The US Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by digital media manufacturers to throw out a patent infringement lawsuit brought by flash data storage card manufacturer SanDisk.
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The court rejected a petition from Ritek, Memorex and Pretec Electronics to kill SanDisk's infringement suit.
The case covers the use of flash memory devices used in products such as digital cameras, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and MP3 players.
The ruling means the three companies may ultimately have to pay SanDisk compensation and royalties, if the company’s case is upheld.
This could drive up the cost of their flash-based products when companies operating in this market are already operating under extremely tight margins.
Ritek is a manufacturer of flash memory devices, Pretec is a subsidiary of a Taiwanese manufacturer, and Memorex is a flash-based technology distributor.
The case has been going since 2001, when SanDisk sued the three companies, claiming they had infringed a patent it holds on flash memory technology.
A fourth company sued by SanDisk has already settled with the company over use of the technology in question.
A US district court had previously ruled in the three companies’ favour, and had thrown out the case, but the Supreme Court ruling referred the case back to that court, saying the patent in question had not been correctly considered.