It doesn’t seem as if Apple will ever be able to escape the seemingly incessant influx of lofty, patent-related courtroom battles that constantly fall upon its shoulders as of late.
In the most recent episode of ‘Silicon Valley courtroom clash’, it appears that yet another non-practicing patent troll, known as 511 Innovations, Inc., has launched a legal battle against Apple — alleging that the Cupertino-company’s iPhone’s proximity sensor “infringes” on five of its patents.
The patents in question, filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, are Nos. 6,307,629, 7,110,096, 7,397,541, 8,472,012, and 8,786,844 — which, filed over the course of a 13-year period between 1999 and 2012, each in their own way relate to “various methods for measuring optical characteristics of an object” — including, but not limited to, various aspects having to do with color saturation, opacity, and positioning of objects.
Unsurprisingly enough, the case was filed this week in — you guessed it! — the iconic Eastern Texas District Court — which has become somewhat of a treasure trove for serial patent filers looking to target big-brand tech-giants with the hopes of cashing in given the district’s notorious technological “incompetence.”
According to court documents, there appears to be a rather sketchy history of where the patents originated from — and how they’ve migrated from firm to firm over the years.
Supposedly, 511 Innovations originally acquired the associated patents from another firm called JJL Technologies — who, unlike 511 Innovations, has apparently sold products, including “world-class spectrophotometers.” From there, 511 Innovations is said to have licensed the patents to another firm, Spectral Sensors, whose website has been “under construction” ever since. To complicate matters even more, JJL Technologies — the very first patent holder — had themselves acquired the patents in question from a firm known as LJ Laboratories.
Lots of patent shuffling going on there, as you can see, but from what court documents have revealed, 511 is now the sole patent holder.
In any case, you might be wondering what 511 Technologies is looking for as compensation in the case? And the answer is perhaps as bizarre as the nature of the case itself. 511 wants a full sales ban on iPhones, iPads, and all other devices in Apple’s line of products that feature a proximity sensor built in. The firm is also hoping to cash in, of course — to the tune of damages amounting to “reasonable royalties” — plus interest and fees for good measure.
Apple has increasingly found itself in hot legal water in recent years — with firms we’ve never even heard of coming to the table, left and right, with claims of patent infringement against the California-based tech-titan. Unfortunately, these types of cases can be rather costly, so it’s usually in Apple’s best interest to try and settle out of court, if possible.
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens with this one..
What do you think about this latest patent lawsuit? Let us know in the comments!