It looks like Apple will never escape the black hole that is high-profile litigation, be it self-inflicted or from external forces. Samsung is the biggest fish the company has tangled with, but a new and familiar challenger has recently appeared — THX, the audio specialist once a part of the Lucasfilm mothership.
An article on Apple Insider details the court filing, itself viewable on Scribd. Going by the document, THX's beef with Apple is over the 2008 US patent #7,433,483, which also goes by the more descriptive title of "Narrow profile speaker configurations and systems".
Here's a snippet from the patent's abstract:
A narrow profile speaker unit comprises at least one speaker outputting sound towards an internal surface and through a duct with an output terminus, such as a slot, having a narrow dimension, effectively changing the cross-section of the speaker's audio output wave ... A slotted speaker unit may include multiple speakers facing the same direction, towards a groundplane or reflecting surface, and having parallel apertures for allowing sound radiation. The speaker units may be integral with or attached to electronic appliances such as desktop computers or flatscreen devices ...
THX alleges that Apple's iPhone, iPad and iMac products infringe on the patent.
How they infringe might not be immediately apparent, thankfully, Apple Insider noted that the image on the right, taken from the patent, along with the description in the abstract, do a decent job of describing the speaker configuration on the new iMac.
The first "case management" chat isn't until June 14, so it's possible we won't get any updates on the situation until then. I'm betting if THX's claim has any weight, which it certainly appears to, we'll be hearing things long before then.