RIM Sued By Dolby Over Patents Already Licensed By Apple, HTC, Nokia

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Just because one prominent mobile patent case was settled this week doesn’t mean the ongoing disputes involving seemingly everyone in the business won’t continue to grow. Research in Motion (NSDQ: RIMM) was reminded of that Wednesday courtesy of a patent-infringement lawsuit from Dolby involving technology that most of the mobile world has already agreed to license.

Dolby, well known for its work on audio technology, is claiming RIM “infringes Dolby patents covering highly efficient digital audio compression technologies which allow manufacturers and consumers to provide and enjoy high quality audio while using extremely limited amounts of transmission and/or storage space for such audio,” according to a press release announcing the lawsuit. BlackBerry phones are allegedly using that technology without a license and should therefore have to pay up, which “all other major smart phone makers” have done according to Dolby.

A Dolby representative declined to comment beyond the company’s press release, but according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the companies that have licensed the technology include Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), HTC, LG (SEO: 066570), Motorola (NYSE: MMI), Nokia (NYSE: NOK), Samsung, and Sony (NYSE: SNE), a list that indeed comprises all “major” phone hardware manufacturers on the planet.

Just another mobile patent lawsuit for the pile: even though Apple and Nokia buried the hatchet this week Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and its Android partners are facing countless lawsuits over patents. RIM, which is scheduled to report earnings tomorrow amid growing unease that the company is not headed in the right direction, “declined to pay for the use of Dolby’s technology,” Dolby said in its press release. However, there’s little chance that RIM doesn’t understand the seriousness of patent lawsuits, as the company has arguably never been the same after forking over $612.5 million to NTP in 2006 from a dispute over mobile patents.

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