VoIP-Pal serves Apple in $2.8B patent infringement suit over iMessage & Wi-Fi Calling

in General Discussion
Patent holder VoIP-Pal on Tuesday announced that it has formally served Apple in an infringement lawsuit, claiming over $2.8 billion in damages from concepts used in services like Wi-Fi Calling and iMessage.

The lawsuit was originally launched on Feb. 9, but VoIP-Pal said it waited until May as it was trying -- and is still trying -- to reach a settlement through talks. The company is also pursuing actions against AT&T and Verizon, in total seeking some $7 billion if it can't negotiate out of court. The tally against Apple was calculated assuming a 1.25 percent royalty rate based on iPhone, iPad, and Mac profits.

The company is specifically accused of exploiting patents related to VoIP-Pal's "caller attribute classification and routing product design." In the case of iMessage, for instance, this involves the automatic switching system that will direct messages through Apple networks if both people are on Apple devices, or SMS if one person is not.

That system has previously proven controversial, and was in fact the subject of a failed lawsuit over problems switching from an iPhone to Android. iMessage links a person's Apple ID with their phone number, and people who switch away from iPhones can find that texts from iPhone-owning friends will go missing.

Although that case ended up dismissed, Apple was long barraged by public complaints about the underlying problem, and ultimately had to create Web tool to let people delink their phone numbers.

VoIP-Pal's case is likely to be settled out of court, presumably through patent licenses or a special agreement. Most such patent disputes don't go to trial, given the expenses involved and the potential penalties for losing.


  • Reply 1 of 15
    hmlongcohmlongco Posts: 275member
    And let me guess. VoIP-Pal makes.... nothing? And the patent in question essentially just describes an idea of "hey, if its supposed to go there send it there and if not, carry on."

    The patent system needs an overhaul, especially in regard to "non-manufacturing entities" who exist only to scam and extort money from those that actually produce valuable goods and services.

    edited May 2016 baconstangdysamoriawonkothesanediplicationjony0
  • Reply 2 of 15
    command_fcommand_f Posts: 340member
    I haven't seen the patents but, from this story and its links, there is surely prior art that invalidates the patent claims. Routing according to the caller's attributes could also be considered as "obvious", for example routing over heterogeneous systems always needs criteria for 'which way to go'. Call centres use the location "attribute" to route via Internet to the callee's country before popping out into the local telco at the last minute so saving money. PABXs and related systems will often route according to a subscriber's 'importance', dumping other calls in the process to pre-empt network resources. I struggle with the sense of the ability to patent concepts that naturally emerge as technology evolves.
  • Reply 3 of 15
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,191member
    Stop softening the terms, AI. It's a patent troll.

    a healthy system would make it illegal to conduct "business" with patents when that "business" was the holding of patents for licensing and infringement lawsuits. 
  • Reply 4 of 15
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    Just do away with software/procedural patents.
  • Reply 5 of 15
    techprod1gytechprod1gy Posts: 838member
    This type of news makes me ILLLLLLLLLLLLL
  • Reply 6 of 15
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,799member
    hmlongco said:
    And let me guess. VoIP-Pal makes.... nothing? 

    That's what it looks like but they got their patents through buying an engineering company called Digifonica which did the engineering and the science behind the patents. Digifonica built out a broadband test suite in 2003 with nodes in Vancouver to London and Denmark and wrote the actual software to do the testing of the suite. The software is probably out of date now but at least they did the hard science before applying for the patents.
    edited May 2016 roger wade
  • Reply 7 of 15
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,511member
    VoIP-Pal... reminds me of a someone...

  • Reply 8 of 15
    singularitysingularity Posts: 1,328member
  • Reply 9 of 15
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,351member
    This company is playing with Apple.  If it is worth billions with 20 engineers spending $17 millions developing it, why there is no company like Cisco interested in buying it? 
  • Reply 10 of 15
    sandorsandor Posts: 587member

    It is interesting that back in 2011 they had a Blackberry app.
    Why wouldn't they have just sued Blackberry over BB Messenger, rather than develop a competing app??
  • Reply 11 of 15
    rotateleftbyterotateleftbyte Posts: 1,497member
    Talk about obvious...
    The USPTO needs to be taken out and shot... Oh silly me they granted a patent to the NRA for that.

    I am really glad that I do not live in the USA. There is probably a patent on stepping outside your front door to pick up the mail that gets violated every day by a good portion of the population.
    Send the lot of them to jail for serial patent violations.

  • Reply 12 of 15
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,467member
    Patent holder VoIP-Pal on Tuesday announced that it has formally served Apple in an infringement lawsuit, claiming over $2.8 billion in damages from concepts used in services like Wi-Fi Calling and iMessage.
    I didn't think concepts could be patented...
  • Reply 13 of 15
    rezwitsrezwits Posts: 719member
    About 3 years ago I tried to have a conversation with an acquaintance about how patents, were so messed up and basically prevent people from working, because of getting sued over something you are simply just working on, that you don't even know someone patented, among other various gripes, like trolls, etc. When he said to my face, I don't really think there is anything wrong with the system, if you have to do those things in order to conduct business then that's just the way the system is, part of me understands this simpleton logic, but at that point I just said, ah so true, and ended the conversation. I have been having a such a troubled life about these things since the late 90's, it sucks...
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 14 of 15
    The sooner it is recognised that software development is as much art as it is engineering the better. You wouldn't grant a patent for someone saying "I've come up with the idea of putting paint on canvas" or even "I've come up with the idea of using a brush like this to put a shade of paint on a canvass like this in exactly this way leaving a mark of this type" because every single artist would have to spend years checking if anyone had already patented any of the brush strokes they plan to use. 

    There are some real innovations in algorithms and a mechanism to protect and reward those genuine innovations is needed (eg encryption schemes and implementations) but at the moment, the people responsible for granting patents seem incompetant - and if a patent slips through and starts being used to try to extort money like this, the claimant needs to be slapped down with punitive damages which could be used to better fund competent patent officers. 

    Its possible there is some really clever algorithm which has been directly lifted by Apple here, but unless there's evidence that the work has been 'borrowed', and if Apple have evidence the concept was derived independently / is obvious, this needs throwing out.

    i would hate to be a software developer today - it must be like trying to paint with both hands tied behind your back and having to give instructions to banks of lawyers to check and re-interpret before any mark is made on a canvass. 
  • Reply 15 of 15
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,486member
    From VoIP-Pal website:
    "Voip-Pal.com Inc. (“Voip-Pal,” or the “Company”) is a publicly traded holding corporation (OTC Pink: VPLM) that acquired Digifonica International (DIL) Limited (“Digifonica”) in 2013 in order to fund, co-develop and complete Digifonica's suite of patents.

    Digifonica is a technology development company founded in 2003 with the vision that the internet would be the future of all forms of telecommunications.  Digifonica assembled a team of twenty top engineers with expertise in Linux and Internet telephony which developed solutions for future connectivity using the internet.  Digifonica operationalized and tested its suite of software solutions with applications in five core areas of internet connectivity: ..."

    Yes, a holding company or more commonly called a patent troll.

    http://www.voip-pal.com/#!patents-detail/pafne List of patents they acquired from Digifonica they're using to extort money from companies actually providing VoIP-like services.

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