Apple targeted in new patent infringement lawsuit over video processing technology

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple has been hit by a new patent lawsuit from Dynamic Data Technologies, with the suit alleging Apple's products and services have infringed on 11 patents relating to video streaming, processing and optimization.




Filed on Monday at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division and found by AppleInsider, the suit from Dynamic Data accuses Apple of infringing on 11 specific patents the company controls. The patents listed by the company are varied in terms of what they cover, but they are all within the field of video manipulation.

The patents start with one covering the enhancement of images in a video stream that are "encoded based on previous frames using prediction and motion estimation," and the decoding of such streams. A second, covering "color key preservation during sample rate conversion" entails the processing of a keyed image, while the "unit for and method of estimating a current motion vector" explains how to estimate a current motion vector for a group of pixels in an image, which could be used to track the position of objects in a video.

The list also includes a "video overlay processor with reduced memory and bus performance requirements" from the year 2000 for adding an overlay to a screen, one for reducing processing time and power consumption when encoding and decoding video stream data, and another for "motion estimation."

The remainder is made up of a video compression technology, a "high quality video and graphics pipeline," more motion vector determination, a "runtime configurable virtual video pipeline," and a "system for and method of displaying information" from 2003.

The 68-page filing declares there to be 11 counts of infringement, one for each named patent, naming products such as the Apple TV, iPhones, iPads, and even specific versions of iOS throughout the document.

The suit ends with a request that the court issues a judgment in its favor, an award for damages for infringement, a judgement and order finding Apple's infringement was "willful, wanton, malicious, bad-faith, deliberate, consciously wrongful, flagrant, or characteristic of a pirate" in order to award enhanced damages, attorney's fees, and any other relief to which the company is entitled. A trial by jury is requested.

The suit has many indications that it is a case of "patent trolling" by a non-practicing entity. The suit reveals the company was based in Delaware, and a search revealed it was incorporated in April of this year.

Marshall, Texas is also a major venue for patent trolling, with thousands of suits filed in the district every year on the subject.

It is also revealed in the suit itself that the firm has a portfolio of over 1,000 patent assets that encompasses "core technologies in the field of image and video processing," with the suit's patents specifically sourced from Philips.

Said to be an "effort to facilitate the licensing if Philips' foundational technology," the firm wrote in the filing it is "pursuing remedies for infringement" in venues around the world. It has also filed enforcement actions against a number of major firms, including Google, AMD, Microsoft, and even against Apple in one suit in Germany.

This is not the first non-practicing entity lawsuit Apple has been involved in, as the iPhone maker has had to contend with a number of such firms over the years, including Uniloc, Soverain Software, Acacia Research, and VirnetX.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    I kept saying for almost two decades now: Change USPTO patent regulations to what is in Europe to eliminate trolls. If firm is not practicing or not innovating then it cannot claim anything. Also preexsting innovator (a small company that has evidence of using the idea before it was patented by someone else) should be in place protecting some innovators who do not hold patent. Also USPTO should enforec just like patent offices in Europe rather than register and then wait for lawsuits on conflicts and no value patents that snad in a way.
    magman1979baconstangolselijahgcornchipmuthuk_vanalingammuthuk_vanalingamdysamoria
  • Reply 2 of 11
    The vultures are hungry...
  • Reply 3 of 11
    The vultures are hungry...
    No, vultures eat things that are dead. These are more like mosquitoes or vampire bats that parasitize the living.
    magman1979cornchipdysamoria
  • Reply 4 of 11
    Software patent suck. If it’s not the same code, which is already protected by copyright, then the implementation is different and there should be no patent protection. Copyright is the proper place to protect code...using patents to protect ideas rather than implementations is the problem.
    olselijahgcornchip
  • Reply 5 of 11
    I thought SCOTUS in 2017 put the kibosh on civil lawsuits outside the defendant's state of incorporation. Is Apple incorporated in Texas as well as in California?
  • Reply 6 of 11
    DAalseth said:
    The vultures are hungry...
    No, vultures eat things that are dead. These are more like mosquitoes or vampire bats that parasitize the living.
    You're right, I stand corrected :)
    cornchip
  • Reply 7 of 11
    The puppy-dogs nipping at the heels... ... again.
    magman1979
  • Reply 8 of 11
    Such heady little demons. Must make more custard!
    magman1979
  • Reply 9 of 11
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,677moderator
    Software patent suck. If it’s not the same code, which is already protected by copyright, then the implementation is different and there should be no patent protection. Copyright is the proper place to protect code...using patents to protect ideas rather than implementations is the problem.

    I must admit, as a holder of two software methodology patents myself, I just don't get the argument as to why software patents should not be allowed. What a patent protects, at the most basic level, is the hard work and resources that go into creating a new implementable idea. Back in the Industrial Age, machines incorporated logic in mechanical workings. Today, that logic is called software and some of the most ingenious advances of the modern world are software advances. If IBM and others (Tibco comes to mind) couldn't protect their ideas around big data analysis, if Oracle couldn't protect ideas around super fast sorting or database mirroring, would they be motivated to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into advancing the state of the art? Not so much if anyone could simply come along and steal those technologies. 

    Patents are linear and proportional in their protection of ideas. Consider those who would argue that something like slide to unlock is silly to protect with a patent. That it's an idea that isn't worthy of patent protection. But that's a fallacious argument; if its not worth much, then surely those who would infringe such a patent could simply apply a different method to solve the same problem. If you think a patented idea has no value then you should have no difficulty coming up with an equal or better idea. 

    I think someone who sits at a desk and designs a novel software method to, say, vary the timing on an automobile engine, which can make an engine run more efficiently and produce more power without having to redesign the engine should be offered the same protection for her idea as the same person using a CAD program to design a new and novel engine architecture that yields the same efficiency and performance boosts, the only difference being the novel engine design actually gets turned into a physical device (an engine) and therefore satisfies the notion of a utility patent better in the mind of a person who is stuck in the Industrial Age.

    Let's look at three scenarios:

    Scenario #1: the invention is implemented completely in hardware.

    Scenario #2: the invention is not able to be implemented solely in hardware, but requires a software element to control the hardware.

    Scenario #3: the invention is implemented completely in software, modifying the timing and control of existing engine components and engine monitoring and control elements that might have been used to adjust the engine's valve timing to yield sport versus economy mode, but never to adjust timing continuously.

    Let's just imagine, for the sake of argument, that any of these three means of inventing the first variable valve timing system were all possibilities. Variable valve timing clearly has value; it allows an engine to be more responsive to driver input while operating at higher efficiency.  The patent system exists to reward valuable innovation and invention. What's the argument for not providing those rewards in the second and third scenarios, above?

    cornchipglfrostjony0
  • Reply 10 of 11
    Software patent suck. If it’s not the same code, which is already protected by copyright, then the implementation is different and there should be no patent protection. Copyright is the proper place to protect code...using patents to protect ideas rather than implementations is the problem.

    I must admit, as a holder of two software methodology patents myself, I just don't get the argument as to why software patents should not be allowed.
    I've thought for some time that software should get a copyright, not a patent. Right now people get a patent for a function like database sorting and encoding video. Later on they start suing anyone else that comes up with a program to sort databases or encode video for infringing on their patent. That stifles creativity. If software received a copyright, then current holders could only sue if they could show that the same code was used. If someone comes up with a creative new way to do something then the marketplace would determine which was better. I see this happen all the time with Apple. They develop a software package. Somebody sues them because the patent they own covers the behaviour not the actual code. It's like if Ford sued GM for making V8 engines because they happened to patent the V8 first, (assuming for the sake of argument they did.)
    dysamoria
  • Reply 11 of 11
    Humm-prior art actually that the company may have challenges with in several key areas going back to 1999 and demonstration I conducted as well as exchange between Apple and them Sun Microsystems et al. The entire case seems flawed in key areas.
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