Core Wireless, headquartered in Luxembourg with an office in Texas, had their attorney Bunsow, De Mory, Smith & Allison file a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple on Wednesday. What makes this an interesting case is that many of the patents listed in this case are Nokia patents. They note on their website that Core Wireless holds one of the world's largest patent portfolios related to mobile communications networks – and that "all 2,000 patents and applications were originally filed by Nokia, a renowned innovator and widely acknowledged key contributor to the development of mobile telephony." A Yahoo! News report published last year quoted the European Commission's Joaguin Almonia starkly stating that "If Nokia were to take illegal advantage of its patents in the future, we will open an antitrust case. But I sincerely hope we will not have to." In that statement, Mr. Almonia pushed things to the next level by using the "patent troll" phrase that is typically not mentioned by senior executives since it's a fairly loaded term. Although Nokia was legally smart enough to sell their portfolio before Microsoft officially acquired Nokia, they certainly knew that selling their patents to another patent troll would result in the same thing – patent troll driven lawsuits against their enemies such as Apple. This stinks to high heaven and you have to wonder if the European Commission will start an action against them or bow out because they were legally out maneuvered.
The Six Patents that Apple Allegedly Infringes
The formal complaint filed in a Texas Court against Apple this week on behalf of Core states that Apple has infringed upon six of their patents as listed below:
UP Patent 8,713,476 entitled: "Computing Device with Improved User Interface for Applications."
US Patent 8,498,671 entitled: "Mobile Telephone Device with User-Selectable Content Displayed and Updated during Idle Time."
US Patent 8,434,020 entitled: "Computing Device with Improved User Interface for Applications."
US Patent 7,072,667 entitled: "Location Information Service for A Cellular Telecommunications Network"
US Patent 5,907,823 entitled: "Method and Circuit Arrangement for Adjusting the Level or Dynamic Range of an Audio Signal," and,
US Patent 7,693,552 entitled: "Text Messaging Device," as noted below.
The General Allegations
According to the formal complaint, "Apple has directly and indirectly infringed and continues to directly and indirectly infringe each of the '476, '671, '020, '552, '667, and '823 patents ("patents-in-suit") [as noted above] by engaging in acts constituting infringement including without limitation by one or more of making, using, selling and offering to sell, in this District and elsewhere in the United States, and importing into this District and elsewhere in the United States Apple's iPhone and iPad products ("Apple's Accused Products").
Apple is doing business in the United States, and, more particularly, in the Eastern District of Texas by making, using, selling, importing, and/or offering for sale Apple's Accused Products, including without limitation Apple's iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S, iPad, iPad 2, third and fourth generation iPads, iPad Mini, second generation iPad Mini, and iPad Air that infringe one or more of the patent claims involved in this action."
They further noted that "Apple's acts of infringement have caused damages to Core Wireless and Core Wireless is entitled to recover from Apple the damages sustained by Core Wireless as a result of Apple's wrongful acts in an amount subject to proof at trial."
Among other requests for relief from the court, Core Wireless wants a mandatory future royalty payable on each future product sold by Apple that is found to infringe one or more of the patents asserted herein and on all future products which are not colorably different from products found to infringe.
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 and Action Being Taken
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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