Germany’s Fraunhofer Sues Sirius XM Over Radio Patents

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By Malathi Nayak

A German research group filed suit against Sirius XM Radio Inc., claiming that the satellite radio provider is infringing four of its patents related to digital transmission and reception technology ( Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V. v. Sirius XM Radio Inc. , D. Del., No. 1:17-cv-00184-UNA, complaint 2/22/17 ).

In a suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware on Feb. 22, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft claimed that Sirius XM made and sold radio equipment and services that infringe its U.S. patent Nos. 6,314,289, 6,931,084, 6,993,084 and 7,061,997. The patents cover technology for relaying and receiving digital radio signals.

Sales of Sirius XM’s radio-subscription service and radios that are used to play music in homes and vehicles, including those made by Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Co., helped its parent company Sirius XM Holdings Inc. post $746 million revenue in 2016. Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is seeking damages for the claimed infringement and an order to prohibit Sirius XM from using its patented technology for its radio service and receivers.

Munich-based Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is a nonprofit that conducts research, including projects sponsored by industry and government, on health, security, communication, energy and the environment. The research group, which is known for inventing the MP3 digital audio format used to create and share music files, had a research budget of 2.1 billion euros ($2.2 billion) in 2016.

A spokesman for Sirius XM declined to comment. Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft could not be immediately reached for comment.

Sirius XM had a sub-license for the four patents from WorldSpace International Network Inc., which reached an exclusive licensing deal for the patents with Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in 1998, the complaint said. Sirius XM’s sub-license was terminated in 2012 as a result of WorldSpace’s bankruptcy proceedings, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft said.

In 2015, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft told Sirius that it was infringing its patents, but the radio service said that “it believed that it had authority to continue using” the patented technologies, the research firm said in its complaint.

To contact the reporter on this story: Malathi Nayak in Washington at mnayak@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at mwilczek@bna.com

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