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Audio MPEG and Sisvel have announced that Thomson and a number of its subsidiaries have been sued in the United States and Europe for infringement of several MPEG Audio patents in its digital television set-top boxes and MP3 players.

The patented technology was developed and is owned by France Telecom, Telediffusion De France (TDF), Philips, and Institut fur Rundfunktechnik (IRT). The patents are essential to the MPEG audio compression standard used worldwide in MP3 players, TV set-top boxes, digital television broadcasting, and an increasing number of consumer electronics products.

Litigations for patent infringement against Thomson are now pending and progressing in Alexandria, VA, Mannheim, Germany, and Milan, Italy, with Audio MPEG and Sisvel contending they have the exclusive rights to license the patents. According to the complaints, Thomson markets and sells MP3 players, TV set-top boxes, DVD players, and CD players using MPEG audio compression covered by the patents of France Telecom, TDF, Philips and IRT without a current license to practice those inventions. Until recently, Thomson was also licensed, but failed to renew their license this year.

The EU and USA lawsuits seek royalties for past infringement, punitive damages for willful infringement, attorneys fees, and injunctions to permanently prohibit Thompson from selling MP3 players, TV set top boxes, DVD players, and CD players using MPEG audio compression.

Thomson officials did not return Audio Technology Update’s e-mail's requesting its side of the dispute.

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