Apple TV Remote app target of latest Uniloc patent lawsuit

Posted:
in General Discussion
Continuing its withering legal barrage against Apple, so-called "patent troll" Uniloc on Wednesday filed a patent lawsuit claiming the Cupertino tech giant's Apple TV Remote app for iOS infringes on IP dating back to 1999.




Lodged with the patent holder friendly U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Uniloc's favorite venue for attacks against Apple, the suit alleges Apple's software is in infringement of a single patent reassigned by 3Com.

Filed for in 1999 and granted in 2001, U.S. Patent No. 6,216,158 for "System and method using a palm sized computer to control network devices" details a technique of remotely controlling internet-connected hardware from a handheld device.

Uniloc in its suit argues Apple infringes on multiple claims of the property by employing similar remote control methods with its Apple TV Remote app for iOS. Available for download through the App Store, Apple TV Remote provides users quick access to core Apple TV functions like media playback, user interface navigation and power control.

The latest version of the software launched in 2016 as an accompaniment to the fourth-generation Apple TV. Still offered today, the Apple TV Remote's GUI mimics the physical Siri Remote, complete with touchpad and dedicated soft buttons for play/pause, Siri and the recently added "TV" app.

Today's legal action is the latest in a string of Uniloc complaints against Apple technology and hardware. The non-practicing entity first filed against Apple in 2016, claiming Messages infringes on four owned patents. More recently, however, Uniloc has accelerated its filing rate to about one every two to three weeks.

Last month, the patent troll leveled two suits alleging Apple is in infringement of three separate patents with its AirPlay and Continuity features. Connected to today's lawsuit, the AirPlay litigation also names the Apple TV Remote app as infringing software.

In June, Uniloc lodged three suits alleging infringement of motion monitoring IP developed by tech inventor Philippe Kahn. Before that, the firm hit Apple with a lawsuit alleging infringement of three patents developed by HP and 3Com, while a suit in April leveraged another trio of patents.

Uniloc is one of the most prolific patent trolls in the U.S., and wields reassigned patents or vaguely worded original IP to sue high-profile tech firms in hopes of reaching an out of court settlement. Prior to Apple, the NPE's targets included Activision Blizzard, Aspyr, Electronic Arts, McAfee, Microsoft, Rackspace, Sega, Sony, Symantec and more.

Uniloc in today's filing seeks unspecified damages, reimbursement of legal fees and other relief deemed fit by the court.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    This is exactly how *not* to get a settlement offer from Apple.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 22
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Man, Apple should just spend 1B dollars on lawsuit and level every one of those mofos to the ground, take everything to the Supreme Court...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 22
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,124member
    Oddly Newton was discontinued before the patent was filed and seems like it was capable of functions they claim Apple is infringing on.
    Controlling network devices with well the newton was a bit big for palm size. 

    Spanading_returnsjbdragon
  • Reply 4 of 22
    gmacgmac Posts: 75member
    What's worse? The patent trolls or the lawyers that represent them?   Go away, try inventing something and when you've overcome the late nights of problem solving, engineering and lots of failures along the way and when finally a nugget of brilliance emerges then you can go get a patent. The late 90's were so messed up for patents. But back then they were a right of passage for startups (I was in one at the time and worked on a patent - we had the product to back it up though).  Back then having a patent was often a pre-requisite to raising money.  Now people like these trolls go and buy old vague 90's patents and extort companies that actually contribute to society.  
    curtis hannahmattinozwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 22
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,296member
    Software patents are BS and nobody should get them. Code is already protected via copyrights. If code is not directly stolen then there should be no violation. Issuing patents for ideas and not actual implementation is how we got to this point. Implementation is code and code is copyrighted. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 22
    I really don't see how this is "withering".
  • Reply 7 of 22
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,074member
    "System and method using a palm sized computer to control network devices" I consider the old TV remotes people had in the 70's and 80's to be prior art. They did the same thing as this patent. It's not a new idea and the old remotes could easily be considered palm sized computers with the "computer" circuits in the TV being network devices.
    melodyof1974davenjbdragon
  • Reply 8 of 22
    tokyojimutokyojimu Posts: 420member
    Maybe Apple will be forced to change this awful remote?
  • Reply 9 of 22
    That Eastern Texas court has enabled fraudulent patent suits for years. I blame that court and its judges more than those companies who take advantage of it.
    tokyojimujbdragon
  • Reply 10 of 22
    Do all these companies that insist they have a patent pertaining to a palm computer drvice forget apple designed, sold and discontinued the Newton before the first palm device was in the shops. Oh and it had handwriting recognition too

    fearures of the first newton available in 1993 can be found here. No wifi but options to add internet connection via ethernet. 

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/MessagePad

    Apple didn't start in the handheld field with the development of the iPod and iPhone.  They've been active in that field for a long time. 
    edited August 2017 jbdragon
  • Reply 11 of 22
    rob53 said:
    "System and method using a palm sized computer to control network devices" I consider the old TV remotes people had in the 70's and 80's to be prior art. They did the same thing as this patent. It's not a new idea and the old remotes could easily be considered palm sized computers with the "computer" circuits in the TV being network devices.
    When I was 10 our family got our first remote control TV. I thought, "first pong and now this:......
    pscooter63
  • Reply 12 of 22
    davendaven Posts: 540member
    That Eastern Texas court has enabled fraudulent patent suits for years. I blame that court and its judges more than those companies who take advantage of it.
    The Eastern Texas court is good ol' boy central. It is the prime slime district because many of the plaintiff attorneys are related to the judges by marriage or blood and are therefore looked kindly on.
  • Reply 13 of 22
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,473member
    Issuing patents for ideas and not actual implementation is how we got to this point. Implementation is code and code is copyrighted. 
    That's the problem.  But it's not limited to code.   Patents are not supposed to be issued for ideas - anyone can patent any idea:  I have an idea for a flying car, a booth that supports time travel, using my mind to control an app, pressing my nose to order ketchup, having a device that creates light without using electricity, a windmill that's not only a turbine, but also stores electricity in a battery contained within its supports that then transmits that electricity wirelessly to the grid, an app that maximizes my investments without any input from me, an app that finds the perfect concubine, etc. but it's all meaningless - it's the implementation that counts.   The patent office is giving away patents based on obvious ideas: electronic versions of file cabinets, storing data, pressing a button on a remote, etc.   Amazon got a patent for one-click which they never should have gotten.   Isn't storing an address obvious?   Even Apple had to pay Amazon for one-click ordering.  Ridiculous.  
  • Reply 14 of 22
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,473member
    sog35 said:
    Apple should send some 'muscle' to these lawyers and patent trolls.

    Nothing illegal, but just remind these guys that Apple has $260 billion.
    Which is exactly why they're going after Apple in the first place. 
    gatorguy
  • Reply 15 of 22
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,154member
    That Eastern Texas court has enabled fraudulent patent suits for years. I blame that court and its judges more than those companies who take advantage of it.
    If you have to file in the eastern Texas court, your patents must really not be worth crap.
  • Reply 16 of 22
    anton zuykovanton zuykov Posts: 1,039member
    gmac said:
    What's worse? The patent trolls or the lawyers that represent them?
    The patent trolls ARE lawyers. They know that the system is not ideal, and they know how to make money off of that system.
  • Reply 17 of 22
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,123member
    Software patents are BS and nobody should get them. Code is already protected via copyrights. If code is not directly stolen then there should be no violation. Issuing patents for ideas and not actual implementation is how we got to this point. Implementation is code and code is copyrighted. 
    The problem is patent holders are suing for ideas expressed in their patents and the courts allow them to. This specific patient covers a specific implementation with the palm sized device specified as running a Java Virtual Machine (Heck. even Android runs a Dalvik VM and not z Java VM) and communicating with Jini. I have no issue with software patents but I do believe they should be interpreted much more narrowly.
  • Reply 18 of 22
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,275member
    foggyhill said:
    Man, Apple should just spend 1B dollars on lawsuit and level every one of those mofos to the ground, take everything to the Supreme Court...
    Agree. And someone should out these dingleberries. They need to be publicly and personally shamed. Hell, if Trump says criminals should not be treated gently and respectfully by police, why should we shrink from a little well-aimed harassment?
  • Reply 19 of 22
    tokyojimu said:
    Maybe Apple will be forced to change this awful remote?
    As I read it, the lawsuit is not about the remote; it's about the Remote App.
  • Reply 20 of 22
    sog35 said:
    daven said:
    That Eastern Texas court has enabled fraudulent patent suits for years. I blame that court and its judges more than those companies who take advantage of it.
    The Eastern Texas court is good ol' boy central. It is the prime slime district because many of the plaintiff attorneys are related to the judges by marriage or blood and are therefore looked kindly on.
    probably married their first cousins.
    I'd say that's too many steps removed.

    "Cletus, you're the best husband-son I've ever had"
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