Remote Desktop Expert Aqua Connect Sues Apple on Two Counts of Patent Infringement for using their Technology in AirPlay & more
Aqua Connect Inc. and their wholly-owned subsidiary Strategic Technology Partners are jointly suing Apple for patent infringement. The companies claim that Apple is infringing two patents relating to a user session in a Mach-derived system environment. The first patent is titled "Updating a user session in a Mach-derived computer system environment," and the second patent is titled "System, method and computer program product for updating a user session in a Mach-derived system environment."
The Aqua Connect website states that they've been delivering unique remote desktop solutions for Mac OS X since 2007. It further notes that "Aqua Connect allows companies and their systems administrators to consider a whole new cost-effective solution in enterprise computing for the Mac platform. A company's systems administrator can install Aqua Connect's solution on a Mac OS X machine and make applications available over the network. In addition to allowing for easy software deployment, the ability to connect from virtually any computing platform provides a powerful option for making any number of current Mac OS X applications available to users with a limited investment. In other words, users need not update their Mac hardware or switch to the Mac platform from existing PC clients to be able to access existing and newer Mac OS X applications."
The complaint in-part filed in the U.S. District Court Central District of California by Aqua Connect formally states that "Aqua Connect Terminal Server or ACTS 3.0 was the first fully functional, secure, and efficient remote desktop and terminal server solution for macOS. ACTS 3.0 was released on September 24, 2008, and was me with significant industry praise and commercial success.
Some of their customers include: University of California, University of Texas, Harvard University, Stanford University, Florida State University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Chicago, University of Utah, University of Nebraska, Washington University, Wake Forest University, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, NASA, Mayo Clinic, National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, among others.
Initially, ACTS 3.0 had Apple's full support. Apple's enterprise and government customers (and potential customers) needed a fully-functional, secure, efficient remote desktop and terminal server solution for macOS to be able to use Apple computers for their enterprise or organization. (A "terminal server" is an application that "serves" user terminals to other computer systems—i.e., it allows multiple users to remotely control different user sessions on the same computer at the same time). ACTS 3.0 was the only application that could fill this need at the time. As a result, Apple worked closely with Aqua Connect on development and sales.
In early 2011, however, Apple—abruptly and without explanation—stopped cooperating with Aqua Connect.
A few months later, in July of 2011, Apple launched a new major release of macOS, Mac OS X 10.7 (also known as "Lion"). Lion included a redesigned remote desktop and terminal server solution, "Screen Sharing." As explained below, Screen Sharing uses Aqua Connect's patented technology without Aqua Connect's permission. Every macOS release since Lion has included a Screen Sharing feature that uses Aqua Connect's patented technology without Aqua Connect's permission.
In addition, around the same time, Apple launched a new major release of its mobile operating system, iOS 5. iOS 5 included a new feature, "Airplay Mirroring," which allowed the screen of an iOS device such as an iPhone to be shared with another computing device (such as an Apple TV) over a computer network.
As explained [further into the complaint], AirPlay Mirroring uses Aqua Connect's patented technology without Aqua Connect's permission. Every iOS release since iOS 5 has included an AirPlay Mirroring feature that uses Aqua Connect's patented technology without Aqua Connect's permission.
Furthermore, with Lion's release, Apple changed the end user license agreement for its operating system. The new end user license agreement required that any connection to control a separate graphical desktop session of macOS (i.e., one other than the one displayed on the screen attached to the computer running it) "may only be made through the Screen Sharing feature of the Apple Software"—and not through third-party remote desktop applications offered by Apple's competitors (such as Aqua Connect):
This requirement has been included in the end user license agreements for each subsequent release of macOS."
You can read the technicalities of the lawsuit in the full Scribd document below courtesy of Patently Apple.
The patent infringement case presented in today's report was filed in the California Central District Court. At present, no Judge has been assigned to the case.
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