Apple

February 17, 2014, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – The nation’s two top mobile device makers will head back to court next month to duke it out yet again.  This trial, the third between the big name rivals, will start March 31st and will cover five patents and a total of twenty devices that the companies respectively claim are infringing.   The setting is familiar for both companies, as it will take place in the same courthouse and will be heard by the same judge as the last two trials.

According to several reports, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung Co-CEO JK Shin attempted to resolve the dispute informally through mediation talks.  It appears that those negotiations have failed, however, as a Korean newspaper recently reported that Shin is back in Korea and has stated that he has no plans to return to the United States before the February 19th deadline for settlement talks.  This comes as little surprise, as both have remained stern in their positions against one another.  It also mirrors the situation that occurred in 2012 as the two met to try to resolve the last dispute before ultimately going to trial, where a jury ended up awarding $1 billion to Apple for patent infringement damages.

With a bitter feeling left over from 2012,  Samsung is alleging this time that Apple has infringed its patents with its iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Mini, iPod Touch (5th generation), iPod Touch (4th generation) and MacBook Pro.  Apple, on the other hand, claims that Samsung’s Admire, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S2, Galaxy S2 Epic 4G Touch, Galaxy S 2 Skyrocket, Galaxy S3, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and Stratosphere are all infringing its own patents.

Depending on the result of the trial, either company could face serious problems if forced to pull products off shelves due to an injunction.  Given that many of the devices that Samsung has taken issue with are somewhat new rereleases, Apple could stand to lose more than Samsung with a loss.  Regardless, it is evident that the war between these two is far from over.

December 3, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – A series of five patents filed on November 21st reveal Apple’s potential plans to include liquidmetal in its products.  Though the five patents leave it somewhat difficult to ascertain exactly what type of product would come out of the claims, two of the filings clearly have to do with 3-D printing methods for electronic devices.  The applications do not come as a shock to Apple enthusiasts, who were gripped by a 2012 rumor that the new iPhone might utilize liquidmetal technology.  While that rumor did not manifest in the iPhone 5s, it is now a fact that Apple is at least heavily considering implementing the material in future products.

Created in the early 2000s by a research team at the California Institute of Technology, liquidmetal is a unique form of amorphous metal alloy.  It is similar to plastic in that it cools fast and is very strong, with more than double the strength of titanium alloy.  Adding to its appeal, despite its durability, liquidmetal is flexible, lending it a unique ability to be molded into very thin shapes while remaining sturdy.

The Silicon Valley tech producer known for its simplistic designs and user friendly devices turned heads in 2010 when it signed a contact with California-based Liquidmetal Technologies.  Since then, speculation has run high that Apple would be the first to create a modern-looking smartphone made out of liquidmetal. Given that liquidmetal is more lightweight and less expensive than the metal currently used to make iPhones, it is an enticing possibility.

According to the actual patent filings, liquidmetal might be used to create new Apple products through 3-D printing and injection molding methods, which could be a cheaper alternative to the current practice of creating prototypes and using machining processes to stamp out finished products.  The first filing is entitled “Layer-by-Layer Construction with Bulk Metallic Glasses” and seems to provide the most insight into the creation of new products using liquid metal.  The other four, respectively titled “Layer-by-Layer Construction with Bulk Metallic Glasses”, “Amorphous Alloy Component or Feedstock and Methods of Making the Same”, “Bulk Metallic Glass Feedback with Dissimilar Sheath” and “Manipulating Surface Topology of BMG Feedstock” are much more technical and seem to focus on more specialized applications of the liquidmetal technology.

March 21, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – THX Ltd. filed a lawsuit against Apple, Inc. in California federal court claiming that the technology giant is infringing its patent that covers technology for narrow-profile speakers.

The complaint filed in San Francisco alleges that various Apple devices, including the popular iPhone 4 and the iPad, infringe U.S. Patent Number 7,433,483.  The ‘483 patent covers technology for narrow-profile speakers that can be used in small devices to improve sound without the need for external speakers.

San Rafael, CA-based THX told U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White that Apple is “among other things, making, using, importing, offering to sell, and/or selling in the United States products covered by one or more claims of the ‘483 patent…including but not limited to Apple’s iPhone4 and later models, as well as its iPad, and iMac products.”

THX’s patent, titled “Narrow profile speaker configurations and systems” was granted in 2008 and covers speakers that are meant to be used in small electronic devices including computers and flat-screen devices.  According to the patent description, the speakers can also be used in cars.  The narrow-profile speakers emit sound through a narrow opening and the size of the opening modifies the shape of the sound waves, altering the sound emitted, according to the patent description.

THX claims that Apple has been making and importing various electronic devices that infringe its ‘483 patent and that Apple’s patent infringement will cause irreparable harm to THX and therefore the technology giant must be stopped immediately.

“Apple’s infringement of the ‘483 patent has cause and will continue to cause THX both monetary damage and irreparable harm for which it has no adequate remedy at law.”

THX is seeking a declaratory judgment that Apple has infringed the ‘483 patent, a permanent injunction prohibiting Apple from continuing to infringe the patent, damages, prejudgment interest, costs and attorney fees.

THX is a cinema acoustics company started by “Star Wars” creator George Lucas.  THX began after Lucas realized that the state-of-the-art technology used to record sound while filming was being lost on cinema audiences, as theaters were using antiquated acoustic technology incapable of playing the sound the way the producers had envisioned.

The company went on to revolutionize the way movies are heard on both the big screen and more recently on devices in the home.  Today the company is known for its certification standards for cinema sound quality.

 

February 28, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – Qualcomm, Inc. and Microsoft Corp. told the Federal Trade Commission that Google is seeking injunctions to prevent competitors from selling goods that infringe its stand-essential patents, even though Google made an agreement with the FTC that it would not seek injunctions against companies that are willing to license the patented technology.

Qualcomm, Microsoft, Ericsson and  Apple all made public comments last week saying that Google is not living up to the promises it made in its deal with the FTC regarding how it handles the standard-essential patents it obtained when it bought Motorola Mobility Inc.

Google’s settlement with the FTC included a provision that prohibits Google from pursuing injunctions against companies that are willing to license the patents.  Apple and Microsoft, both of which have been in patent licensing wars with Google, said that Google is still seeking injunctions against them and using the threat of injunctions as a tool in negotiating past licensing fees.

“Google continues to pursue injunctive relief against Apple in federal court and seeks to exploit the injunction it obtained and enforced against Apple in Germany,” Apple said.

Microsoft requested the FTC clarify the pending consent decree to demand Google to abandon all injunctive relief actions that have already been filed.

“We assume that Google’s refusal to withdraw its pending claims for injunctive relief means that it interprets the proposed order to permit it to continue its existing claims for injunctive relief, notwithstanding the commission’s public statement to the contrary,” Microsoft said.  “Clarification of the decree in this regard would be appropriate.”

The companies expressed concern that if the consent decree were to be adopted for all standard-essential patent owners there would be far-reaching consequences and the companies urged the FTC to limit the proposed consent decree just to Google’s case.

“Ericsson believes that the specific procedures described in the order, if widely adopted, may cause unintended and undesirable consequences,” Ericsson said.  “Unnecessary restrictions on the availability of injunctive relief against unwilling licensees may discourage companies such as Ericsson from contributing to open standards.”

Trade groups such as the American Intellectual Property Law Association and the Intellectual Property Owners Association also opposed the consent decree.  The groups expressed concern that the consent decree limits the patent owners’ First Amendment right to seek injunctive relief from the courts in the case of infringement.

December 14, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – A jury in San Diego found that Apple Inc. and LG Electronics Inc. did not infringe patents for electronic devices including phones and computers owned by Multimedia Patent Trust, an Alcatel-Lucent SA subsidiary.  The verdict was issued Thursday after a trial that lasted more than two weeks in the Southern District of the United States District Court. The trial was presided over by U.S. District Judge Marilyn L. Huff.

The Paris-based Multimedia Patent Trust filed the lawsuit in December 2010 and it asked the jurors to award $9.1 million in royalty damages from LG Electronics and $172.3 million in royalty damages from Apple.

The Plaintiff accused LG Electronics of infringing two of its patents and Apple of infringing three of its patents for video-compression technology, which aids in sending data via satellite and over the Internet and allows for increased media storage on DVDs and Blu-Ray disks. The patent trust claimed the patents were infringed by multiple devices including LG Electronics’ Chocolate Touch VX8575, Touch AX8575, Bliss, UX700, Mystique UN610, Samba LG8575, and Lotus Elite LX610 as well as Apple’s MacBook, iMac, iPhone, iPod, and iPad. The patent trust also claimed that at least 33 different companies have paid more than $190 million to license the patents in question and Apple and LG Electronics should have to pay the licensing fees as well.

Apple and LG Electronics argued that they had in fact compensated the Multimedia Patent Trust because they are members of an industry-wide patent pool. The companies also claimed that the trust was attempting to expand the scope of its expired patents to cover technology that it does not own.

Though Apple and LG Electronics have a verdict, the two-year patent war is far from over between the companies. The patent trust has already motioned for mistrial, sighting the behavior of Apple’s counsel during closing arguments as reason to retry the case. Apple received the ruling just hours after losing a separate, unrelated case against MobileMedia, a subsidiary of Sony, MPEG-LA and Nokia. In that case a Delaware jury found Apple had infringed three patents dealing with the operation of the phone’s camera and call handling.

December 12, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – Apple and Google are reportedly working together to offer Eastman Kodak more than $500 million for its imaging patents, which are being sold as part of Kodak’s bankruptcy proceedings.

The two technology giants are bidding on an undisclosed amount of Kodak’s 1,100 patents related to capturing, manipulating and sharing digital images.  Kodak valued the patents at $2.21 billion to $2.57 billion in its court documents, claiming it has made more than $3 billion by licensing the patents to companies such as Samsung Electronics, Google’s Motorola Mobility unit, LG Electronics and other technology companies.

Bidding entities disagreed with the figure Kodak assigned to its patents, as the first round of bids were reported to be in the $150 to $250 million range, likely because the value of the patents has been diluted due to Kodak’s excessive licensing.

Kodak is unwilling to sell its patents for that low of a figure as its $850 million loan offer, which it needs to pull out of bankruptcy, is contingent upon its patents selling for no less than $500 million.

In the first round of bidding, California-based companies Apple and Google were bidding against each other.  Apple is teaming up with Microsoft and Intellectual Ventures while Google is working with RPX Corp. and Asian manufacturers of Google’s Android phones.

Though Apple and Google are major competitors in the smartphone market and have had patent disputes in the past, partnering to purchase the patents allows both companies to not only reduce the cost but also limit the likelihood of patent infringement claims in the future.

This will not be the first time Apple has teamed up with a major competitor to purchase patents.  Apple teamed up with Research in Motion, maker of the Blackberry, to buy 6,000 patents from Nortel Network’s Corp. for $4.5 billion.  The companies were able to out bid Google, who only offered $900 million.  Google and Apple refused to comment on the alleged bid, as each company said it would not comment on rumors.  New York-based company Kodak would not comment on the purchase either, due to a court ordered confidentiality agreement.

Once Kodak secures its exit financing, it plans to shrink the company and move its focus away from photography, as the company was unable to keep up with the switch to digital.  Instead, it plans to focus on commercial, packaging and functional printing services.