A New Patent Troll Lawsuit Claims that Apple's 'Messages' App Infringes their Acquired Patent from Voice Express
A new patent troll lawsuit was filed against Apple in the patent troll friendly Texas Eastern district Court last week. The troll named Seatoun Media is using a patent originally assigned to Voice Express Corporation by the U.S. Patent Office in 2002. The lawsuit never mentions the original assignee. They claim that Apple iDevices using messaging software infringes their acquired patent. The application titled "Point to point voice message processor, method and recording/playback device" relates to and describes an ancient point of sale system. An excerpt of this patent is noted below:
"It is a purpose of the present invention to provide for a simple and flexible method and system that will permit voice message recording/playback devices to be ordered and recorded during one phone call without the need for expensive switching and voice processing hardware and similarly to provide a flexible system which permits voice message recording/playback devices to be recorded at a point of sale whether that point of sale is accessed by way of a phone call or a personal visit.
It is also a purpose of the present invention to provide a system and method that permits an agent at the point of sale to select independently the point of delivery, instruct personnel at the point of delivery directly and control the time to transfer the voice message from the point of sale to the point of delivery.
It is also a purpose of the present invention to permit the customer to select personally and the sales agent to request personally from the delivery site the maximum recording length of the voice message recording/playback device, the model, package design of the voice message recording/playback device, as well as to select any accessory which the customer wishes to have delivered with it."
Voice Express's original filing noted that patent "FIG. 6 is a perspective view, on an enlarged scale illustrating the presently preferred structure of a voice message recording/playback device and the presently preferred structure of a direct record input device in accordance with the present invention." The preferred structure of 2002 doesn't look like a mobile phone or cell phone. It was a customized device for a POS system. .
In the eyes of Seatoun Media, this somehow translates to Apple infringing a modern messaging system that has no connection whatsoever to a POS Point of Sales system. Abandoning the real purpose of this invention, the law firm will focus their case entirely on playing the legalese tango with patent claims to provide the invention with magical powers to apply to things never conceived by the original inventor. The law firm owns no "real product" in the market for sale. The patent was acquired solely for the purpose of suing tech companies with deep pockets.Of course the law firm will take the stance that they're job is to defend the IP of the world. .
The war over Patent Trolls continues in the courts. For interest sake, you could check out Patently Apple's December report titled "The Patent Case of the Decade Could End Most Patent Troll Litigation in Eastern Texas Courts against Apple & others."
The Full Formal Seatoun Media Complaint
"Apple makes, uses, or sells a variety of electronic devices, including smartphones and tablets.
Apple has directly infringed, and continues to directly infringe, at least one claim of the [6,356,626] '626 Patent under 35 U.S.C. § 271, literally and/or under the doctrine of equivalents. Discovery is ongoing, and the claims have not yet been construed, but at this preliminary stage, Apple infringes, and continues to infringe, claims 1through 19 of the '626 Patent, literally and/or under the doctrine of equivalents. Defendant's infringing acts include, but are not limited to: making, using, selling, and offering to sell its electronic devices and software.
These Apple products, among other infringing features, provide the capability to allow a user to record and/or play back voice messages through a communication link connection of an Apple phone, tablet, or pod using Messaging or iMessage software. A non-limiting list of these products, at this preliminary stage, include the iPhone 4 and its variants, the iPhone 5 and its variants, the iPhone 6 and its variants, the iPhone 7 and its variants, the iPod Touch and its variants, the iPad and its variants, the iPad 2 and its variants, the iPad 3 and its variants, the iPad4 and its variants, the iPad Air and its variants, the iPad Air 2 and its variants, the iPad Mini and its variants, and the Messaging and/or iMessage software.
As one example, Apple currently makes, uses, and sells the Apple iPhone 6 and iMessage. These products infringe at least one claim of the '626 Patent, at least by providing the capability to record and play voice messages through a communications link.
Apple has indirectly infringed at least one claim of the '626 Patent, through induced infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271. Apple was notified of its infringement of the '626 Patent as on October 16, 2016. Nevertheless, Apple continues its acts of indirect infringement by continuing to actively induce consumers to practice the invention claimed in the '626 Patent. Apple instructs consumers to use Apple iPhones with iMessage, within the scope of the '626 Patent. For example, consumers are induced to use their iPhone 6 with iMessage to record and play voice messages through a communications link.
With knowledge of the '626 Patent, Apple has indirectly infringed the '626 Patent by inducing the direct infringement by consumers, by enabling, instructing, and encouraging consumers to make and use the infringing apparatus described in at least one claim of the '626 Patent, while aware that their use is infringing.
Apple's use of the technology claimed in the '626 Patent is without license or authorization from Seatoun.
Seatoun has been damaged by Apple's infringement of the '626 Patent.
Apple was notified of its infringement of the '626 Patent as on October 16, 2016, and its ongoing infringement is willful."
The patent infringement case presented in today's report was filed in the Texas Eastern District Court. At present, no Judge has been assigned to the case.
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