Apple, LG head into patent trial with Alcatel-Lucent unit

Apple and LG are due in court this week to defend against charges from Alcatel-Lucent subsidiary Multimedia Patent Trust that they've infringed its video patents.

A California jury must once again decide whether Apple is infringing another company's patents.

Apple, along with fellow defendant LG Electronics, begin a trial today with Multimedia Patent Trust in a San Diego, Calif., court.

Multimedia Patent Trust, a subsidiary of Alcatel-Lucent, sued the two companies in December 2010 for alleged infringement on three of its patents covering video technology.

The lawsuit targets both Apple's portable iOS devices like the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, along with computers such as MacBooks and iMacs -- effectively, anything that includes Apple's QuickTime video technology. For LG, it's nine of its phones, which Multimedia Patent Trust claims infringe on two of its patents with built-in video software and the use of a Qualcomm chip.

Multimedia Patent Trust is perhaps best known for its parent company Alcatel-Lucent, which successfully sued Microsoft in 2007, landing a $1.5 billion jury verdict. That verdict was later overturned by a district court judge. The two companies reached a settlement in January that put an end to their nearly 9-year spat.

As in other high-tech patent spats, money is the main focus here. Multimedia Patent Trust wants royalties and damages from the two companies based on when they might have negotiated rates. For Apple it goes back to March 2007, and for LG it's June 2009, according to jury instructions filed yesterday and picked up by Bloomberg last night.

The case is notable for even reaching the trial phase; patent litigation is often settled long before it reaches a courtroom. There are obviously recent exceptions to that, including the ongoing case between Apple and Samsung, and the multi-faceted case between Google and Oracle earlier this year.

The trial comes a week ahead of the next Northern California court date for Apple and Samsung. The two companies are hashing out some of the remaining details in the aftermath of a jury verdict that favored Apple and saddled Samsung with a damages bill of $1.05 billion. Since then Apple has created a list of devices it wants to permanently ban from sale in the U.S., while Samsung is vying for a re-trial, claiming that there was misconduct by the jury.

You can read the full version of the preliminary jury instructions in the embedded document below:


 

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