Apple lawsuit wrap-up for April 2013

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Wyncomm patent

April 2013 saw the resolution of several Apple lawsuits and the start of many more, most of them involving patents in one form or another.

  • Randolph Divisions has a line of digital hearing devices named HearPods, and has sued Apple because their EarPods has too similar of a name. They seek a permanent injunction due to “trademark infringement, unfair competition, and dilution.” They also want everything with the EarPod name destroyed. Considering how many words in the English language sort-of sound like other words, the only thing that’s diluted is the value of getting a trademark.
  • Now it’s time for our Patent Troll of the Month! e.Digital has sued Apple, Research in Motion/BlackBerry, Huawei Technologies, Futurewei, and ZTE Corporation for allegedly infringing on their patents covering the use of flash memory technologies. e.Digital makes most of its money from suing companies and even after winning several monetary awards, still loses money year after year.
  • A Chinese court fined Apple $118K to compensate three Chinese writers whose books were uploaded to Apple’s App Store without their permission. Judge Feng Gang said that it was Apple’s responsibility to know what is copyrighted before approving them.
  • A judge threw out Golden Bridge Technology’s patent lawsuit against Apple because there wasn’t enough evidence to show that Apple was infringing on the patents. Golden Bridge Technology intends to appeal the decision.
  • Lodsys is still suing everyone it possibly can over its patents. As a way of explaining their point of view, Lodsys has published a letter it sent to Apple in 2011 explaining why they think App developers aren’t covered by the Lodsys licenses Apple owns. While Apple did win a limited ability to intervene in some of the lawsuits, nothing much is known about what’s happening.
  • Three brothers living in Texas have sued Apple over violating their 2002 patent titled “Communication and proximity Authorization Systems” which is as vague as the title sounds. They want a “reasonable” royalty from Apple as compensation.
  • If you took part in the Antennagate class action lawsuit due to Apple’s antenna problems with the iPhone 4, be sure to check your mailbox. You’ll soon be getting $15 in the mail as a reward for your troubles.
  • Some users are complaining about battery problems with the latest MacBook Pro and wanted to sue Apple. Unfortunately for them, a judge threw out the lawsuit because the battery drain was expected behavior.
  • Some of the early iPhones and iPod touches had a liquid contact indicator at the bottom of the headphone jack which turns pink when in contact with water. Apple says that contact with water voids the standard product warranty and refused to service the products. However 3M, who made the tape, said that humidity could produce a false positive and so Apple was sued. Now Apple will pay between $105 and $300 to those who had to pay to get their product repaired for a total of $53 million.
  • Judge Koh has ordered a new damages trial for the Apple vs. Samsung trial for November 12, 2013. The jurors will “assess damages based on the original trial’s legal scope, as the court denied Samsung’s argument that a retrial must reexamine liability issues.”
  • Apple lost a lawsuit against VirnetX and now has to pay $368.2 million in damages and change VPN on Demand features for devices running iOS 6.1 and up. However, the changes will only happen on future devices that will ship, and Apple may challenge the ruling.
  • Wyncomm has a patent that covers “side-channel communications in simultaneous voice and data transmission.” It was originally owned by many other companies and is now being to get money from Apple before the patent expires in November 2013.
  • Mobile Telecommunications Technologies has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple using seven patents. Apple’s iMessage, Airport Express, Airport Extreme, Time Capsule, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch are supposedly using those patents without the proper licenses.
  • Five software engineers filed a lawsuit against Apple, Google, Adobe, Intuit, Lucasfilm, Intel and Pixar saying that their anti-poaching agreement “lessened their employment opportunities and ultimately affected their negotiation power, resulting in lower salaries.” They wanted to have a class-action lawsuit but Judge Koh turned them down saying that they didn’t have enough proof to show they were hurt by the anti-poaching agreement.
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