Apple, Nokia, others targeted in camera patent suit

A new lawsuit sets its sights on mobile-phone makers for allegedly infringing five patents held by two different companies.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn

A lawsuit filed last week in Texas by a group named Imperium Holdings claims that Apple along with Kyocera, LG, Motorola Mobility, Nokia, Research in Motion (RIM), and Sony-Ericsson are infringing on five patents related to the cameras and imaging equipment found in phones and other mobile devices.

The suit, which was reported Friday by Patently Apple, picks on five patents in particular:

Patent 6,271,884: Image flicker reduction with fluorescent lighting.
Patent 6,838,651: High sensitivity snap shot CMOS image sensor.
Patent 6,838,715: CMOS image sensor arrangement with reduced pixel light shadowing.
Patent 7,064,768: Bad pixel correction while preserving features.
Patent 7,109,535: Semiconductor device for isolating a photodiode to reduce junction leakage.

As noted by Patently Apple, the mix of patents are actually owned by two different companies: 6,271,884, which deals with image flicker reduction, is owned by Conexant System of Newport Beach, Calif., while the remaining four have the assignee listed as ESS Technology, based in Fremont, Calif. The earliest of those was filed in 1999, with the most recent being in 2005.

This is just the latest in a long list of patent suits against Apple, though the second in the last year or so to center on imaging. One filed against Apple in January 2010 by Kodak took aim at image previewing, and the capability to process images at different resolutions. Apple ended up counter-suing the company just three months later.