Apple sues over Flash MX video technology

Apple is alleging that video encoding firm Sorenson broke its contract with Apple by licensing QuickTime technology to Macromedia

Apple 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 said it considers the allegations "without merit", and claimed that 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," said Jim Sorenson, chief executive of Sorenson Media, in a statement. "As is usual practice, we are always willing to discuss and work to resolve issues."

The lawsuit, filed on Friday in San Jose, California, seeks to block Sorenson's technology from being licensed to Macromedia. Apple said it paid Sorenson $4.5m (about £3m) for the rights to use Sorenson's technology, which enables video to be compressed into a form that is quickly downloadable over the Internet.

Mark Rogers, Apple's managing director for the UK and Ireland, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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.

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