Apple lawsuit wrap-up for November 2011

Sections: Apple Business

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NT-K tablet

November 2011 had the usual patent lawsuits, but also had some variety with people suing over unhappiness with Apple products, outing famous people’s religion, and a name Apple really wants to get.

  • Already the first iPhone 4S lawsuit has been filed. This one from VirnetX Holding Corporation regarding a patent which covers a “Method for Establishing Secure Communication Link Between Computers of Virtual Private Network” and was only granted to them on November 1st. Patently Apple has more information on what the patent entails and points out that while no known publicly held company owns a 10% or more interest in VirnetX Holding Corporation, a company could own 9.5% and not have to disclose it. This would enable them to fight a legal battle against Apple with no one being the wiser.
  • Apple sued Nuevas Tecnologias y Energias Catala (also known as NT-K), a small Spanish tablet maker over copying the design of the iPad. Not only did NT-K win the lawsuit, they’re countersuing Apple because of their “anti-competitive behavior” and seeks compensation for monetary damages, lost profits and moral damages.
  • Remember Antennagate? Someone’s suing Apple because of the problem, even though it’s long since been fixed. The reason for the lawsuit is “The value of an iPhone with a fatally flawed Signal Strength Meter is less than the value of the same iPhone without the flaw” even though fixing it would be as simple as downloading the iOS update for free. Maybe he’ll ask for compensation for mental anguish as well.
  • Johann Levy made Jew or not Jew?, an app that was accepted to the App Store, that would quiz you on whether a famous person was Jewish or not. While he said that he made the app to be “recreational … as a Jew myself I know that in our community we often ask whether a such-and-such celebrity is Jewish or not” that still led to a lawsuit against Apple after it wasn’t removed from the App Store. Fortunately, SOS Racisme, MRAP, the Union of Jewish Students of France, and J’accuse dropped the lawsuit after the app was removed saying their complaint “had beneficial effects.”
  • If you have a “T” style MagSafe power cable on an Apple laptop, and it’s fraying, you can get a replacement from Apple free of charge. If you already bought a replacement you can get reimbursed if you kept your receipts. This is thanks to a class-action lawsuit that just got settled.
  • When iOS 4 was released, it made the iPhone 3G (not 3GS) work slowly which lead to Bianca Wofford of San Diego filing a class-action lawsuit against Apple. She said the iOS 4 update “rendered the iPhone 3G devices virtually unusable, constantly slowed, crashed or frozen” and wanted everyone affected to get $5,000. Unfortunately for her, Judge Anthony J. Battaglia ruled that because iOS 4 was a free update, it did not amount to a “sale or lease” regulated under California’s Consumer Legal Remedy Act and tossed the lawsuit out. Fortunately, Apple released iOS 4.1, which addressed the iPhone 3G performance two months before she filed the lawsuit, so at least she didn’t have to suffer for very long.
  • Apple really wants to have exclusive rights over the App Store name. It recently amended its current lawsuit against Amazon in response to Amazon’s use of the term when marketing the Kindle Fire. Apple says that people could be confused by both Apple and Amazon using App Store because they might think they’re affiliated or that Apple endorses the Amazon store. Although Apple has applied for a trademark for App Store, they haven’t received it, and rivals claim it’s too generic of a term and shouldn’t be owned by any one company.
  • SmartPhone Technologies is suing Apple, AT&T, and AT&T Mobility over six patents it claims to be the “exclusive licensee” over which used to belong to Palm and 3Com.
  • David Gelernter founded Mirror Worlds which developed technology that may have inspired Apple to create Spotlight, Cover Flow and Time Machine. Later, Mirror Worlds sued Apple for patent infringement and won a $625 million award from a jury. However, Judge Leonard Davis of the United States District Court threw the award out saying “Mirror Worlds may have painted an appealing picture for the jury, but it failed to lay a solid foundation sufficient to support important elements it was required to establish under the law.” David Gelernter is appealing the verdict.
  • Apple filed two lawsuits against Graphic Properties Holdings Inc., formerly known as Silicon Graphics, and in return they have filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple. You can read about all of the back and forth and get a clearer understanding of the patents involved at Patently Apple.
  • There are a couple lawsuits between Apple, S3 and HTC, and the FOSS Patents Blog has information about it all.
  • There was an interesting development in the lawsuit between Apple and Motorola in Germany where Apple apparently let Motorola win an injunction in a default judgement. FOSS Patents has information about what happened, why it happened, and what’s likely to happen.
  • There have been only minor changes in the war between Apple and Samsung. Samsung agreed to drop a patent lawsuit in Korea, the European Commission will investigate Samsung’s patent claims against Apple, and Samsung gets their Australian ban lifted, although Apple got it extended by another week.
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