Apple sued over camera patent by litigant with a past

Cupertino firm Apple has received a writ from a company that alleges it breaches patents it owns.

The patents all relate to Electronic Still Video Camera with Direct Personal Computer Compatible Digital Format Output – number 5,138,459 is a sample of the patent.

The action is being brought by St Clair Intellectual Property Consultants, and it’s provided a battery of previous litigation that’s resulted in success in the courts.

For example, it sued Sony in 2001 and picked up $25,000,000 plus an agreement for the Japanese giant to license the patents. In 2003 it filed suit against Canon, Casio, Seiko, Epson, Fuji Photo, Fujifilm, Kyocera, Minolta, Nikon, and Olympus. Canon had to pay out $34,716,482 in that case.

Many of the others licensed the technology. But St Clair got damages of $3,003,465 from Fuji and Fujifilm.

In 2004, St Clair sued Samsung, Matsushita, Victor, JVC, Nokia, HP and Eastman Kodak. Kodak and Samsung have licensed the technology.

In 2006, St Clair sued Siemens, BenQ, AUdiovox, UT Starcom, Sprint Nextel, Cingular, Verizon, Vodafone and Cellco alleging infringement of these patents.

It then took action against LG, Motorola, Palm, Sanyo, Concord Camera, Vivitar, Polaroid, HTC, Deutsche Telecom, and T-Mobile. LG, Motorola and Sanyo have licensed the patents.

In 2008, St Clair sued Research in Motion and General Imaging. General Image has licensed the patents.

Now it wants damages from Apple.

There’s some very interesting information about St Clair – that they’d probably prefer you not to read – here.