Sony to Pay Agere $18.5 Mln in Patent Case

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Consumer electronics giant Sony has been ordered to pay Agere Systems, now part of LSI Electronics) $18.4 million for infringing on an Agere patent related to data protcol used for labeling and self-registering data contained in a music chip.

The case dates back to March of 2006, when Agere alleged Sony was infringing on eight of its patents, although Sony was found not to be infringing on seven of the patents through a licensing arragenemtn with Agere’s previous owner, Lucent Technologies. However, on the eighth patent (5,670,730), the jury found that Sony had engaged in “willfull” infringement in its PlayStation Portable, mylo Personal Communicator, and Network Walkmans, and ordered Sony to pay $18.5 million in compensation.

Although $18.5 million isn’t a significant financial burden to a company the size of Sony, it is an indication that patent holders can, sometimes, stand up in court against giant multinational corporations. Unlike many overly-broad technology patents, Agere’s 730 patent, granted in 1997, describes a fairly specific system.

Sony had argued Agere’s patent was invalid.