Apple sued over AirDrop technology

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 4
Patent troll Uniloc returned to form on Wednesday after a months-long hiatus from lobbing allegations against Apple, this time challenging the company's AirDrop file sharing technology with a 2006 Philips patent.

AirDrop


Filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Uniloc's latest attempt to extract damages from the tech giant leverages a single patent first filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2000.

Invented by Jonathan Griffiths, U.S. Patent No. 7,136,999 for a "Method and system for electronic device authentication" details techniques of creating a secure environment for transferring data between two devices. In particular, the IP covers methods of providing authentication over a variety of wireless protocols including Bluetooth.

According to the patent's first claim, an initial authentication procedure is performed over a short-range wireless link. Once authenticated, the two devices are then able to connect when out of range of the first wireless link protocol. As noted in following claims, the devices can exchange initial authentication information -- a key or password -- via an alternative communications link.

The USPTO issued a grant for the '999 patent in 2006.

The IP has changed hands multiple times since its filing in 2000, first from Griffiths to Philips Electronics that same year. It was assigned to patent aggregator IPG Electronics 503 Limited in 2009, then on to Pendragon Wireless in 2012 before landing in Uniloc's coffers in February 2018. Uniloc Luxembourg subsequently assigned the patent to Uniloc 2017 LLC in July.

Uniloc's U.S. licensing entity, with the recently formed Uniloc 2017, is leveraging the patent-in-suit against Apple and AirDrop.

Introduced alongside OS X 10.7 Lion in 2011, AirDrop is a first-party ad hoc protocol designed to simplify the process of transferring large files from one device to another.

Initially developed to connect two Macs over Wi-Fi, the service first appeared in the OS X Finder. Running AirDrop allowed two Macs to quickly create an ad hoc connection without need for passwords or complex network configuration. Simple drag-and-drop functionality made the system a more attractive alternative to direct link, cloud storage and similar file transfer solutions in use at the time.

Apple later extended -- and modified -- AirDrop to accommodate its mobile operating system with iOS 7 in 2013. Unlike legacy AirDrop technology, the revamped version employs a dual-link structure that relied on Bluetooth for discovery and token setup, and Wi-Fi for file transfers. Again, users are presented with an easy-to-use interface in Share Sheets that features automatic device discovery and tap-to-send capabilities.

It is this second iteration of AirDrop that Uniloc is targeting in its latest lawsuit.

The non-practicing entity is alleging infringement of claims 13 and 17 of the '999 patent, which relate to establishing a secure link between two devices through exchange of authentication information over two separate communications links. Named in the suit are all devices compatible with Apple's current implementation of AirDrop, including all iPhones from iPhone 5 to iPhone XS Max, fourth- and fifth-generation iPads, all iPad mini generations, all iPad Air models, iPad Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac mini, Mac Pro, the fifth-generation iPod and fourth- through sixth-generation iPod touch models.

Uniloc in its suit seeks unspecified damages, reimbursement of legal fees and other relief deemed fit by the court.

The AirDrop case is the latest in a string of Uniloc lawsuits targeting Apple technologies. In the middle of 2017, the non-practicing entity went on a spree, filing suit against the iPhone maker almost once a month.

Last April, Uniloc sued over Maps, Apple ID and remote software updates, while a second batch of filings homed in on AirPlay, autodialing, battery technology in May. Device wake-up, step tracking and Apple Watch were added to the growing pile last June, AirPlay and Home in July, the Apple TV Remote app in August and Apple Watch's GPS in October.

Uniloc is one of the most active patent trolls in the U.S., leveraging reassigned patents or vaguely worded original IP against a number of tech firms including Activision Blizzard, Aspyr, Electronic Arts, McAfee, Microsoft, Rackspace, Sega, Sony, Symantec and more.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    magman1979magman1979 Posts: 1,041member
    If ever there was a group of corporate vermin that deserve to be in hell, it’s everyone at Uniloc...
    cornchipkozchrisLordeHawkjdwolsjbdragonMuntzjony0dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 20
    jdwjdw Posts: 632member
    We should actually be more upset with the US Government, and hence the American people, for daring to allow "non-practicing entities" like this to file patent related lawsuits in the first place.  Vermin are everywhere.  That will always be true.  But when we make laws that empower vermin, the good intent behind those laws is lost.
    Gabyolsmuthuk_vanalingamMuntzjony0pscooter63dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 20
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,754member
    Can't believe this POS "patent" was even given in the first place, Good fracking god, the patent office needs to be burned to the ground.
    mcdavellamaMuntzdysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 20
    Another day, another lawsuit.
    jbdragonMuntzwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 20
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,201member
    Said it before and I’ll say it again:

    The only way to stop this nonsense is to force the losing party to pay the legal costs for the other side; and if they can’t pay then it comes out of the legal firm’s pocket. 
    llamachabigMuntzjony0pscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 20
    Rayz2016 said:
    Said it before and I’ll say it again:

    The only way to stop this nonsense is to force the losing party to pay the legal costs for the other side; and if they can’t pay then it comes out of the legal firm’s pocket. 
    With lawyers in charge of making the laws, it's unlikely they will work to punish themselves like that.
    jbdragonMuntzwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 20
    It’s time to end software and business practice patents.  They do more harm then good.
    tokyojimugatorguydysamoria
  • Reply 8 of 20
    chabigchabig Posts: 621member
    jdw said:
    We should actually be more upset with the US Government, and hence the American people, for daring to allow "non-practicing entities" like this to file patent related lawsuits in the first place.  Vermin are everywhere.  That will always be true.  But when we make laws that empower vermin, the good intent behind those laws is lost.
    But intellectual property is still property, and property owners can do whatever they want with property. If your neighbor has a piece of land that he isn't putting to use, you can't just go and start using it.
  • Reply 9 of 20
    jdgazjdgaz Posts: 297member
    Why don't Apple, Activision Blizzard, Aspyr, Electronic Arts, McAfee, Microsoft, Rackspace, Sega, Sony, Symantec, and the others just acquire the company and take control of the patents.  
    flyingdpwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 20
    foggyhill said:
    Can't believe this POS "patent" was even given in the first place, Good fracking god, the patent office needs to be burned to the ground.
    My brother is a Patent Attorney and works for the USPTO as an examiner, and I have discussed the whole SW patent thing with him in the past and it was not an encouraging thing. Without getting into the details it sounds like a lot of stuff gets approved with minimal checking for prior art and lots of other things that should be done. Apparently this has been this way for a long time- remember, Microsoft patented the left mouse click.
    edited October 4 stompy
  • Reply 11 of 20
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 611member
    Honestly, I’ve found Airdrop to be mostly useless, anyway. It is so flaky and sporadic that I doesn’t work half of the time when I try to use it, so I just never use it anymore. Maybe Apple should just cut their losses on this one.
  • Reply 12 of 20
    nzmacnzmac Posts: 4member
    MplsP said:
    Honestly, I’ve found Airdrop to be mostly useless, anyway. It is so flaky and sporadic that I doesn’t work half of the time when I try to use it, so I just never use it anymore. Maybe Apple should just cut their losses on this one.
    Really? Has never failed for me and I use it most days
    pscooter63thtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 20
    nzmacnzmac Posts: 4member
    Rayz2016 said:
    Said it before and I’ll say it again:

    The only way to stop this nonsense is to force the losing party to pay the legal costs for the other side; and if they can’t pay then it comes out of the legal firm’s pocket. 
    Turkeys don’t vote for thanksgiving
    thtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 20
    MplsP said:
    Honestly, I’ve found Airdrop to be mostly useless, anyway. It is so flaky and sporadic that I doesn’t work half of the time when I try to use it, so I just never use it anymore. Maybe Apple should just cut their losses on this one.
    Give me a break.  I've never seen it fail, and I also use it daily.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 20
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,880member
    MplsP said:
    Honestly, I’ve found Airdrop to be mostly useless, anyway. It is so flaky and sporadic that I doesn’t work half of the time when I try to use it, so I just never use it anymore. Maybe Apple should just cut their losses on this one.
    Give me a break.  I've never seen it fail, and I also use it daily.
    The only time I've seen it fail is when I'm on a corporate Wi-Fi network where the network admin just blindly blocks everything except port 80/web traffic because they're too lazy to do a proper job of network filtering.
    edited October 4 watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 20
    anomeanome Posts: 1,118member

    How long is the expiry on patents these days? I keep losing track.

    Not sure there was enough novelty in the original idea to make it patentable, anyway. At least not as it's being so broadly applied. Handshaking goes back a long way. At least as far as the modern fax machine, and I think somewhat further.

    The key element seems to be handshaking on one medium (Bluetooth) and communicating on another (WiFi). There'd have to be something prior to 2006 or even 2000 demonstrating a similar principle.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 20
    Craig Etchegoyen (head unicock-licker at Unicock) and his board of douchebags who are incapable of creating or innovating on their own, so they unicock-suck the life out of other companies WILL burn in hell for all eternity.  There is no question.  Hopefully they fully enjoy their life in hiding here on earth.  Can anyone who has to hide online really have any self-love or dignity?  

    Satan is waiting for them at the gates of hell with his fiery unicock ready and willing to mount Craig Etchegoyen like the hound of hell he is and ride him with his fiery satanic wanker singing Craig Etchegoyen's mangina from the inside out.

    Burn unicockers.  Burn burn burn.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 20
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,577member
    Are they just bad at geography or is West Texas as bad as East Texas now?  lol
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 20
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,817member
    MplsP said:
    Honestly, I’ve found Airdrop to be mostly useless, anyway. It is so flaky and sporadic that I doesn’t work half of the time when I try to use it, so I just never use it anymore. Maybe Apple should just cut their losses on this one.
    Give me a break.  I've never seen it fail, and I also use it daily.
    I see it fail constantly, but I want it improved, not abandoned!
  • Reply 20 of 20
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,817member
    davgreg said:
    foggyhill said:
    Can't believe this POS "patent" was even given in the first place, Good fracking god, the patent office needs to be burned to the ground.
    My brother is a Patent Attorney and works for the USPTO as an examiner, and I have discussed the whole SW patent thing with him in the past and it was not an encouraging thing. Without getting into the details it sounds like a lot of stuff gets approved with minimal checking for prior art and lots of other things that should be done. Apparently this has been this way for a long time- remember, Microsoft patented the left mouse click.
    Software patents were never meant to be. The USPTO refused to allow them, arguing (correctly) that they weren’t legitimate ideas to patent and that efforts at doing them even halfway well would be ridiculously time consuming and costly to the office, resulting in the massive deluge of garbage filings that pour through the system and get sold to patent trolls.

    They were lobbied into compliance by... guess who? The software industry. The end result is a huge self-inflicted injury by the computer industry. The industry ought to start lobbying to make software patents a thing of the past, but apparently the endless lawsuits aren’t enough of a financial loss yet.
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