May 1, 2002 5:05 PM PDT

Apple files Flash lawsuit

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Apple Computer has filed a lawsuit against Sorenson Media over technology licensed to Macromedia for the new Flash MX player. Apple licenses similar technology from Sorenson for its QuickTime video server and player software.

The lawsuit states that Sorenson has "intentionally disrupted the economic advantage that Apple expected to gain from its exclusive rights under the agreement."

Sorenson says it licensed Sorenson Spark to Macromedia, while the technology in QuickTime is Sorenson Video. The company also said it considers the allegations "without merit" and claimed Apple did not attempt to negotiate before filing the suit.

"We are greatly surprised by the presumptive filing of this suit without prior discussions or understandings between the parties," Jim Sorenson, chief executive of Sorenson Media, said in a statement. "As is usual practice, we are always willing to discuss and work to resolve issues."

Apple said in a statement that Sorenson is "licensing its Spark codec to third parties for products that compete with QuickTime in violation of our exclusivity agreement, so we are seeking damages and an injunction against the company."

The lawsuit, filed Friday in San Jose, Calif., seeks to block Sorenson's technology from being licensed to Macromedia. Apple said it paid Sorenson $4.5 million for the rights to use Sorenson's technology, which enables video to be compressed into a form that is quickly downloadable over the Internet.

Flash MX was released to the public on Monday. Previous versions of Flash only displayed graphics, but the new version adds video, potentially putting it into competition with QuickTime.

However, Macromedia has said that it does not intend to compete with QuickTime, since the streaming-video market is largely focused on server software sales.

ZDNet U.K.'s Matthew Broersma reported from London.


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