New lawsuit claims Apple infringed on lead-free solder alloy patent in iPhones

Posted:
in iPhone edited July 18
In the latest patent infringement suit against Apple, Singapore Asahi Chemical & Solder Industries PTE Ltd. has brought suit in Ohio, alleging that the company infringed on its solder patent in the manufacturing of several different iPhones.

iPhone X


The latest in a seemingly endless series of patent infringement lawsuit against Apple has been filed in U.S. District Court in Ohio. In it, a Singapore-based concern called Singapore Asahi Chemical & Solder Industries Pte Ltd. alleges that Apple has infringed on its patent for a lead-free solder, in the manufacturing of several products, including the last five iPhones.

The patent, issued in 2001, applies to "solder alloys with improved physical and chemical properties that comprise effective amounts of tin, copper, silver, and bismuth."

The suit alleges that Apple "is selling certain consumer electronics that incorporate the claimed technology." It specifically names the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus, as well as the iPhone X, as products that infringe upon the patent.

The claim does not list a dollar amount being sought. Asahi is seeking a jury trial, as well as an assessment and award of damages, treble damages, and payment of attorney's fees.

The suit was filed in Ohio because the company to which the inventors assigned the patent rights, H-Technologies Group, Inc., is based in that state. The plaintiffs also state that the court in Ohio has jurisdiction over the case, as Apple operates at least four retail stores in that state.

Many patent suits

Apple and Samsung's seemingly never-ending litigation over iPhone patents finally wrapped up last month, but that's far from the end of Apple ending up on the receiving end of such suits.

The Singapore suit is at least the third patent litigation filed against Apple just since the start of July. SMTM Technology, known as a patent troll, sued Apple over its "Do Not Disturb While Driving" feature earlier this month, while another company, Advanced Voice Recognition Systems, Inc. (AVRS), sued over Siri's Internet access the same week.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    macseekermacseeker Posts: 381member
    THAT DOES IT! I'm buying stock in a spirits company.
  • Reply 2 of 22
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,933member
    So if I buy some solder from a hardware store and use it in a product I end up selling, do I have to pay royalties to the solder company? This has gone beyond being crazy. Next thing someone will patent a process for using water and anyone who uses water in their products will be sued.
    macseekeranton zuykovolsracerhomie3pscooter63llamajbdragonEwalkaceblujony0
  • Reply 3 of 22
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,067member
    rob53 said:
    So if I buy some solder from a hardware store and use it in a product I end up selling, do I have to pay royalties to the solder company? This has gone beyond being crazy. Next thing someone will patent a process for using water and anyone who uses water in their products will be sued.
    I would think any patents would be handled at the manufacture of making the solder and not every little product it goes into.
    macseekericoco3
  • Reply 4 of 22
    backstabbackstab Posts: 115member
    steven n. said:
    rob53 said:
    So if I buy some solder from a hardware store and use it in a product I end up selling, do I have to pay royalties to the solder company? This has gone beyond being crazy. Next thing someone will patent a process for using water and anyone who uses water in their products will be sued.
    I would think any patents would be handled at the manufacture of making the solder and not every little product it goes into.
    I would think that's his point.
    rob53macseekerpscooter63llamajbdragonjony0
  • Reply 5 of 22
    tribalogicaltribalogical Posts: 1,171member
    There really is a point where plaintiffs need to demonstrate not just an "idea" but also a tangible method of accomplishing any given idea. It's one thing to patent the idea, say, of "a craft that can escape our gravity and orbit earth". It's entirely another thing to build one that can do just that. So often these days, it seems like our broken patent system is enabling the kind of suits based almost entirely on the former notion, that the simple idea of an "orbital craft" is patentable, even if there is no tangible method given for accomplishing it. That's not what patents were ever intended for. In this case, listing a few ingredients that might go into a "solder recipe" and then claiming ownership of that is ludicrous. If they had a very specific set of compounds in very specific amounts that gave the solder a very specific set of desirable properties, then yes, patent away... Apple does indeed set the specs for such components, and may have even asked specifically for a "lead-free" solder that had a similar list of ingredients. They don't manufacture that stuff, so why are they the object of the suit? Because Ohio, and our broken system. "Singapore Asahi" certainly couldn't bring this frivolous suit to bear in Singapore, I can almost guarantee it.
    macseeker
  • Reply 6 of 22
    evilutionevilution Posts: 1,323member
    WTAF! Foxcon etc aren’t making the solder, I suspect they buy it or Apple buy it and get it sent there to be used. Why should there be a licence fee for that?
    macseekerolsjbdragon
  • Reply 7 of 22
    macseekermacseeker Posts: 381member
    Well, I just gave likes to everybody before this post.  Next someone will sue Apple for the air the employees breathe.  The judges that gives credence to these 'sick' lawsuits needs to be taken behind the barn.
    jbdragon
  • Reply 8 of 22
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,659moderator
    What’s likely happening here is indirect infringement. The maker of the solder, if it does indeed infringe someone’s patent, is responsible.  That’s common sense.  But the company using the infringing product can be sued for indirect infringement, because they may have chosen that product for use even aware it infringes a patent.  So the patent owner has a choice, go after the manufacturer of the product (the solder manufacturer in this case) for direct infringement, or go where the money is; the huge global company using that product in the manufacture of expensive high-margin products, accusing it of indirect infringement.  Easy to see why they are suing Apple.

    It’s up to Apple to have in place an indemnification agreement with the solder manufacturer, and I would think as a matter of course Apple would have such an agreement in place with every supplier it purchases from, and perhaps even requires each supplier to be bonded.  So Apple will have recourse to sue the solder manufacturer in the event Apple bears costs in defense of itself in any suit brought against it.  Getting blood from that stone, of course, is exactly the reason the patent holder instead chooses to go the indirect infringement route against Apple.  Ain’t life grand?  
    edited July 18 olsmuthuk_vanalingamGabyjbdragonjony0
  • Reply 9 of 22
    steven n. said:
    rob53 said:
    So if I buy some solder from a hardware store and use it in a product I end up selling, do I have to pay royalties to the solder company? This has gone beyond being crazy. Next thing someone will patent a process for using water and anyone who uses water in their products will be sued.
    I would think any patents would be handled at the manufacture of making the solder and not every little product it goes into.
    Yes, but that way you will never get to Apple...the most delicious piece of the pie.... Did you buy all those worthless patents for nothing? So, you have to be inventive...and cunning... and without high moral standards, as well..
    edited July 18
  • Reply 10 of 22
    As they are going after triple damages then Ashai must be confident that this was wilful infringement by Apple.
    This could get interesting especially if Apple has no direct control of what brand of solder is used as long as it meets their specification.

    and in other news, shares in Popcorn makers rose today on the expectation of another multi-year litigation process involving Apple.
    jbdragon
  • Reply 11 of 22
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,334member
    What’s likely happening here is indirect infringement. The maker of the solder, if it does indeed infringe someone’s patent, is responsible.  That’s common sense.  But the company using the infringing product can be sued for indirect infringement, because they may have chosen that product for use even aware it infringes a patent.  So the patent owner has a choice, go after the manufacturer of the product (the solder manufacturer in this case) for direct infringement, or go where the money is; the huge global company using that product in the manufacture of expensive high-margin products, accusing it of indirect infringement.  Easy to see why they are suing Apple.

    It’s up to Apple to have in place an indemnification agreement with the solder manufacturer, and I would think as a matter of course Apple would have such an agreement in place with every supplier it purchases from, and perhaps even requires each supplier to be bonded.  So Apple will have recourse to sue the solder manufacturer in the event Apple bears costs in defense of itself in any suit brought against it.  Getting blood from that stone, of course, is exactly the reason the patent holder instead chooses to go the indirect infringement route against Apple.  Ain’t life grand?  
    "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers"
    hydrogenjbdragonradarthekat
  • Reply 12 of 22
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,624member
    rob53 said:
    So if I buy some solder from a hardware store and use it in a product I end up selling, do I have to pay royalties to the solder company? This has gone beyond being crazy. Next thing someone will patent a process for using water and anyone who uses water in their products will be sued.

    This isn't about generic materials it is about a custom alloy that Apple is supposedly using.    Now there is no proof presented yet that Apple is actually using this tech but if they are Apple needs to pay up.   Think about it they paid up for the Liquid Metal tech a few years ago and hardly used it.   It can take years to develop these sorts of alloys and the required validation.    In other words real effort goes into these developments.

    As for the snide remark about the endless laws suits against Apple [in the original article], it is about time that people realize that Apple is not the good guy here.   Frankly they have a policy that forces people to go to court.
    gatorguysingularitycommand_f
  • Reply 13 of 22
    wizard69 said:
    rob53 said:
    So if I buy some solder from a hardware store and use it in a product I end up selling, do I have to pay royalties to the solder company? This has gone beyond being crazy. Next thing someone will patent a process for using water and anyone who uses water in their products will be sued.

    This isn't about generic materials it is about a custom alloy that Apple is supposedly using.    Now there is no proof presented yet that Apple is actually using this tech but if they are Apple needs to pay up.   Think about it they paid up for the Liquid Metal tech a few years ago and hardly used it.   It can take years to develop these sorts of alloys and the required validation.    In other words real effort goes into these developments.

    As for the snide remark about the endless laws suits against Apple [in the original article], it is about time that people realize that Apple is not the good guy here.   Frankly they have a policy that forces people to go to court.
    and there are 'Those that can Do and those who can't File Suit' and for a lawyer filing suit against Apple is nice thing to have on their resume.

    Sadly because most Politicians in the USA are Lawyers they won't lift a finger that might threaten the incomes of their bretherin so there is almost no chance of this clearly broken Patent system being fixed. And with thousands of more lawyers putting their snouts into the trough each and every year, it will only get worse.


    jbdragon
  • Reply 14 of 22
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,206member
    wizard69 said:
    rob53 said:
    So if I buy some solder from a hardware store and use it in a product I end up selling, do I have to pay royalties to the solder company? This has gone beyond being crazy. Next thing someone will patent a process for using water and anyone who uses water in their products will be sued.

    This isn't about generic materials it is about a custom alloy that Apple is supposedly using.    Now there is no proof presented yet that Apple is actually using this tech but if they are Apple needs to pay up.   Think about it they paid up for the Liquid Metal tech a few years ago and hardly used it.   It can take years to develop these sorts of alloys and the required validation.    In other words real effort goes into these developments.

    As for the snide remark about the endless laws suits against Apple [in the original article], it is about time that people realize that Apple is not the good guy here.   Frankly they have a policy that forces people to go to court.
    "there is no proof presented yet that Apple is actually using this tech but if they are Apple needs to pay up" and "it is about time that people realize that Apple is not the good guy here"

    Well, I'm not sure who the good guys are, but you seem convinced. Case closed.
  • Reply 15 of 22
    fracfrac Posts: 480member
    The patent, issued in 2001, applies to "solder alloys with improved physical and chemical properties that comprise effective amounts of tin, copper, silver, and bismuth."

    Can an we say the word “broad” as in overly broad by including every possible combination covered by “effective”?

    i seriously think Apple will fight this. 
  • Reply 16 of 22
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    These guys are going to get Appled big time. You go up against the king, you best not miss.

    Apple will crush them.
  • Reply 17 of 22
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    What’s likely happening here is indirect infringement.
    Sounds like we need to indirectly kill the people responsible for coming up with this obvious nonsense.
  • Reply 18 of 22
    singularitysingularity Posts: 1,329member
    frac said:
    “The patent, issued in 2001, applies to "solder alloys with improved physical and chemical properties that comprise effective amounts of tin, copper, silver, and bismuth."

    Can an we say the word “broad” as in overly broad by including every possible combination covered by “effective”?

    i seriously think Apple will fight this. 
    You'd need to actually read the patent and the claims made in it to see if it's broad or not and not just the title. 
    gatorguycommand_f
  • Reply 19 of 22
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,443member
    The problem, in my opinion, is the economics involved. Which is the more cost effective path for a company like Apple when something like this happens? Fight it tooth and nail in court or pay out some money to end it quickly? Sure, everybody says patent law should be reformed but that’s probably never going to happen. Why? Because lawyers make crap-tons of money litigating this stuff and they’re not about to let their honey pots dry up.
  • Reply 20 of 22
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,454member
    lkrupp said:
    The problem, in my opinion, is the economics involved. Which is the more cost effective path for a company like Apple when something like this happens? Fight it tooth and nail in court or pay out some money to end it quickly? Sure, everybody says patent law should be reformed but that’s probably never going to happen. Why? Because lawyers make crap-tons of money litigating this stuff and they’re not about to let their honey pots dry up.
    If they pay, pay the normal license fee that would have been required for the original solder as produced by whoever Apple obtained it from.  NOT the selling cost of the iPhone (which is a scam).
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