THX sues Apple for patent misuse

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Illustration of ‘483 patent – United States Patent and Trademark Office

According to Bloomberg, THX is suing Apple in a US District Court in California. THX has claimed that certain Apple products infringe a THX-held “narrow profile speaker” patent.

THX was created by George Lucas in 2002. Once part of his Lucasfilms empire, THX defined standards and sought patents for theatre sound systems for optimal sound output. As described by AppleInsider, the patent granted in 2008 described methods for improving sound quality of small speakers in consumer electronics. It is claimed in the lawsuit that the Apple products with the particular compact speakers infringe the patent, causing the company “monetary damage and irreparable harm”.

It is claimed that infringing devices include the iPhone 4S, 5, and unspecified models of the iPad and iMac. AppleInsider has suggested that the speakers of the latest iMac employ a structure that looks similar to a design included in the patent. However, it is unknown if the speakers actually employ the designs. It is noted that Apple did file a patent for “Low-profile speaker arrangements for compact electronic devices”, however the patent was apparently granted last month.

Apple has until May 14 to reach a settlement.