Texas based Patent Harbor filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple late yesterday. The patent infringement lawsuit concerns Apple's iMovie and the Mac products that run that particular Apple application.
According to Patent Harbor's court filing, Apple has allegedly infringed upon their acquired 1997 US patent number 5,684,514 entitled "Apparatus and method for assembling content addressable video."
At the heart of their case they state that "Upon information and belief, Apple manufactures, uses, sells, offers to sell and/or distributes computers, including, but not limited to, the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro and Mac mini (collectively "Apple Computers"), and its iMovie application. The iMovie application allows a user of the computer to take pre-recorded video and create a title or chapter list (similar to the scene selection menu provided on a commercial DVD/BD disc), where the title or chapter menu has a description (pictorial or written) of the video that will be accessed if the viewing user selects a particular title or chapter from the scene selection menu.
The Apple Computers with the iMovie software infringe claim 1 of the '514 Patent.
Further, Patent Harbor notes that they're in compliance with the requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 287, and is entitled to past damages. According to the filing, Harbor notes that "From the date of six years before this suit was filed up to April 4, 2008, there were no authorized sales of commercial products embodying the claims of the '514 Patent. As of April 4, 2008, there was a licensee, but that licensee had an obligation to mark. As of May 3, 2011, Patent Harbor entered into a license with a third party that sold DVD Recorders that Patent Harbor accused of infringing claim 1 of the '514 Patent, and that license did not contain an obligation to mark accused products with the '514 Patent number."
Patent Harbor is in-part seeking a judgment and order requiring Apple to pay Patent Harbor compensatory damages in an amount no less than a reasonable royalty. They're also seeking a judgment and order requiring Apple to pay Patent Harbor pre-judgment and post-judgment interest on the damages awarded.
The patent infringement case presented in today's report was filed in the Texas Eastern District Court, Tyler Office. At present, no Judge has been assigned to the case.
A Note about Patent Trolls
A 2011 study showed that Patent Trolls cost tech companies $29 Billion and a 2012 study made the case that patent trolling was out of control. In the first half 2013, Apple remained the #1 Target of Patent Trolls. In the second half of 2013 Apple remained in the top three.
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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