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Broadcom sues Sony over MPEG, wireless etc patents in PlayStation 4

Chip biz alleges console maker let tech pact lapse

Chip designer Broadcom is suing Sony over allegations the PlayStation 4 has been using patents without a license.

Filing suit [PDF] in the Central California District Court, Broadcom claims that the latest Sony gaming box infringes on ten of its patents covering basic activities performed by a home console, such as decoding audio and video content and wirelessly transmitting data.

  • 5,870,087: "MPEG decoder system and method having a unified memory for transport decode and system controller functions"
  • 6,744,387: "Method and system for symbol binarization" (of MPEG data streams)
  • 6,982,663: "Method and system for symbol binarization"
  • 7,006,636: "Coherence-based audio coding and synthesis"
  • 7,472,151: "System and method for accelerating arithmetic decoding of video data"
  • 7,583,805: "Late reverberation-based synthesis of auditory scenes"
  • 7,400,643: "Transmission of wide bandwidth signals in a network having legacy devices"
  • 7,616,955: "Method and system for bits and coding assignment utilizing Eigen beamforming with fixed rates for closed loop WLAN"
  • 7,720,294: "Unified decoder architecture"
  • 8,147,332: "Method of indicating the ordinal number of a player in a wireless gaming system"

Broadcom obtained the patents earlier this year as part of its merger with Avago, which itself acquired the patents when it bought LSI in 2014.

The suit alleges that while Sony had previously had a license to use all ten of the patents under a deal with LSI, the home entertainment giant let the deal lapse in 2014 and has not bothered to ink a new deal with Avago/Broadcom.

"Despite continuing to use the various technological advancements provided by the LSI patent portfolio, Sony has failed to compensate Broadcom for the use of these technologies and those of Broadcom Corporation," the complaint reads.

Broadcom/Avago claims that since last year, it has attempted to bring Sony in on talks for a new licensing deal, but did not receive a response or counter-offer. Now, the chipmaker claims, it has no choice but to file suit.

The filing seeks a jury trial to determine damages, though judging from the complaint, Broadcom would appear open to settling the case before reaching that point. ®

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