Oh boy, here we go again! Word on the street today is that Apple has once again found itself in a pot of hot legal water — as one of the company’s previous legal foes reportedly lodged yet another patent infringement lawsuit against the Silicon Valley tech-giant.
The newly revitalized lawsuit, filed with the Northern District Court of California, was brought by Straight Path Group — the subsidiary of Straight Path Communications, who, in the court filing, alleges that Apple infringed on a total of five of its patents. All of the patents appear to be related, in some way, to Straight Path’s WebPhone platform.
It should be noted, first of all, that this new case is merely a resurrected claim from Straight Path — the same company who originally filed a similar complaint back in 2014, prior to it being dismissed by the court just a year later.
In any event, the patents that Straight Path Group is leveraging in this case — namely, U.S. Patent Nos. 6,009,469, 6,108,704, 6,131,121, 6,701,365 and 7,149,208 — all appear to cover (at least to a certain extent) the concepts of real-time video or audio conferencing, a la FaceTime. In addition, they also cover a quote unquote “point-to-point communications between devices containing dynamic IP addresses.”
While the claims appear to date as far back as 1995, it’s interesting to note that the aforementioned patents have all been previously challenged by other entities — even though they all survived extensive re-examinations by the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB) because of those challenges.
Accordingly, Straight Path has remained adamant that its patents are not only fundamental in solving problems that occur when a connection is trying to be established between two devices, and also whether or not a software program is indeed connected to a network, identifying the respective user’s IP address, and then establishing a P2P connection with them.
In various incarnations, the patents are described as essential elements of establishing connectivity between two different users of the same communications application. For instance, when the program on one end connects to the internet, transmits signal to the application’s server, and then, utilizing the requisite IP information, determines whether or not to mark the user as “Online.” On the receiving end, this same process would manifest and determine the other user’s current availability status.
Apple’s proprietary Apple Push Network service, in conjunction with a dedicated Session Initiation Protocol (SIG) — which is used to track each user’s IP address to effectively establish a point-to-point connection — is the technology that the Silicon Valley tech-giant is accused by Straight Path of infringing on.
Straight Path Group is seeking “unspecified damages” from Apple in the inherent case — in particular, related to all five patents, coverage of legal fees, court costs, and “other relief” as determined by the court. In other words, Straight Path — a non-practicing, patent-only entity — is looking to have its cake and eat it, too.