Six major technology companies are suing Dell for infringing various MPEG 2 patents by installing software on its computers without obtaining a licence.
The companies - Sony, Mitsubishi Electric, France Telecom, Scientific-Atlanta, Philips and Victor - together own 44 patents which are used for video compression on the MPEG 2 video standard.
In the lawsuit the companies allege that Dell has promoted PCs which are capable of playing back DVD movies, as well as charging "several hundred dollars" for additional features to create and edit MPEG 2 video. The software used to achieve this uses technology covered by the plaintiffs' patents.
The MPEG 2 standard consists of 380 patents, all of which is controlled by a company called MPEG LA. It licenses the technology out in full, or by individual patents, to companies across the world.
Dell has not commented on the lawsuit as yet. ®