Honeywell on Wednesday announced that it has filed suit in federal court against Apple Computer Inc. and more than thirty other companies, alleging infringement over a 1994 patent that describes technology used to improve the quality of images shown on a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) panel. MacCentral has obtained a copy of the documents Honeywell filed on October 6, 2004 in U.S. District Court for the district of Delaware.
Honeywell alleges that Apple and the other defendants are violating U.S. Patent 5,280,371. Filed in July of 1992 and granted in January, 1994, the patent describes a “directional diffuser for a liquid crystal display.”
Many of the companies named in the suit are various business units of the same major corporations. Other defendants named include Argus a.k.a. Hartford Computer Group Inc., Audiovox Corp., Casio Computer Co. Ltd., Casio Inc., Concord Cameras, Dell Inc., Eastman Kodak Co., Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd., Fuji Photo Film U.S.A. Inc., Fujitsu Ltd., Fujitsu America Inc., Fujitsu Computer Products of America Inc., Kyocera Wireless Corp., Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co., Matsushita Electrical Corp. of America, Navman NZ Ltd., Navman U.S.A. Inc., Nikon Corp., Nikon Inc., Nokia Corp., Nokia Americas, Olympus Corp., Olympus America Inc., Pentax Corp., Pentax U.S.A. Inc., Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd., Sanyo North America, Sony Corp., Sony Corp. of America, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications (USA) Inc., Toshiba Corp. and Toshiba America Inc.
In its 28 page complaint, Honeywell describes its technology as enabling “a display to produce a brighter image (making the screen easier to see) without requiring additional power while helping to reduce the appearance of an undesirable interference pattern called the ‘Moire effect’ on the screen.” Honeywell originally developed the technology for the aerospace industry, for use with LCD-based displays in airplane cockpits.
“Apple has been and is engaged in the manufacture, importation, offer for sale, and/or sale of products that include a liquid crystal display (LCD) in the United States with the knowledge and intention that such LCD screen-containing products would be sold throughout the United States, including this judicial district,” reads Honeywell’s complain. “Such products include at least one of the following: laptop computers, cellular phones, PDAs, digital still cameras, video cameras, portable DVD players and portable televisions, and/or portable game systems.” Honeywell’s complaint against Apple is worded identically to the complaints listed for every other company named in the suit.
The complaint indicates that “at least some of the LCD screen-containing products manufactured, imported, offered for sale, and/or sold by Apple” and the other defendants named in the suit infringe its patent. The company is asking the court for an injunction to prevent the defendants from continuing to infringe its patent, and for “damages adequate to compensate them for Defendants’ infringement, in an amount to be proven at trial, together with interest and costs as fixed by the Court.”
A Honeywell spokesman was unable to provide MacCentral with a list of the specific Apple products the company believes infringe upon its patents.
Apple had not responded to a request for comment as MacCentral posted this article, but Apple routinely refuses to comment on pending litigation.