off the Press - NEWS
pay Grosse Pointe firm $25 M in patent royalties on digital camera technology
February 5, 2003
This story was reported
by Bloomberg News regarding the jury finding that Sony had infringed
on technology patents owned by St. Clair Intellectual Property Consultants
Inc. The quoted text of the story follows.
Sony Corp., the
world's second-largest consumer electronics maker, was told by a jury
to pay $25 million in royalties to a patent-licensing company for using
protected digital camera technology.
After a two-week trial in Delaware, federal court jurors concluded that
Sony infringed four patents owned by St. Clair Intellectual Property
Consultants Inc. The patents are for cameras that work with Apple Computer
Inc.'s Macintosh personal computers and International Business Machines
Corp. computers and clones that run on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows software.
a lawyer for closely held St. Clair, had asked for $171.4 million in
royalties on $3.01 billion in Sony's digital camera sales since 1998.
"The jury spoke," St. Clair co-founder Edmund Chung said.
"That's the American way." Grosse Pointe, Michigan-based St.
Clair bought the patents, awarded since 1992, for $65,000 in 1995, according
to trial testimony.
Sony spokesman Greg
Dvorken in Park Ridge, New Jersey, said the company disagrees with the
decision, "but the case is ongoing and we plan to challenge validity
of the patents at the appeals level."
American depositary receipts of Sony, second only to Matsushita Electric
Industrial Co. Ltd. in consumer electronics sales, fell 26 cents to close
at $38.20 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading after falling to
a 52-week low of $37.66 earlier in the day. The shares have fallen about
19 percent in the past year.
Among Sony's bond issues
are $500 million in 4.95 percent notes due in 2006, according to Bloomberg
Sony lawyer Sidney David told jurors the Japanese company's cameras work
"in a totally different manner" from the St. Clair inventions,
and that the IBM and Apple computers, not the cameras, process the data
into video images.
Sony, with $21.1 billion in fiscal 2002 sales, makes the PlayStation2
and is the world's biggest maker of video games.
According to court exhibits and testimony, Sony sold about $900 million
in digital cameras during fiscal 2001 and now sells about $100 million
a month, capturing 28 percent to 30 percent of the market.
St. Clair sued Tokyo-based Sony in August 2001, claiming the Japanese
company's products infringe equipment and processes invented by Marc Roberts,
Matthew Chikosky and Jerry Speasl for the multiple-format images.
The inventors will split the jury award with St. Clair, Schutz said during
David said that, even if Sony did infringe the patents, a "reasonable
royalty" would be less than $5.73 million because formatting is only
one of many features on its cameras.