Action to counter the lawsuit on Jan. 4 by Apple. will be filing patent infringement claims to counter the lawsuit brought on Jan. 4 by Apple Computer over methods of handling audio and audiovisual information. Apple asked the court to declare that it did not infringe any patents and that three patents are invalid.

Apple's complaint, filed in the federal District Court in San Francisco, alleges that approached the computer giant in late 2004 offering to license its patents. This is about the time that Apple was gearing up to offer an iPod with video support the following year.

Santa Rosa, Calif.-based, which provides media delivery technology, holds a variety of patents. "They cover the core audio and video functionality for Apple's iTunes and the iPod," attorney Spencer Hosie tells

Among the patents are "improved" video recorder transmitters or transceivers issued in 1990, 1992 and 1999. These three patents, listed in Apple's complaint, cover the apparatus and methods for handling audiovisual information -- storing, transferring, transmitting and receiving programs.

Last year Microsoft settled patent infringement and antitrust claims made by by reportedly paying $60 million and licensing the same patents listed in Apple's complaint.

Unlike copyright law, which protects even identical works as long as they are original (i.e., not copied from someone else's copyrighted work), patent law only protects inventions that are unique. It basically protects creations not previously invented, used and published.

Someone can prove that an invention or method is not unique by presenting prior art. Prior art may be shown from such printed materials as prior patents, white papers and industry journals.

Hosie says the counter-suit will be filed within the next 30 days.

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