DRM Firm Sues Apple After Patent Talks Flop

Intertrust is looking for another big paycheck.

On Wednesday, the digital rights management pioneer slapped Apple with a broad patent infringement suit that encompasses most of its products and services.

Filed in federal court in Northern California, the suit alleges infringement of 15 Intertrust patents across everything from iOS and Mac hardware to services like iTunes and iCloud. It was brought against Apple after the two companies failed to reach a licensing agreement. And Intertrust is taking Apple to the mat in a pretty big way. Not only does the suit seek preliminary and permanent injunctions against further infringement and a reasonable royalty for Apple’s continued use of Intertrust technology, it requests pre- and post-judgment interest on those royalties and a judgment of willful infringement. Such a judgment would triple damages levied against Apple.

“No other entity uses Intertrust technologies so extensively at so many levels of its enterprise,” the company said in its suit.

Intertrust is not messing around. And while this is clearly yet another case of royalty negotiation though litigation, it’s not one to be taken lightly. Intertrust may not be a household name, but the companies that license its technology include Sony, Samsung, HTC, Motorola and Microsoft. The last name in that list is the most important one, because Microsoft — like Apple — refused to license Intertrust’s IP. Intertrust sued Microsoft in 2001, and in 2004 it squeezed a $440 million legal settlement and licensing deal out of the software giant.

Which is not to say that Intertrust is likely to win a similar victory over Apple. Just that it has prevailed in cases like these in the past. If Apple has refused to license Intertrust’s IP, it obviously has good reason to do so. It’s just not clear if it feels it owes Intertrust lower royalties than the company is demanding, or none at all.

Apple declined comment on the Intertrust suit, citing its policy of not commenting on pending litigation.




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