A patent troll by the name of TLI Communications has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple. The patent infringement lawsuit concerns Apple's iCloud, iPhoto, iMovie and Photo Stream products. According to the court document, TLI alleges that Apple's products use their patented technology without license or authority to classify images so that they can be easily uploaded, stored, organized, retrieved and shared. On the same day that they filed their lawsuit against Apple, TLI filed a similar separate lawsuit using the very same patent against Facebook.
Patent 6,038,295 claims priority to an application filed on June 17, 1996. The '295 patent was originally assigned to Siemens Aktiengesellschaft of Munich, Germany. TLI is the current owner of the '295 patent via assignment. .
In the mid 1990's, Dr. Mattes, while working as a scientist for Siemens, recognized that mobile telephony and digital photography, each then in their infancy, would likely become more and more popular. Dr. Mattes recognized that mobile telephones could be integrated with digital cameras, resulting in a proliferation of the quantity of digital images that could and would be taken.
Dr. Mattes invented a revolutionary way of communicating and recording such digital images, which allowed numerous images to be simply and quickly recorded, tracked, accessed and transmitted.
In 1996, Dr. Mattes' invention was among the winners of a Siemens idea competition, leading to Siemens initiating a project to develop a cellular telephone with an integrated camera.
The '295's patented inventions are applicable to the uploading and organization of digital images from a telephone. Over the past few years, smart cellular telephones that incorporate sophisticated digital cameras have exploded in popularity, as has social media. Today, hundreds of millions of digital images are uploaded onto computer servers and social media websites every day, including via Apple's iCloud, iPhoto, iMovie and Photo Stream products. Apple's products use the '295's patented technology, without license or authority, to classify those images so that they can be easily uploaded, stored, organized, retrieved and shared.
Apple's Alleged Infringing Products
Apple provides computer, cellular phone and web based products and services, including its iCloud, iPhoto, iMovie and Photo Stream products.
Apple purports that "Photo automatically organizes your photos and videos by year, by collection and by moment." In addition, Apple purports that "iCloud lets you share what you want with the people you choose" and that users can create "a shared photo stream for your island vacation and you can see snapshots and videos from everyone in your group."
Apple uploads, stores and organizes the millions of digital images that it receives from mobile telephones. To do so, Apple had to develop products and processes that, on information and belief, employ TLI's patented technology. The infringing products include, but are not limited to, the products and processes that Apple uses to upload, store and organize the digital images it receives from mobile telephones, including iCloud, iPhoto, iMovie and Photo Stream ("Apple Infringing Products"). Discovery is expected to uncover the full extent of Apple's unlawful use of TLI's patented technology beyond these accused Infringing Products already identified through public information.
Upon information and belief, Apple has been and is currently directly infringing one or more claims of the '295 Patent by making, using, offering to sell, and/or selling within the United States, and/or importing into the United States, without authority, the Apple Infringing Products. For example, and without limitation, Apple has directly infringed and continues to directly infringe Patent 6,038,295 in this judicial district and elsewhere in the United States. Apple's infringement includes, without limitation, (i) making and using the apparatus of claim 1 and claims dependent thereon, and (ii) practicing the method of claim 17 and claims dependent thereon.
TLI Communications is claiming that Apple's patent infringement is willful, which is legalese for asking the court to triple the damages in the case should Apple be found guilty of patent infringement.
The patent infringement case presented in today's report was filed in Delaware District Court, Wilmington office. At present, no Judge has been assigned to the case 1:2013cv01921
The FTC is currently examining the practices of patent trolls or "Patent Assertion Entities" (PAEs) which are firms with a business model based primarily on purchasing patents and then attempting to generate revenue by asserting the intellectual property against persons who are already practicing the patented technologies. The FTC is conducting the study in order to further one of the agency’s key missions—to examine cutting-edge competition and consumer protection topics that may have a significant effect on the U.S. economy.
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