Apple goes on legal offensive against USB charging tech patent troll

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 7
Apple is typically on the receiving end of lawsuits, but the company flipped the script this week and took preemptive legal action against a firm called Fundamental Innovation Systems International, hoping to deter any patent lawsuits related to USB charging.

iPad Pro and Lightning cable


The company has filed suit through the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, asking it to declare that it doesn't infringe on patents FISI acquired from BlackBerry. A formal complaint speculates that it be could be the next target for FISI, which has already used legal pressure to secure licenses from corporations like LG and Samsung.

"Defendants have claimed, through letters, claim charts, telephone calls and in-person meetings with Apple personnel in this District, that certain Apple products infringe the Patents-in-Suit and that Apple requires a license to the Patents-in-Suit," lawyers for Apple wrote. "However, Apple's products do not infringe the Patents-in-Suit."

A key contention in Apple's defense is that many of its devices and adapters use Lightning connectors, instead of adhering strictly to the USB 2.0 standards cited in FISI's patents. Lightning cables do tap USB for power and data, but have custom endpoints and authentication technology.

Apple is nominally requesting a jury trial, but if its lawsuit has its intended effect, FISI may be forced to settle before that point.

Apple is regularly targeted by outfits like FISI, which produce no actual product and depend on lawsuits and royalties to make money. Normally they're defeated or settle out of court, but Apple did take a major hit recently when the federal U.S. Court of Appeals denied an appeal of a 2016 jury verdict in favor of VirnetX, putting it on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Apple Versus FISI by on Scribd

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    That's the way to do it. If nothing else Apple can keep this out of East Texas.
    jbdragonolsrob53bshankwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 10
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,991member
    Apple though moved to USB-C on the iPad Pro's. So using Lighting on one end really doesn't hold true as a argument any longer. The rumors are Apple may move to USB-C on the new iPhones for 2019. Which I think they should do. Reason being, the iPads are already using it. Myself having 30-Pin on my iPad 3 and then Lighting on my iphone kind of sucked as I would have to have 2 cables to use to charge with and deal with everywhere. Since Upgrading my iPad to a 12.9" iPad Pro Second generation, having 1 Lighting cable that works for both has been much better. It's also one of the reasons I didn't get the newest iPad pro, just because it went USB-C. I didn't want to go back to using 2 different cables once again.
    sflocal
  • Reply 3 of 10
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 647member
    jbdragon said:
    Apple though moved to USB-C on the iPad Pro's. So using Lighting on one end really doesn't hold true as a argument any longer. The rumors are Apple may move to USB-C on the new iPhones for 2019. Which I think they should do. Reason being, the iPads are already using it. Myself having 30-Pin on my iPad 3 and then Lighting on my iphone kind of sucked as I would have to have 2 cables to use to charge with and deal with everywhere. Since Upgrading my iPad to a 12.9" iPad Pro Second generation, having 1 Lighting cable that works for both has been much better. It's also one of the reasons I didn't get the newest iPad pro, just because it went USB-C. I didn't want to go back to using 2 different cables once again.
    So why fragment it again for other folks? You said they should switch because of the new iPad Pro, but then said how much it sucked to have to use 2 different cables to charge and deal with?

    I use lightning with 10W or 12W chargers or wireless charge pads in my home exclusively.  My main laptop is supplied by work and they haven't upgraded to USB-C machines yet. My Macs at home are pre USB-C and running fine for what I use them for, so I am not planning on upgrading my home machines either.Maybe I am on the minority but I have no desire to make the investment to change all of my cables to a different standard at $19.00 a pop and $30.00 or more for the equivalent chargers from Apple.
  • Reply 4 of 10
    I'd be more willing to agree with Apple here if I didn't believe they would do these same thing as these "trolls". Apple has hundreds, if not thousands, of patents for things they probably will never manufacture but you can bet for damn sure if another company released something that potentially infringed on it the Apple lawyers will be at their door with the quickness...
    edited February 6
  • Reply 5 of 10
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,087member
    That's the way to do it. If nothing else Apple can keep this out of East Texas.
    Is the district of Northern California more friendly to tech companies vs patent trolls like E Texas?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 10
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,986member
    MplsP said:
    That's the way to do it. If nothing else Apple can keep this out of East Texas.
    Is the district of Northern California more friendly to tech companies vs patent trolls like E Texas?
    Apple is in the Northern District of CA and any jury would be more favorable to Apple as well as (probably) more technically qualified to understand what’s going on. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 10
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,807member
    Patient trolls are like cockroaches. Kill them before infect your place. Thought USB-C is a standards based port interface. Some day, it will be all wireless.
    edited February 6 watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 10
    BxBorn said:
    I'd be more willing to agree with Apple here if I didn't believe they would do these same thing as these "trolls". Apple has hundreds, if not thousands, of patents for things they probably will never manufacture but you can bet for damn sure if another company released something that potentially infringed on it the Apple lawyers will be at their door with the quickness...
    And yet, I personally can't recall a single instance when Apple has done that--with the exception of when Apple gets into a dispute with a huge player and they use their patent portfolios as weapons.  
    stompybshankwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 10
    MplsP said:
    That's the way to do it. If nothing else Apple can keep this out of East Texas.
    Is the district of Northern California more friendly to tech companies vs patent trolls like E Texas?
    As I understand it, the "problem" (depending on your perspective) is a small number of life-tenured federal judges who happen to have views that favor "patent trolls."  It's not something in the water; it's a known bias of that federal district court.
    sflocalbshankwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 10
    bshankbshank Posts: 152member
    rob53 said:
    MplsP said:
    That's the way to do it. If nothing else Apple can keep this out of East Texas.
    Is the district of Northern California more friendly to tech companies vs patent trolls like E Texas?
    Apple is in the Northern District of CA and any jury would be more favorable to Apple as well as (probably) more technically qualified to understand what’s going on. 
    Probably Judge Koh
    watto_cobra
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