Compression Labs has launched legal action against Apple and a host of major tech companies in a case that relates to compression patents used in the omnipresent JPEG format.

Compression Labs is a wholly owned subsdiary of Forgent networks. The patent in question is United States Patent Number 4,698,672 (known as the '672 Patent). Forgent states that it has generated $90 million from licensing the 672 Patent to 30 other companies, but attempts to reach agreement with those it’s suing have failed.

The patent relates to digital image compression, and fields of use include any digital still-image device used to compress, store, manipulate, print or transmit digital still images. However, the patent extends beyond digital cameras and includes many digital-stills devices such as PDAs, mobile phones, printers, scanners and other devices used to compress, store, manipulate, print or transmit digital still images.

Forgent has the exclusive right to use, license and enforce all the claims under the '672 Patent in all fields of use involving digital still image compression.

Forgent CEO Richard Snyder said: "It's unfortunate that despite the many opportunities these companies have had to license the patent, they have all declined to participate, leaving us no alternative but to litigate."

The defendants are: Adobe, Agfa, Apple, Axis Communications Incorporated, Canon USA, Concord Camera Corporation, Creative Labs, Dell, Eastman Kodak, Fuji, Fujitsu Computer Products of America, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, JASC Software, JVC Americas Corporation, Kyocera Wireless Corporation, Macromedia, Matsushita Electric Corporation of America, Oce North America Incorporated, Onkyo Corporation, PalmOne, Panasonic Communications, Panasonic Mobile Communications, Ricoh, Riverdeep, Savin, Thomson, Toshiba and Xerox.