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Wednesday, November 14, 2007, 05:00 am PT (08:00 am ET)

Patent suit targets Apple, US cellphone and computer makers

A Delaware firm named AutoText Technologies claims that Apple and virtually all of the US electronics industry is infringing on a patent for the concept of a computer-based transcription device.

The 32-page suit— most of whose length is devoted to repeating the claims against each of the defendants — was filed in the Eastern Division of the Northern District of Ohio. It alleges that any device made in the US with a display and keyboard, storage for vocabulary, and a way of sorting keywords by order of frequency violate the AutoText patent, which was granted in 1994.

Accordingly, the company names a full 23 firms, most of which are some of the largest players in the American electronics business. Apple is named for reportedly violating the patent by producing Mac OS X Tiger, the Safari web browser, and related products. The Mac maker is not singled out from the rest of the group, however.

Besides Apple, the complaint names rival computer makers HP and IBM. Nearly all companies involved in the US cellular industry are also named, such as handset producers HTC, Motorola and Palm, Microsoft and its Windows Mobile 6 operating system, and carriers like AT&T, Helio, and Verizon.

Even console manufacturers Nintendo and Sony are at fault for their Wii and PlayStation 3 systems, the lawsuit purports.

As handled by the law firm Garson & Associates, the suit demands a jury trial and a minimum of a royalty from each company found at fault, with damages also requested as additional compensation.