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SigmaTel acquires MP3 design patents, expands IP strategy

Posted: 05 Jan 2006     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mixed-signal semiconductor  SigmaTel  MP3 player  intellectual property  IP 

Mixed-signal semiconductor supplier SigmaTel Inc. said early this week (Jan. 3) it has acquired the original MP3 player design patents and is expanding its intellectual property (IP) licensing program.

A SigmaTel spokesperson said the acquisition of the second and final component of the original MP3 patent family closed Tuesday. SigmaTel had acquired part of this patent family in July, when it acquired the software, patents and engineering resources associated with D&M Holdings Inc.'s Rio portable audio product line.

According to the company spokesperson, this is the first time these patents have been held by a single company. Prior to SigmaTel's acquisition of this patent family, the company said, the patents most recently were held by MPMan.com and by Digital Networks North America, SigmaTel said. The patent family is made up of issued patents in Korea China and the United States.

SigmaTel's IP program, which was initially launched to focus on the European market, has now been expanded to focus on IP licensing on a global scale, the company said. The licensing program is focused on IP used in MP3 players or in portable audio system-on-chip solutions for MP3 players, according to the company.

To implement the licensing program in China, SigmaTel has retained a law firm, Deacons, which has successfully represented other companies in the enforcement of Chinese patents, SigmaTel said.

Over the next few weeks, SigmaTel said it intends to file several additional patent applications based on pending applications in the United States and Europe These applications, the company said, will attempt to secure protection for the various features of the MP3 player disclosed in the original patent application.

SigmaTel said it would not seek royalties for the sale of players which contain MP3 semiconductors purchased from SigmaTel or one of its distributors, but will instead focus on products from other MP3 manufacturers and MP3 semiconductor developers which may include SigmaTel intellectual property in their product designs.

The company said it would first employ a licensing strategy, but would not hesitate to resort to legal action if MP3 player and silicon manufacturers declined to participate in the program.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times




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