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THX sues Apple over speaker design on iMac, iPad, and iPhone

The audio company is accusing Apple of infringing its patents regarding speakers in slim devices.

Audio specialist THX -- whose sound engineering is used in cinemas -- is suing Apple. It's accused the Cupertino company of infringing its patented speaker tech, claiming that the iMac, iPad and iPhone are all guilty, Apple Insider reports.

The patent in question was granted to THX back in 2008. THX also claims Apple's alleged violation has caused it "monetary damage and irreparable harm", and is looking to stop the infringement and receive compensation in royalties or damages.

So what about the tech? The patent concerns "narrow profile speaker configurations and systems" -- in other words, ways of getting decent sound out of speakers that fit in slim consumer electronics goods, like desktop all-in-ones and flatscreen TVs. Specifically, the output aperture (aka speaker duct) is more narrow than the speaker face. THX claims the iPhone 4, 4S and 5 infringe the patent, as well as various models of the iMac and iPad.

Apple owns a number of speaker patents, the most recent of which was granted just last month. Though whether they share any claims of those belonging to THX, we'll have to wait and see. The last day the two companies can confer is 14 May, with the initial case set to start on 14 June.

Patent lawsuits are ten a penny in the tech world, with the biggest one by far being Apple versus Samsung. Apple won that, taking Samsung to the bank to the tune of $1bn, though the judge has since decreed that payout be slashed by 40 per cent. Apple and Samsung are heading back to court, so it's another one to watch.

What do you think of all these trials and tribulations? Is there much copying going on in the tech world? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.