Patent troll targets Apple with lawsuit over alleged FaceTime infringements
Patents are meant to protect valuable intellectual property and give a company an edge over its competitors when it develops a new technology. Once that technology becomes commonplace in an industry, however, the patents lose their value since everyone is already using some variation of that same technology. This is where the so called “patent trolls” come in. Those are companies that buy old patents from the original patent holders that want to make some profit of them, once they deem them unenforceable. The patent troll then starts filing lawsuits, based on those broad patents, against companies that might be infringing on them in any form. The goal is to get the defendant to settle for some compensation (money) in order to avoid the hassle of a court case that can go on for months. While completely legal, this practice is frowned upon, to say the least, but that’s not stopping companies to go for some easy profit.
Uniloc has amassed over 600 patents, the one that’s being used for the lawsuit against Apple was bought from Hewlett-Packard in 2015 but was originally granted in 2003. According to the court filing, the technology Apple is using for its FaceTime servers to establish the connection between users is within the scope of U.S. Patent No. 8,539,552. Because Apple has been selling devices with FaceTime for years and profiting off Uniloc’s patented technology (allegedly), Uniloc wants the court to decide what compensation it should receive for the “damages suffered”. To be clear, Uniloc’s sole business is patent lawsuits and it’s well-known within the US for its dealings with Microsoft, Sony, Electronic Arts and many others, including multiple previous cases against Apple as well.
The complaint for patent infringement was filed yesterday, October 18, and is one of 42 patents-in-litigation that Uniloc is currently involved with. Others include general technologies such as “Data delivery through portable devices” and “System and method for instant VoIP messaging”.