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Sisvel and SanDisk at IFA 2006 for MP3 players

December 15, 2006

A decision by the Criminal Chamber of the Landgericht Berlin The Criminal Chamber of the Landgericht (regional court) Berlin in Germany has recently ruled that the seizure ordered by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Berlin of all of the MP3 players marketed as part of SanDisk’s “Sansa” product lines and the related advertising material exhibited at the SanDisk booth at IFA 2006 was legal.

In its decision, the Berlin court stated that it was “of the opinion that there are sufficient grounds for suspicion of deliberate patent infringement”. Since all of the other legal requirements were also met, the Berlin court confirmed that the seizure of the SanDisk MP3 players and the advertising material was legitimate.

“It was good to learn about the ruling of the Court,” said Dr. Paolo D’Amato, CEO of Sisvel, S.p.A. “SanDisk should not be surprised by this decision. All the MP3 players sold by the most important consumer electronics companies in the world are licensed under the patents that Audio MPEG and Sisvel license, including the famous iPod of Apple, the new Zune of Microsoft, the award winning Zen of Creative, and all the MP3-capable cell phones sold by Motorola, Nokia, and Sony-Ericsson, while the MP3 players sold by SanDisk are not.”

On the basis of a search order issued by Amtsgericht Tiergarten (district court) of Berlin on August 31, 2006, the Public Prosecutor together with the customs investigation agency carried out a search on September 1, 2006 at the booth of SanDisk on the occasion of the IFA exhibition. There the Public Prosecutor Berlin seized all SanDisk’s MP3 players, from a total of nine different “Sansa” product lines, as well as the corresponding advertising material.

In deciding that the seizure was lawful, the Court overruled the earlier decision of the Amtsgericht Tiergarten which had considered the seizure disproportionate notwithstanding an initial suspicion of patent violation.

Sisvel has filed claims of patent infringement against SanDisk in The Netherlands, Germany, and the United Kingdom claiming that SanDisk’s MP3 players infringe patents that Sisvel licenses and seeking an injunction and seeking an injunction and damages. An additional lawsuit against SanDisk, also claiming that SanDisk’s MP3 players are infringing, has been filed by Audio MPEG, Sisvel’s subsidiary, in the United States (Eastern District of Virginia).

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