Apple's Messages target of new Uniloc patent suit

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 2016
Serial patent lawsuit filer and non-practicing entity Uniloc on Tuesday filed suit against Apple, claiming Messages app and iMessage backend service features infringe on multiple owned voice over IP patents.




Lodged with the Eastern Texas District Court, Uniloc's claims leverage four patents providing for an instant voice messaging system facilitated through VoIP protocols. At issue, Unicode says, is an audio transmission component of iMessage, and consequently all Messages apps, first introduced alongside iOS 8 in 2014.

Uniloc cites U.S. Patent Nos. 7,535,890, 8,995,433, 8,724,622 and 8,243,723, all related inventions titled "System and method for instant VoIP messaging." The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office initially granted the '890 patent to Ayalogic in 2009, a now defunct firm marketing communications solutions for gaming platforms. Subsequent assignments went to patent licensing firm Empire IP.

The Uniloc patents cover an instant voice messaging system capable of delivering digitized audio files from one user to another via an offsite server. Apple's implementation uses similar technology to record short audio snippets in the Messages app, route the resulting data file through its cloud-based iMessage service and ultimately deliver the message to an end user for in-app playback. A video counterpart was also introduced in iOS 8, but the feature is not named in Uniloc's suit.

With a storied history of high-profile patent suits under its belt, Uniloc is known as a voracious complainant with a penchant for filing in the patent holder-friendly Texas court. The firm has over the past few years filed dozens of lawsuits against big-name tech companies including Activision Blizzard, Aspyr, Electronic Arts, McAfee, Microsoft, Rackspace, Sega, Sony, Symantec and more. In 2009, Uniloc won a $388 million jury verdict against Microsoft over an unrelated patent claim. That ruling was later overturned, prompting an out of court settlement.

In its suit against Apple, Uniloc seeks unspecified damages, reimbursement of legal expenses and miscellaneous relief deemed fit by the court.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    staticx57staticx57 Posts: 405member
    Eastern Texas District Court says it all.
    baconstangEsquireCatsjackansi
  • Reply 2 of 16
    Except iMessages does not use VoIP protocols it uses the same media protocols as having a video or audio on a webpage which was fought in court previously and the complainant lost setting s precedent that essentially invalidates this claim. I think someone needs to go to Texas and school those inbreds on how technology works.
  • Reply 3 of 16
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,509member
    Here's something that might change the way Apple and Google and other large companies handle these 3rd party patent claims: 

    SCOTUS yesterday lowered the bar for the determination of willful infringement and treble damages. It's no longer good enough for a company to claim they had reason to believe they were not infringing. This may lead companies to stop ignoring offers to license from some non-practicing entities.
    edited June 2016
  • Reply 4 of 16
    While you are in East Texas, make sure to stop by the Samsung Ice Skating rink. The only open-air ice skating rink anywhere nearby! Samsung and other tech companies have been sponsoring miiiiiilions of dollars of events in that area for the past decade. Coincidence? I think not...
    dysamoriaanton zuykov
  • Reply 5 of 16
    Literally just watched John Oliver's Patent monologue on YouTube moments before seeing this headline.   These patent trolls are absolutely ridiculous.  
  • Reply 6 of 16
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    "Serial patent lawsuit filer and non-practicing entity"... Seriously, just go back to calling them what they are: Patent Trolls.
  • Reply 7 of 16
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    Test

    so this website doesn't work on iPad? Nice.  
    edited June 2016
  • Reply 8 of 16
    loquiturloquitur Posts: 134member
    gatorguy said:
    Here's something that might change the way Apple and Google and other large companies handle these 3rd party patent claims: 

    SCOTUS yesterday lowered the bar for the determination of willful infringement and treble damages. It's no longer good enough for a company to claim they had reason to believe they were not infringing. This may lead companies to stop ignoring offers to license from some non-practicing entities.
    Not necessarily -- see, for counterpoint, a review that 3X damages will *not* obtain for most cases:  http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/06/supreme-court-says-win-for-patent-holders-wont-embolden-patent-trolls/.  Wherein, when a troll gets a bogus patent for practicing some obvious notion *on the internet*, or something non-novel within a ordinary techie skill set, that will not trigger this test.  If Apple uses a technique independently that they didn't think was worth patenting, or that is "garden variety" engineering, they won't be estopped this way.
  • Reply 9 of 16
    ppietrappietra Posts: 288member
    so they patented what is basically voicemail but over IP
  • Reply 10 of 16
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,366member
    This will be invalidated. It's obvious and trivial. They are attaching an audio file to a text. Dumb.
    VisualSeed
  • Reply 11 of 16
    VisualSeedVisualSeed Posts: 217member
    Interesting that I personally worked on a chat application that sent recorded audio snippets back in 1998. I also believe that iChat supported sending all types of digital files including movies and sounds, just as Skype and AIM did back in the early 2000s. 
  • Reply 12 of 16
    VisualSeedVisualSeed Posts: 217member
    jkichline said:
    This will be invalidated. It's obvious and trivial. They are attaching an audio file to a text. Dumb.
    I'd even argue that visual voicemail does the same thing just in a slightly different interface. 
  • Reply 13 of 16
    tmaytmay Posts: 5,825member
    gatorguy said:
    Here's something that might change the way Apple and Google and other large companies handle these 3rd party patent claims: 

    SCOTUS yesterday lowered the bar for the determination of willful infringement and treble damages. It's no longer good enough for a company to claim they had reason to believe they were not infringing. This may lead companies to stop ignoring offers to license from some non-practicing entities.

    From the Ars Technica link that loquitur provided;


    "While not spelling out a new formula for judges to consider, the justices said that enhanced damages should not be granted in "garden-variety cases." Because of that, the court noted, patent trolls won't flourish under today's holding.

    Respondents and their amici are concerned that allowing district courts unlimited discretion to award up to treble damages in infringement cases will impede innovation as companies steer well clear of any possible interference with patent rights. They also worry that the ready availability of such damages will embolden “trolls.” Trolls, in the patois of the patent community, are entities that hold patents for the primary purpose of enforcing them against alleged infringers, often exacting outsized licensing fees on threat of litigation. Respondents are correct that patent law reflects “a careful balance between the need to promote innovation” through patent protection, and the importance of facilitating the “imitation and refinement through imitation” that are “necessary to invention itself and the very lifeblood of a competitive economy.” Bonito Boats, Inc. v. Thunder Craft Boats, Inc., 489 U. S. 141, 146 (1989). That balance can indeed be disrupted if enhanced damages are awarded in garden-variety cases. As we have explained, however, they should not be.

    With that in mind, the justices ordered the lower courts to take another crack at the damages awarded in two cases."

    Looks like this is targeted at "exceptional" cases only.



  • Reply 14 of 16
    boyrobotboyrobot Posts: 3member
    Uniloc is not a non-practicing entity. Please use publicly available sources to determine licensing activity before trying to capitalize on the "patent troll" cliché. Otherwise you will seem like a sloppy journalist with a pedestrian deadline to meet.
    dasanman69
  • Reply 15 of 16
    boyrobotboyrobot Posts: 3member
    >> In 2009, Uniloc won a $388 million jury verdict against Microsoft over an unrelated patent claim. That ruling was later overturned, prompting an out of court settlement. 

    No, you're sloppily implying bad facts again. The $388M was overturned under amazingly suspicious and rare circumstances (overturning a jury verdict is rare enough, but in this case the pro-Microsoft judge refused to recuse his clerk who was a former Microsoft intern). The judge overturned the jury verdict, but the Court of Appeals disciplined the pro-Microsoft trial judge and reinstated the verdict. The overturning of the trial court's J.N.O.V. ruling was what prompted Microsoft to settle; it was not, as you sloppily imply, the overturning of the J.N.O.V. which prompted them to settle. 

    You seem afraid to call Microsoft a pirate, but you have no problem writing poorly researched articles trying to brand a less powerful company with a trendy insult. 

    "The decision against Microsoft was subsequently overturned on September 29, 2009, when Judge Smith vacated the jury's verdict and ruled in favour of Microsoft again, saying the jury "lacked a grasp of the issues before it and reached a finding without a legally sufficient basis".[14] Uniloc appealed the judge's decision, alleging bias and in 2011 the jury verdict was reinstated against Microsoft." -- wiki 
  • Reply 16 of 16
    Here you go. Here's how other another online publication which covers so-called "patent trolls" responsibly corrects its story after having glossed over some of the litigation history: 

    "Correction July 8th, 7:15PM ET: The Supreme Court did not overturn the earlier patent case, as this article initially stated; it denied review, leaving intact a ruling overturning the judgement." 

    http://www.theverge.com/2016/7/8/12132806/apple-25m-patent-lawsuit-settlement-network-1-mirror-worlds ;

    You're not too proud to correct your story in similar fashion, are you?
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