Apple has been sued by a Missouri patent troll for infringing their acquired patent relating to a smartwatch. According to MASA LLC, a letter was sent to Apple on February 5, 2014, notifying them that their new Apple Watch Products contained many of the same features claimed in their 2013 patent.
The Facts of the Case According to MASA's Formal Complaint
Masa, who is the owner of the 8,519,834 ('834) patent, "contains three independent claims and eleven dependent claims. Independent claim 1, and the claims that depend from it, generally cover a method of receiving and transmitting electronic signals, such as text messages or phone calls, on a vibrating device that can be strapped to a user's wrist, and alerting a user to the received electronic signal by vibrating the device.
Independent claims 6 and 10, and their dependent claims, generally claim a vibrating device worn on a user's wrist that receives and sends electronic messages, and the vibrating device is actuated to alert a user that the user has received a message.
The claimed vibrating device may include a display panel that can display electronic signals, such as a text message and a phone number associated with an individual that sent a text message.
Apple—a global consumer electronics seller and manufacturer—makes, uses, imports, sells, and offers to sell, among other things, personal computers, tablet computers, and cellular telephones, specifically its iPhone products.
On April 24, 2015, Apple released its new line of wearable technology called the Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition ("Apple Watch Products").
As shown by way of example in the photograph below, the Apple Watch Products are personal electronic devices that are coupled to a strap and designed to be worn on a user's wrist like a wrist watch.
The Apple Watch Products are designed to be paired via Bluetooth with Apple's iPhone products, and are designed to receive and respond to electronic signals such as text messages or phone calls that a user receives on his or her cellphone. This is depicted, for example, at page 27 of the Apple Watch User Guide Version 1.01 as shown below:
The Apple Watch Products can alert a user to the received electronic signal by creating a vibration on the user's wrist. A user can use a selector option switch (for example, the Apple Watch Products' Digital Crown) to select a stored phone number to send a pre- programmed text message in response.
The Apple Watch Products can also receive electronic signals and send notifications to a user regarding, among other things, date, time, calendar appointments, reminders, and emails.
Apple's customers and end-users of the Apple Watch Products perform the same methods claimed in the '834 patent and the Apple Watch Products have the same features claimed in the '834 patent.
Apple instructs its customers and the end-users of the Apple Watch Products how to use the Apple Watch Products in an infringing manner. Apple's instructions are provided in at least Apple's online User Guide. For example, Apple instructs a user on how to use the Digital Crown to select and send preset messages. Apple directs its customers to the online User Guide in the packaging of the Apple Watch Products.
In a letter dated February 5, 2014, counsel for the Inventors notified Apple of the '834 patent, and informed Apple that the Apple Watch Products contain many of the same features claimed in the '834 patent. Inventor's counsel included a copy of the '834 patent in this letter to Apple.
Apple has directly infringed claims 1-14 of the '834 patent under 35 U.S.C. § 271(a) by making, using, selling, and/or offering to sell, its Apple Watch Products within the United States.
Apple's online User Guide for the Apple Watch Products specifically directs and instructs its end-users on how to use the Apple Watch Products in an infringing manner, and specifically on how to select and send a pre-programmed text message through the use of the Digital Crown. Apple's acts of inducing infringement are ongoing.
Although no set amount of money is listed in the claim, they ask the court that should Apple be found guilty of patent infringement that the amount awarded to them be tripled due to Apple's infringement being willful, according to Masa's attorneys.
The patent infringement case presented in today's report was filed in the Missouri Eastern District Court by attorney's for MASA LLC on June 5, 2015. The Presiding Judge in this case is noted as being Judge Audrey G. Fleissig.
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