A patent troll by the name of Penovia LLC has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple. The lawsuit claims that Apple's iPad infringes their acquired patent that's about a maintenance technique that monitors office machine status without personal attention. This is the typical type of case that the Federal Trade Commission is now studying to find ways to assist tech companies from having to waste their time fighting such suits.
Penovia LLC is suing Apple for allegedly infringing patent 5,822,221 (the '221 patent) titled "Office machine monitoring device."
The problem that the '221 patent was designed to solve is described as follows: "Office machine products such as laser printers copiers and computers are well known in the art. These office machines generate status information that typically can be monitored manually or through connection to a computer, either directly or indirectly over telephone line communications. However, these monitoring techniques are not economically justifiable for the office machine maintenance industry because of the costs involved in sending a maintenance person to monitor the office machine or in establishing a computer monitoring station with telephone line access. Therefore, it is desirable to have a maintenance technique that monitors office machine status without personal attention or expensive computer and telecommunications attachments."
The question is: What does this have to do with an iPad?
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.
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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