samsung, Sandisk sued over MP3 patent

Apple Inc. is among a handful of digital music player manufacturers that are being sued by a little-known Texas firm for infringement on an MP3-related patent.

The suit, according to InfoWorld, was filed on Feb. 16 in Marshall, Texas — an eastern Texas city emerging as a favorite amongst plaintiffs in patent infringement lawsuits due to its speedy trials and favorable rulings.

In the complaint, Texas MP3 Technologies alleges that Apple, Samsung, and Sandisk are infringing on U.S. patent 7,065,417, which was awarded in June 2006 to former iPod chip-maker SigmaTel and covers "an MPEG portable sound reproducing system and a method for reproducing sound data compressed using the MPEG method."

It's reported that SigmaTel flipped the patent to a Dallas, Texas-based patent licensing agency shortly after receiving rights because it felt the agency was better served to capitalize on its value potential.

"Because these are such basic patents to digital music, we believe it will be difficult to design around these patents and have a commercially viable player," SigmaTel said in a statement at the time.

InfoWorld notes that it is unclear whether Texas MP3 Technologies is the Dallas-based company that bought the patents from SigmaTel or whether it acquired them from somewhere else.