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Tuesday, September 04, 2007, 03:30 pm PT (06:30 pm ET)

Apple hit with video encoding and iPhone battery lawsuits

A new complaint charges Apple, Inc. and a slew of other computer makers with violating a patent on encoding video to disk. Also, yet another lawsuit has been filed against the company accusing it of misleading customers about the costs of replacing the iPhone's battery.

MedioStream sues over video encoding patent

Filed last Tuesday in a Marshall, Texas district court known to side with plaintiffs in patent disputes, a seven-page suit from California-based MedioStream charges Apple as well as Acer, Dell, and Gateway with treading on a 2006 patent for a "method and system for direct recording of video information onto a disk medium."

In each case, the production of Apple's entire computer line — including its "Mini Macs" — is purportedly by itself a violation of the patent, which describes a simple process of accepting uncompress video, applying the user's preferred resizing and compression methods, and generating a resulting digital video stream that fits a particular TV standard. The remaining system designers are equally accused, though the software needed to perform the encoding isn't mentioned in the complaint.

MedioStream's attorneys in both California and Texas allege that the sale of any of these computers has caused damage to their client's business and that a jury trial is needed to bar the PC builders from further infringement as well as to demand compensation for perceived damages.

Third lawsuit arises over iPhone battery replacements

In what may be the clear sign of an emerging trend, a second suit filed this past Wednesday in California's northern district alleges that Apple and AT&T knowingly withheld information about the iPhone's true battery replacement costs until after the June 29th launch, effectively misleading some customers into buying the device when they would have otherwise refrained.

Similar to the circumstances surrounding the first and second complaints filed in recent weeks, the plaintiffs Mr. and Mrs. Stiener cite unverified claims that the battery in the iPhone will only last for 300 cycles before exhausting completely, allegedly requiring a yearly Apple battery replacement that would cost as much as $115 as well as the time necessary to wait for a replacement.

By not placing a warning about this apparent limitation in its promotional materials or on the packaging of the iPhone, Apple and AT&T were said to have been guilty of breaching both good faith and the California Commercial Code, which demands that manufacturers in the state honestly reflect how their products will perform in real-world conditions. The two companies responsible for the iPhone and its service meant to defraud customers, the Stieners said.

Written by the law firms Hoffman & Lazear as well as Folkenflik & McGerity, both of which were responsible for a similar suit in mid-August, the nine-page argument is considered a class action suit and would have Apple and AT&T pay restitution to any affected customer in California.