Sandisk gets MP3 players pulled from show

Written by Brett Thomas

September 5, 2006 // 5:35 p.m.

Tags: #ifa #sansa #sisvel

Companies: #sandisk

The IFA show in Berlin is much like CES in the US - just on a slightly smaller scale. Consumer electronics abound, with all the big companies hoping to represent their latest wares to the public and the industry. Hence why we can bet Sandisk was none too happy to have its booth practically disassembled by German officials, after the MP3 patent holder Sisvel won an injunction.

The injunction came after Italian patent holder Sisvel had tried several other methods to get Sandisk to pay proper royalties for the MP3 decoding ability on its player. Sandisk has repeatedly said that it uses a "different method" to decode the MP3 compression, and thus does not need to pay royalties to Sisvel. An Italian court had already found in favor of Sisvel, and apparently a German court has now found likewise. German officials marched into the IFA show and removed most of the products from Sandisk's booth, leaving only a couple things on the display.

Giustino de Sanctis, head of the US subsidiary Audio MPEG, said "By definition you have to follow the standard [to play MP3 files]. It is just not possible to do it any other way." He continued discussing the company's attempts to deal with Sandisk: "We're not getting anywhere with them."

The MP3 license is currently extended to over 600 products, which Sisvel receives royalties from the sale of. According to the company, Sandisk can unfairly compete by not paying these royalties and thus offer a cheaper player than the competition.

Sandisk flatly denies that it is breaking any patent laws, though it does acknowledge the legal challenges. In reply to a German court briefing, an official statement was released stating that "SanDisk is showing that its MP3 players operate a technology which is completely different from a certain audio data transmission and reception techniques that has been patented for Philips and others many years ago.

"An expert opinion from one of the founders of MP3 digital audio compression substantiates SanDisk's position. SanDisk is not infringing any patent in the pending litigation."


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