iPhone 'Personal Hotspot' tech violates networking patent, lawsuit claims

Posted:
in iPhone edited April 26
A Wyoming firm, WiNet Labs, is suing Apple for allegedly infringing on a networking patent with its "Personal Hotspot" feature found in iPhone and iPad.

iOS 12 Personal Hotspot


The U.S. patent in question is No. 7,593,374, "Multi-to-multi point ad-hoc wireless data transfer protocol," according to a complaint submitted with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Thursday.

The IP details a method of setting up and managing an ad-hoc network between multiple devices. Importantly, the patent incorporates steps for organizing multiple nodes within said network, including a controlling, or coordinating, node that WiNet claims is akin to a Wi-Fi-serving hotspot device.

WiNet says that its predecessor offered to sell the patent to Apple through an agent in 2014 but was ignored.

WiNet is seeking a jury trial, with the ultimate goal of "a fair and reasonable royalty," "treble damages," and pre- and post-judgment interest "at the maximum rate allowed by law."

The '374 patent dates back to May 2005, and was eventually granted to a Chinese company called M-LABS, Ltd. in August 2005. That firm is now listed as a shared assignee.

The patent became available for license or sale in December 2009. WiLab and/or M-LABS were repeatedly late with maintenance fees however, to the point that the patent lapsed toward the end of 2017. Sometime after it appears to have been revived.

Neither WiNet nor M-LABS have much if any presence online, suggesting they could be patent "trolls" with no commercial products. Given its track record, Apple will likely try to have the case dismissed or the patent ruled invalid.

WiNet Patent Suit by on Scribd

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    uraharaurahara Posts: 241member
    The feature was obviously introduced in the last iOS release /s
    n2itivguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 19
    I wasn't under the impression that China cared if its own companies violated US patents. Perhaps Congress needs to pass a law invalidating all Chinese patents as long as China ignores US patents.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 19
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,593member
    Looking forward to the lawsuits from WiNet against every other phone manufacture and every carrier, since they are pretty obviously violating the same claimed patents.

    [crickets]

    Huh. Funny how ONLY Apple gets sued over an industry-wide standard (that Apple didn't even implement -- carriers did -- Apple just allowed for hooks to their technology in iOS).
    n2itivguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 19
    RembertRembert Posts: 8unconfirmed, member
    Ehr, isn't patent US7382771B2 prior art here? This patent is owned by Intellectual Ventures II.
    n2itivguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 19
    KuyangkohKuyangkoh Posts: 333member
    Android have these tethering way before IOS, did they sue Google then? 
    n2itivguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 19
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,993member
    Another idea patent. If it’s not code, which is already protected via copyright, it shouldn’t be awarded a patent. Ideas aren’t protected, implementations are. Code is the implementation.

    Our system is whack.
    bonobobright_said_fredpscooter63n2itivguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 19
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,748member
    Kuyangkoh said:
    Android have these tethering way before IOS, did they sue Google then? 
    If they win against Apple they may. Or it might be that some other companies, for example Google, Samsung, "other" have agreed to pay some small royalty for the patent when approached and avoid a lawsuit. Or maybe Google is actively challenging the patent already, understanding it might be only a matter of time, which would not he all that unusual. Do you know? I don't. 

    Sometimes a "patent troll" goes after only small fry, and sometimes they go after a different big fish first as recently happened when Google was sued before eventually settling which encouraged the patent owner to move on to Apple next. Different companies get targeted first for various reasons. 
    edited April 25
  • Reply 8 of 19
    This has been around for the better part of a decade now and has been on Android phones as well, pretty sure before Apple added it  to iOS it in 2010 right? Also the carriers sell devices specifically for this feature, and occasionally cars have it, shoot even Mac( and Windows?) computers can be set up for ad hoc wifi... Does Winet Labs really think they can sue all those groups over a vague patent that no doubt there are enough other patents and devices to likely overlap that claim to have it thrown out easily?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 19
    revenantrevenant Posts: 501member
    how long does it take to notice someone has violated your patent? that is, how does a very popular phone maker 'violate' a patent years ago and the company holding the 'violated' patent only just now notices?
    pscooter63n2itivguycurtis hannahuraharawatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 19
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,100member
    Are they suing Apple for iOS or MacOS?
    Given this has been a feature since the first Airport cards or maybe second.
    Before 2004 at least why does it being an iPhone matter.
    llamawatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 19
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,980member
    gatorguy said:
    Kuyangkoh said:
    Android have these tethering way before IOS, did they sue Google then? 
    If they win against Apple they may. Or it might be that some other companies, for example Google, Samsung, "other" have agreed to pay some small royalty for the patent when approached and avoid a lawsuit. Or maybe Google is actively challenging the patent already, understanding it might be only a matter of time, which would not he all that unusual. Do you know? I don't. 

    Sometimes a "patent troll" goes after only small fry, and sometimes they go after a different big fish first as recently happened when Google was sued before eventually settling which encouraged the patent owner to move on to Apple next. Different companies get targeted first for various reasons. 
    Apple should know whether Google is doing this.
  • Reply 12 of 19
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,748member
    tzeshan said:
    gatorguy said:
    Kuyangkoh said:
    Android have these tethering way before IOS, did they sue Google then? 
    If they win against Apple they may. Or it might be that some other companies, for example Google, Samsung, "other" have agreed to pay some small royalty for the patent when approached and avoid a lawsuit. Or maybe Google is actively challenging the patent already, understanding it might be only a matter of time, which would not he all that unusual. Do you know? I don't. 

    Sometimes a "patent troll" goes after only small fry, and sometimes they go after a different big fish first as recently happened when Google was sued before eventually settling which encouraged the patent owner to move on to Apple next. Different companies get targeted first for various reasons. 
    Apple should know whether Google is doing this.
    I'm sure they do. And?
    revenant
  • Reply 13 of 19
    gatorguy said:
    tzeshan said:
    gatorguy said:
    Kuyangkoh said:
    Android have these tethering way before IOS, did they sue Google then? 
    If they win against Apple they may. Or it might be that some other companies, for example Google, Samsung, "other" have agreed to pay some small royalty for the patent when approached and avoid a lawsuit. Or maybe Google is actively challenging the patent already, understanding it might be only a matter of time, which would not he all that unusual. Do you know? I don't. 

    Sometimes a "patent troll" goes after only small fry, and sometimes they go after a different big fish first as recently happened when Google was sued before eventually settling which encouraged the patent owner to move on to Apple next. Different companies get targeted first for various reasons. 
    Apple should know whether Google is doing this.
    I'm sure they do. And?
    Apple and google could cooperate against the one suing them.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 19
    You'd feel like this is an ideal scenario for patent reform.

    It seems obvious that a company shouldn't be able to hold a patent then file suit for countless backdated damages. This means the other companies were unwittingly commercialising/innovating their basic technology. Rather they should have to prove why they were not able to file earlier and have their potential damages limited accordingly.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 19


    Our system is whack.
    I recently found US# 8,003,869 issued in 2011 that patents playing harmonics on a guitar: "A harmonic chime on a stringed instrument can be rendered by touching a part of a stringed instrument player's body, which is not part of a first member of the player's body that shortens a playable length of a string, to the string along its playable length at a harmonic-rendering position of the string, and plucking the string within its playable length to provide a harmonic chime on the string. Such a technique can provide for natural or artificial harmonic tones."
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 19
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 2,211member
    The patent system has been broken for a long time now. Still it continues to be this way, and still these lawsuits come, because the status quo makes money for some people.
  • Reply 17 of 19
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,748member
    gatorguy said:
    tzeshan said:
    gatorguy said:
    Kuyangkoh said:
    Android have these tethering way before IOS, did they sue Google then? 
    If they win against Apple they may. Or it might be that some other companies, for example Google, Samsung, "other" have agreed to pay some small royalty for the patent when approached and avoid a lawsuit. Or maybe Google is actively challenging the patent already, understanding it might be only a matter of time, which would not he all that unusual. Do you know? I don't. 

    Sometimes a "patent troll" goes after only small fry, and sometimes they go after a different big fish first as recently happened when Google was sued before eventually settling which encouraged the patent owner to move on to Apple next. Different companies get targeted first for various reasons. 
    Apple should know whether Google is doing this.
    I'm sure they do. And?
    Apple and google could cooperate against the one suing them.
    Personally I think they do. They work together and in cooperation a lot, and on a number of technologies and efforts. 
  • Reply 18 of 19
    Color me suspicious, when the suer in a patent trial requests a jury...

    I get why we went down a “jury” based system, but I’m not a fan in general.  It’s an extremely expensive and inefficient system, where misjustice is frequent.  It doesn’t work for this century...

    I favor a panel... but a “specialist jury” would be interesting for patents.

    Judge alone or panel of judges

    Judges would, as usual, use their expertise and knowledge of the law to decide on the evidence and reach a verdict. This could remedy one potential weakness of juries, being that jury members often do not have a good knowledge of the law. Yet, if this were the case, there would be no trial by one’s peers, and the community would be out of touch with their legal system.

    Specialist jury

    Juries would be tailored to each individual case. For instance, in a medical malpractice case, a jury could be made up of doctors. The jury would, therefore, have expertise on the evidence and facts at hand. Despite this clear disadvantage, the general community would again be distanced from the legal process.

    Professional jury

    Juries could be comprised of people who are employed as professional jurors. Because their job would be permanent, these jurors would understand their role, as well as rules of evidence and procedure. Yet, this would distance community members from the legal process.

  • Reply 19 of 19
    T.j.p.T.j.p. Posts: 24member
    Well, their patent appears to infringe on zigbee. Or vice versa, or the amateur mesh networks from the early 2000s, or the 1990s military mesh networks. Or ... this patent seems obvious considering the prior art.
    watto_cobra
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