Dolby sues RIM over BlackBerry, PlayBook audio compression

BlackBerry PlayBook

Dolby Laboratories has filed suit against Canada’s Research in Motion in Germany and the United States, claiming the company’s BlackBerry and PlayBook products infringe on Dolby patents included in the High Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding (“HE AAC”) audio compression standard. Dolby is seeking financial damages and an injunction on the sale of infringing RIM products.

“Litigation was regrettably our last resort after RIM declined to pay for the use of Dolby’s technology,” said Dolby executive VP and general counsel Andy Sherman, in a statement. “We have a duty to protect our intellectual property.”

RIM has not yet responded to the suit.

Although HE AAC is an ISO standard for audio compression—it’s a lossy compression format used in a wide variety of media players, smartphones, and other consumer electronics—companies holding patents related to the technology have formed a patent pool administered by Via Licensing Corporation so product developers can execute a single license for the technology. The setup requires hardware and software makers that support HE AAC to execute a license, but content owners are not required to do so.

The suits land just as RIM is gearing up in an effort to placate investors concerned over the company’s earnings and revenue outlook: the company warned in April that it expected earnings to be down for the next four quarters due to reduced smartphone sales and a shift in sales towards the lower-margin end of its line. RIM has made strong promises for its full-year earning outlook based on the anticipated success of its PlayBook tablet, but so far has not announced launch dates for new BlackBerry phones. RIM is expected to released its quarterly results at the close of markets today.