Apple's FaceTime subject of renewed VoIP patent infringement lawsuit

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 2016
Apple on Friday was slapped with yet another patent lawsuit leveled by a non-practicing entity, this time a renewed complaint dealing with VoIP technologies targeting FaceTime video and audio software.


Straight Path Communication President and CEO David Jonas rings closing bell on company's first day of NYSE trading.
Source: Straight Path


In a lawsuit lodged with the Northern California District Court, Straight Path Group, a subsidiary of fixed wireless spectrum leasing firm Straight Path Communications, alleges Apple's FaceTime infringes on five patents previously owned by the NetSpeak Corporation relating to a product called WebPhone. The complaint is a renewal of Straight Path's 2014 case, which was dismissed without prejudice in 2015.

The properties in part cover realtime video and audio conferencing, as well as point-to-point communications between devices or applications with dynamic IP addresses. In particular, Straight Path is leveraging U.S. Patent Nos. 6,009,469, 6,108,704, 6,131,121, 6,701,365 and 7,149,208, each with claims dating back to 1995. Interestingly, each of the patents also survived re-examination by the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB) after facing challenges to their validity.

Straight Path asserts the owned properties solve a fundamental problem that arises when attempting to establish communication links between two computer programs, or alternatively individual devices, that are not permanently connected to a network. Specifically, the patents provide methods of determining whether a program is on a network, identifying that program's IP address and ultimately establishing point-to-point communication sessions with a second program.

As described in various patent embodiments, a first user might open a VoIP app to place a call to a second user. When that program connects to the internet, it transmits its current IP address to an offsite server, which simultaneously logs that IP information and marks the first app as "online." The server determines whether the second user is also online using the same method. If the second user is marked as "online," the server forwards their IP address information to the first user, who can then send a request to communicate. Importantly, when a user logs off, the database is updated to reflect their current status.

Apple infringes on the protected patents by using Apple Push Network services and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) technology to track user IP addresses and facilitate point-to-point communications via FaceTime, the complaint says. Further, Straight Path claims FaceTime hardware integration with iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac are in infringement of technology implemented in WebPhone some 20 years ago.

According to the document, NetSpeak's WebPhone was selected as an "Editor's Choice" by both PC Magazine and Computer Telephony Magazine, and "Product of the Year" by Internet Telephony magazine, in the mid-1990s. Despite these accolades, NetSpeak ceased to exist in 2001 after a merger with Adir Technologies, which itself liquidated all assets to Net2Phone in 2003.

Straight Path seeks unspecified damages related to all five patents-in-suit, reimbursement of legal expenses and other relief deemed fit by the court.

Today's suit is the second to target FaceTime this month, the first being a complaint filed with the patent holder-friendly Eastern Texas District Court by Uniloc.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,246member
    Has anyone created a website where patent trolls are publicly unmasked? Would be nice to make their lives as miserable as legally possible. 
  • Reply 2 of 14
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,556member
    In the UK, if you lose a lawsuit like this then you have to pay the other side's costs. 

    Probably why we don't have these ridiculous cases blocking the legal system and making patent lawyers absurdly rich.
    airbubblejbdragonlostkiwimagman1979jony0
  • Reply 3 of 14
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,721member
    Has anyone created a website where patent trolls are publicly unmasked? Would be nice to make their lives as miserable as legally possible. 
    These guys are hardly patent trolls.   They have a real business and own real patents.   The only question is are the patents valid in this case?   A troll uses questionable patents and other methods to bias a case in their favor.  I don't see anything of the sort going on here.  
  • Reply 4 of 14
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,721member

    Rayz2016 said:
    In the UK, if you lose a lawsuit like this then you have to pay the other side's costs. 

    Probably why we don't have these ridiculous cases blocking the legal system and making patent lawyers absurdly rich.
    That isn't always a good thing though.    Real companies get ripped off all the time and you aren't always certain of winning a lawsuit.   Just because you have patented something doesn't mean you can protect that IP properly in a court of law, loosing shouldn't result in financial punishment that a company might not withstand.  

    In in this case we have a company that has a real business and has ownership of some old patents.    If they believe their patents have been infringed they have the right to challenge the infringer.    That doesn't mean they will win, if they loose they shouldn't suffer undue hardship simply because they believe they have patents that are valid in this case.  
  • Reply 5 of 14
    sambirasambira Posts: 90member
    wizard69 said:

    Rayz2016 said:
    In the UK, if you lose a lawsuit like this then you have to pay the other side's costs. 

    Probably why we don't have these ridiculous cases blocking the legal system and making patent lawyers absurdly rich.
    That isn't always a good thing though.    Real companies get ripped off all the time and you aren't always certain of winning a lawsuit.   Just because you have patented something doesn't mean you can protect that IP properly in a court of law, loosing shouldn't result in financial punishment that a company might not withstand.  

    In in this case we have a company that has a real business and has ownership of some old patents.    If they believe their patents have been infringed they have the right to challenge the infringer.    That doesn't mean they will win, if they loose they shouldn't suffer undue hardship simply because they believe they have patents that are valid in this case.  
    Yes this would be a good thing.  If the company believes their patent to be valid then they should put their money where their patent is.  This would prevent those that have dubious patents to think twice about defending the patent.  As it is, I can buy some ridiculous patent and initiate litigation with no repercussion.  I loose nothing with the potential of gaining a lot.  I have no skin in the game outside of the initial investment of the patent.  That's why there are so many patent cases now-a-days. 
  • Reply 6 of 14
    tommikeletommikele Posts: 258member
    wizard69 said:
    These guys are hardly patent trolls.   They have a real business and own real patents.   The only question is are the patents valid in this case?   A troll uses questionable patents and other methods to bias a case in their favor.  I don't see anything of the sort going on here.  
    There has been no "real business" by this entity in 15 years. They certainly are patent trolls. Nor is there any real technology or product component involved. This is like patenting the order of words in a sentence. It's ridiculous and another reason most people wish dead lawyer jokes weren't jokes.
    edited June 2016 dhawkins541jbdragonmagman1979davenjony0
  • Reply 7 of 14
    owlboyowlboy Posts: 34member
    If only they had gone to the standards bodies.
  • Reply 8 of 14
    latifbplatifbp Posts: 544member
    wizard69 said:
    Has anyone created a website where patent trolls are publicly unmasked? Would be nice to make their lives as miserable as legally possible. 
    These guys are hardly patent trolls.   They have a real business and own real patents.   The only question is are the patents valid in this case?   A troll uses questionable patents and other methods to bias a case in their favor.  I don't see anything of the sort going on here.  
    Right... And patenting connection between two devices with dynamic IP addresses isn't general as fuck either /s
    magman1979
  • Reply 9 of 14
    latifbplatifbp Posts: 544member
    sambira said:
    wizard69 said:

    That isn't always a good thing though.    Real companies get ripped off all the time and you aren't always certain of winning a lawsuit.   Just because you have patented something doesn't mean you can protect that IP properly in a court of law, loosing shouldn't result in financial punishment that a company might not withstand.  

    In in this case we have a company that has a real business and has ownership of some old patents.    If they believe their patents have been infringed they have the right to challenge the infringer.    That doesn't mean they will win, if they loose they shouldn't suffer undue hardship simply because they believe they have patents that are valid in this case.  
    Yes this would be a good thing.  If the company believes their patent to be valid then they should put their money where their patent is.  This would prevent those that have dubious patents to think twice about defending the patent.  As it is, I can buy some ridiculous patent and initiate litigation with no repercussion.  I loose nothing with the potential of gaining a lot.  I have no skin in the game outside of the initial investment of the patent.  That's why there are so many patent cases now-a-days. 
    Start up costs and don't forget legal fees. It's a gamble to file a suit. I'm guessing much of the start up funding goes to preparing for said risky legal battle. Interesting business model >:)
    edited June 2016
  • Reply 10 of 14
    owlboy said:
    If only they had gone to the standards bodies.
    SIP is a standard.
  • Reply 11 of 14
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,849member
    FYI, the CEO's name is "Davidi Jonas", not David.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=238493598&privcapId=238375177

    Mr. Davidi Jonas has been the Chief Executive Officer and President of Straight Path Communications Inc. since April 2013. Mr. Jonas served as a Vice President of Business Development at IDT Corporation and Manager of Straight Path Spectrum since August 2012. He served as an Executive Vice President of Straight Path IP Group from November 2012. Mr. Jonas also served as the Rabbi of Kingsbridge Center of Israel in the Bronx, New York since 2010. He has been Chairman at Straight Path Communications Inc. since August 1, 2013 and has been its Director since April 2013. He served as Director of Straight Path IP Group since November 2012. Mr. Jonas taught Judaic Studies in SAR High School in Riverdale, New York from 2010 to 2012. He received rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School.


    edited June 2016
  • Reply 12 of 14
    I saw this name of the company and it looked familiar. If you owned a Mac Prior to 1999. You will know exactly what Netspeak or Webphone was a Application for the Macintosh used to make phone calls over the Internet using a SIP connection which very little people knew what that was at the time unless you were some uber super computer geek. It lagged many features and was very buggy and the technology at the time was far behind it's time and the company is just trying to profit off Apple..
    edited June 2016
  • Reply 13 of 14
    davendaven Posts: 506member
    OH how novel. When a caller initiates a call they are logged in as being online and when they logout they are logged as being offline. And the patent was upheld as novel and valid? I thought patents were supposed to be non-obvious to someone knowledgable in the industry. 
  • Reply 14 of 14
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 893member
    The USPO is handing patents out like candy for totally generic and obvious stuff. I suppose that I can obtain a patent for an energy conversion method and be able to sue half of the companies involved with nearly any sort of motor, motion, or battery. What's next, allowing a patent for perpetual motion?
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