Apple claims VoIP-Pal secretly lobbied judges, USPTO officials in patent case

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 11
Apple is looking to reverse a Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruling upholding the validity of certain patents owned by VoIP-Pal, alleging the VoIP technologies firm secretly lobbied officials presiding over the case without Apple's knowledge.




The claims arrive some two months after the PTAB upheld multiple claims in two VoIP-Pal patents being leveraged in a patent infringement suit against Apple's iMessage and certain Wi-Fi based voice calling features.

According to Apple's lawyers, VoIP-Pal conducted ex-parte discussions with the case's administrative judges, its chief judge and the cabinet secretary in charge of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, reports The Recorder. Importantly, VoIP-Pal's contact with the officials went undisclosed to Apple and allegedly resulted in the substitution of three judges who previously issued a preliminary ruling in Apple's favor.

"The record is irrefutable that the board took actions adverse to Apple after receiving Voip-Pals unauthorized ex parte communications asking for that precise result, Adam Seitz, Apples lawyer, wrote in a brief. "The inference of prejudice is inescapable."

Apple says it knew of the communications last May. Why the company failed to notify judges or other PTO officials prior to the case's conclusion is unknown.

Breaking down the series of events that led to the judges' replacement, The Register points to six letters former VoIP-Pal CEO Thomas E. Sawyer sent to PTAB Chief Judge David Ruschke and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Each letter, posted to the firm's website last year, is critical of the PTO's handling of the Apple case.

Sawyer in a letter dated May 1, 2017, identified potential conflicts of interest between Apple and the administrative judges presiding over the case. Two of the three jurists worked at law firm Fish & Richardson, which represented Apple in a separate patent case, with one judge directly tied to court proceedings. The third judge previously worked at AT&T, which was also involved in the Fish litigation.

Though the judges were replaced without explanation Sawyer continued to send complaints to Ruschke, asking why the preliminary ruling in Apple's favor was not nullified. He later escalated his concerns to Ross.

VoIP-Pal in past public communications claims Sawyer acted independently of the company. However, Sawyer in an October letter says he continues to work for VoIP-Pal as an advisor, adding that he consults with company lawyers. Officially, the former executive served as CEO from 2013 to 2014, then as a special advisor and consultant until April 2017.

Apple in its brief alleges Voip-Pal "knew about and assisted in Dr. Sawyers ex parte communications with the board designed to influence this proceeding," flouting procedural rules. While Apple was made aware of Sawyer's May and October letters, VoIP-Pal failed to disclose communications sent in June, July and August.

According to the report, Apple is not accusing the PTAB of wrongdoing in its decision to replace the three administrative judges. Though a reason was not specified, it can be assumed the board was acting on VoIP-Pal's allegations of bias.

"The common-sense problem with removing a judge (or an entire panel of judges) in the face of bias allegations after a substantive decision has been rendered is that the newly appointed adjudicators necessarily assume the task of fixing what led to the substitution in the first place (a task that VoIP-Pals subsequent ex parte communications demanded), the filing reads.

Apple is requesting the board vacate its decision or find in favor of Apple as a sanction against VoIP-Pal for its alleged misdeeds, the report said.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,948member
    If they knew this was happening then why didn’t they say something before the verdict was reached?
  • Reply 2 of 10
    Rayz2016 said:
    If they knew this was happening then why didn’t they say something before the verdict was reached?

    If the verdict goes in your favor, then there’s no need to bring it up. If it doesn’t, then you have another card to play. 
    davenjony0icoco3
  • Reply 3 of 10
    Rayz2016 said:
    If they knew this was happening then why didn’t they say something before the verdict was reached?

    If the verdict goes in your favor, then there’s no need to bring it up. If it doesn’t, then you have another card to play. 
    That's a bass ackwards way of going about a trial.  If the judges that previously ruled in your favor are removed by your opponent... common sense says you're going to have an uphill battle on your hands.  You don't let your opponent gain an advantage and hope that things go your way.
    gatorguy
  • Reply 4 of 10
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,889member
    Rayz2016 said:
    If they knew this was happening then why didn’t they say something before the verdict was reached?

    If the verdict goes in your favor, then there’s no need to bring it up. If it doesn’t, then you have another card to play. 
    That's a bass ackwards way of going about a trial.  If the judges that previously ruled in your favor are removed by your opponent... common sense says you're going to have an uphill battle on your hands.  You don't let your opponent gain an advantage and hope that things go your way.
    Welcome to the US legal system. Nothing is the way a normal person thinks it should go. Not everything is allowed to be brought up in court either. Try sitting through a trial as a juror and you'll know how crazy/stupid the legal system can be.
    davenjony0
  • Reply 5 of 10
    Agreed w you on that.... “over ruled”
    voiP had been around before imessage, Skype was way ahead than Apples. I have voip tel services at home before iMessages.
    Come on now....
  • Reply 6 of 10
    Kuyangkoh said:
    Agreed w you on that.... “over ruled”
    voiP had been around before imessage, Skype was way ahead than Apples. I have voip tel services at home before iMessages.
    Come on now....
    You're suggesting that's it's impossible to do VoIP without violating the patents of VoIP-PAL because they were around before Apple got in the game?
    daven
  • Reply 7 of 10
    davendaven Posts: 459member
    Rayz2016 said:
    If they knew this was happening then why didn’t they say something before the verdict was reached?

    If the verdict goes in your favor, then there’s no need to bring it up. If it doesn’t, then you have another card to play. 
    That's a bass ackwards way of going about a trial.  If the judges that previously ruled in your favor are removed by your opponent... common sense says you're going to have an uphill battle on your hands.  You don't let your opponent gain an advantage and hope that things go your way.
    No. All that means is that you hope the replacement judge can be fair. If the ruling doesn't go your way, you try to get it overturned.
  • Reply 8 of 10
    Rayz2016 said:
    If they knew this was happening then why didn’t they say something before the verdict was reached?

    If the verdict goes in your favor, then there’s no need to bring it up. If it doesn’t, then you have another card to play. 
    That's a bass ackwards way of going about a trial.  If the judges that previously ruled in your favor are removed by your opponent... common sense says you're going to have an uphill battle on your hands.  You don't let your opponent gain an advantage and hope that things go your way.
    Of course you have to let the process go forward.

    First, you give your opponent the opportunity to inform you. If you make the accusation too soon, they can simply apologize for the oversight and say they were going to tell you. That they didn’t is proof of intent.

    Now, new jurists come in. They have the opportunity to inform you that they’ve been in ex parte communication with your opponent. That they must do so sui sponte is beyond dispute. That these new jurists didn’t do so is proof of gross violation of basic legal ethics. 

    Apple now has significant proof of a fraudulent legal proceedings. 

    I’m so surprised that the Trump cabal would do such things!  NOT. 
    jony0
  • Reply 9 of 10
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,443member
    Kuyangkoh said:
    Agreed w you on that.... “over ruled”
    voiP had been around before imessage, Skype was way ahead than Apples. I have voip tel services at home before iMessages.
    Come on now....
    Remember launchpad.com in late 90's or early 2000's?
  • Reply 10 of 10
    uwuuwu Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    Its clear that VoIP-Pal will win in court this is a sour sweet moment for me though. I own an I Phone but i also own a large amount of stock in VoIP-Pal. Tell me how you guys feel about my situation.
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