In July 2010, MONKEYmedia filed a lawsuit for patent infringement in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas (W.D. Tex.). The initial suit targeted American consumer tech giant Apple Inc. (amongst others) and targeted Apple’s use of user interfaces for document summarizations, video players and RSS readers which are capable of displaying multiple versions of text and/or audiovisual content.
MONKEYmedia’s complaint included five patents-in-suit:
- U.S. Patent No. 6177938, titled Computer User Interface with Non-Salience Deemphasis. It claimed a computerized system including a computer with a means for selectively shrinking the display of a first segment of objects to emphasize a second segment.
- U.S. Patent No. 6219052, same title as above. It claims a similar computerized system including a means for transforming a displayed object into shrunken and non-shrunken segments.
- U.S. Patent No. 6335730, same title. It also claims a computerized system using a relativity controller to selectively shrink a segment of objects and a scroll bar which changes in response to relativity controller activity.
- U.S. Patent No. 6393158, titled Method and Storage Device for Expanding and Contracting Continuous Play Media Seamlessly. It discloses a method for playing stored content which includes providing links to expansion content as the stored content plays.
- U.S. Patent No. 7467218, same title as ‘158 patent. It protects a computer-readable medium storing instructions to display content, provide links to expansion content and determine when such a link has been selected.
Six years of litigation later, an order of dismissal was filed indicating that both parties had settled their respective claims for relief filed in the case. A joint stipulation of dismissal was filed stating that both parties had stipulated to the dismissal of all claims and counter-claims asserted against each other. This comes about a year after MONKEYmedia had settled similar patent infringement claims against Sony Corporation, developer of the Blu-ray digital content standard which takes advantage of seamless expansion technologies covered by MONKEYmedia’s patents.
The defendants subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment of non-infringement of the ‘158 patent, the final patent remaining in the suit after patent reexaminations at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In the motion for summary judgment, the defendants argue four points supporting their claim of non-infringement. First, they note that bonus content is available for an entire movie, not just segments of that movie. Second, the defendants argue that there are no expansion links in the movie content as defined by the claims of the ‘158 patent. Third, there is no fixed link from an expansion content to a continuing segment, so if a viewer wants to stop a movie to watch bonus content, that viewer has to actively choose to resume the movie. Finally, there are no cues to the bonus content which appear during the course of the movie; viewers must actively open menus and seek the content for themselves. The motion also includes definitions of Blu-ray technology features and descriptions of user interactions with those features by an expert witness, Mark R. Johnson.
MONKEYmedia filed a response in opposition to the summary judgment filed by the defendants. The response argues that the defendants are seeking a decision on the case “based on little more than the Court’s claim construction ruling, and without any evidence of non-infringement.” MONKEYmedia notes that, while Johnson’s expert witness declaration was attached to the motion, the witness did not put forward an actual opinion regarding non-infringement so much as a collection of observations made while watching a series of discs. The defendants’ assertion that the “links” and “segments” in Blu-ray content aren’t covered by claims of the ‘158 patent is based on an attorney argument and not by a qualified expert.
The case continues, but without Apple or Sony; both have now settled.
On Monday, March 21, 2016, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the matter of Samsung Electronics v. Apple, Inc., a dispute between two giant technology companies that at its core relates to how much Samsung owes Apple for infringing certain design patents.
So far, these two technology giants have shown little interest in playing nice. A jury found that Samsung infringed Apple design patents, Apple utility patents and also diluted Apple’s trade dresses. The infringed design patents are U.S. Design Patent Nos. D618,677 (“D’677 patent”), D593,087 (“D’087 patent”), and D604,305 (“D’305 patent”), which claim certain design elements embodied in Apple’s iPhone. The infringed utility patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,469,381 (“’381 patent”), 7,844,915 (“’915 patent”), and 7,864,163 (“’163 patent”), which claim certain features in the iPhone’s user interface. The diluted trade dresses are Trademark Registration No. 3,470,983 (“’983 trade dress”) and an unregistered trade dress defined in terms of certain elements in the configuration of the iPhone.
Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued another in the long list of judicial decisions in the ongoing patent saga between Apple and Samsung. See Apple v. Samsung Electronics (Fed. Cir. Sept. 17, 2015).
This latest appeal arises from a suit filed by Apple against Samsung in February 2012 alleging infringement of five patents directed to smartphone and tablet interfaces. The district court held on summary judgment that Samsung infringed U.S. Patent No. 8,074,172. The case proceeded to trial, and a jury found that nine Samsung products infringed one or both of Apple’s U.S. Patent Nos. 5,946,647 and 8,046,721. The jury awarded Apple a total of $119,625,000 for Samsung’s infringement of the three patents.
Following the verdict, Apple filed a motion seeking a permanent injunction that would bar Samsung from making, using, selling, developing, advertising, or importing into the United States software or code capable of implementing the infringing features in its products. Apple did not seek to enjoin Samsung’s infringing smartphones and tablets, but only the infringing features. Moreover, Apple’s proposed injunction included a 30-day “sunset period” that would stay enforcement of the injunction until 30 days after it was entered by the district court, during which time Samsung could design around the infringing features. This “sunset period” coincided with Samsung’s representations at trial that it could remove the infringing features from its products quickly and easily.
In recent weeks, Apple has added to its generous patent portfolio with a variety of interesting patents covering location-based services implemented through the electronic devices produced by the company. The enhancement of location-based services available through mobile devices is at the center of U.S. Patent No. 9066199, which is titled Location-Aware Mobile Device. The method claimed here involves determining a location of a mobile device, controlling a client to display visual indications associated with the device’s location and transmitting information regarding the selection of a visual indication to a network resource. This innovation is designed to increase the opportunities for providing location-based services by enabling the activation of multiple location-based clients directly on a mobile device instead of accessing mapping resources over a network.
Apple is also trying to make it easier for you to locate your car with the technology described in U.S. Patent No. 9041556, titled Method for Locating a Vehicle. The method for locating a vehicle in a parking structure claimed here involves receiving a vehicle signal from a low-power wireless transmitter in the vehicle, determining the vehicle’s location based on the sensor transmitting the vehicle signal, receiving a wireless signal from a device, determining that the device is associated with the vehicle and transmitting information on the vehicle’s location to the device. This invention would leverage the low-energy device communications enabled by Bluetooth, which is becoming an incredibly important technology thanks to the growing Internet of Things sector. (more…)
On April 23, 2013, Apple obtained U.S. Patent No. 8429407, titled Digital Handshake between Devices.
Creating a secure connection between two devices that are in close physical proximity allows users to share a great deal of digital content. Instead of showing a webpage or document to another person by turning the screen towards them, a user could choose to send the info directly to another device, preventing people from having to crowd around a small device screen to see. The same is true of videos and pictures. Also, some applications allow users to interact with other nearby devices for money transfers or to play a game.
Apple was granted the right to protect the system of creating a secured connection between devices laid out in this patent. It would allow an iPhone to create a bar code or alphanumerical code that can be scanned by the camera of another device. Once the “digital handshake” has taken place, other phones can also scan the key that was generated by the device to connect with the other devices as well.
As Claim 1 describes, Apple has gained legal protections over:
“A method for establishing a communications path between a first device and a second device, comprising: capturing an image of the second device using the first device; extracting, from the image, a first key associated with the second device; selecting from a plurality of processes a process to be used for generating a digital handshake key; generating the digital handshake key using the selected process with the first key; and establishing a communications path with the second device using the digital handshake key.” (more…)