Apple denies patent infringement

The computer maker denies allegations made in a $1.1 billion patent infringement suit by image technology developer Imatec.

Apple Computer (AAPL) today denied allegations contained in a $1.1 billion patent infringement suit filed by Imatec (IMEC).

The lawsuit by Imatec and its president, Hanoch Shalit, contends that Apple's ColorSync products infringe on three patents related to color calibration of computer equipment. The image technology developer is seeking $1.1 billion in damages, as well as preliminary and permanent injunctions against Apple.

Apple denies the infringement claims and filed a countersuit last month to invalidate the Imatec patents, a company spokeswoman said today. Apple said it developed ColorSync in 1993 to provide a common architecture for color-management systems so that users could get consistent results when using devices that do not share the same color range.

The three patents cited by Imatec were granted in 1990, 1992, and 1994. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in New York on February 13.

"Rudolf Hell GmbH, which is now part of Heidelberg Prepress, developed and used techniques for calibration of color and luminance between images displayed on a video monitor and hard-copy printed images long before the Imatec patents were filed," said Jawdatt Mawassii, vice president of Heidelbergm, in a statement. "Products which used this color calibration were on the market in the U.S. in 1985."

Imatec appeared unfazed by Apple's response today. "It is standard procedure," Imatec spokeswoman Dian Griesel said. "It is nothing we didn't expect."