Virginia based Rembrandt Patent Innovations LLC and Rembrandt Secure Computing LP, have filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple. The patent infringement lawsuit concerns Apple's iTunes and iOS functionality.
The case against Apple is based on patent 6,185,678 (the '678 patent) originally assigned to Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania and now owned by assignment by Rembrandt Patent Innovations.
Rembrandt's court filing lists Apple's products that allegedly infringe on their patent as follows: "On information and belief, these products, services, and devices include, for example and without limitation, Apple's servers and other Apple electronic devices that support iTunes functionality, and any Apple electronic devices configured or adapted to operate with Apple's iPhone OS or iOS, including but not limited to the Apple iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPod Touch 1st Generation, iPod Touch 2nd Generation, iPod Touch 3rd Generation, iPod Touch 4th Generation, iPod Touch 5th Generation, iPad, iPad 2, iPad 3rd Generation, iPad 4th Generation, the Apple iPad mini, and all reasonably similar products (the "Accused Products")."
The formal complaint before the court states that when the accused products noted above are configured or operating as specified by Apple, infringe at least system claims 1 and 3 of the '678 patent. Apple makes, uses, imports, sells, and/or offers for sale these systems and thus directly infringes at least claims 1 and 3 of the '678 patent.
The complaint further notes that "The use of the Accused Products, when configured and operating as specified by Apple, infringe at least method claims 4 and 7 of the '678 patent.
In general, the technology at issue in the Accused Products relates to systems and methods for secure booting and recovery in an electronic device.
An interesting point made in the formal complaint states that "On information and belief, Apple knew of the '678 Patent at least as early as 2008. The '678 Patent was cited by the European Patent Office, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and Apple during the prosecution of Apple's own patents and patent applications, including U.S. Patent No. 8,239,688; U.S. Patent No. 8,254,568; U.S. Patent No. 8,291,480; U.S. Patent Application No. 13/558,249; U.S. Patent Application No. 13/566,969; PCT/US2007/026277; PCT/US2007/026279; and related patent applications. During the prosecution of Apple's own patents and patent applications, Apple has responded to Office Actions rejecting Apple's then-pending claims in view of the '678 Patent.
On information and belief, during the prosecution of Apple's own patents and patent applications, members of Apple's in-house legal team have met (both telephonically and in- person) with staff from the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the expressly stated purpose of discussing the '678 Patent and responding to rejections based upon the '678 Patent.
Rembrandt's complain finally notes that Apple has willfully infringed and/or does willfully infringe the '678 Patent. This is asking the court to triple the damages in this case is Apple is found guilty of infringement.
The patent infringement case presented in today's report was filed in the Texas Eastern District Court, Marshall Office. The Presiding Judge in this case is noted as being Judge Rodney Gilstrap.
As a side note, one the leading characteristics of a patent troll or non-practicing entity is acquiring a patent for the sole purpose of suing a high profile company for gain, as they make no product of any kind themselves. On the surface, it would appear that the Rembrandt Companies fit that characteristic to the letter.
A Note about Patent Trolls
On December 5, 2013, The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the "Innovation Act" bill on Thursday aimed at discouraging frivolous lawsuits by patent holders. The move was backed by companies like Apple, IBM, Cisco and Google. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) sponsored the bill, which won strong bipartisan support in passing by a 325-91 vote. Goodlatte said his bill "takes meaningful steps to address the abusive practices that have damaged our patent system and resulted in significant economic harm to our nation."
In Addition to the new act, 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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