Lawsuit claims Face ID, other iPhone camera features infringe on patents

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple has been hit with a lawsuit alleging that many of its iPhone camera features infringe on a series of patents owned by an engineer.

Credit: AppleInsider
Credit: AppleInsider


The lawsuit, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on Thursday, claims that Apple is knowingly infringing on five patents related to mobile phone cameras.

Specifically, those patents detail technologies that can "assist a user to interact with their smartphone," which includes unlocking a devices, taking images or videos, and providing other capabilities.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Gesture Technology Partners, LLC, was founded by Dr. Timothy Pryor in 2013. Pryor is the sole inventor of the five asserted patents. The patents-in-suit are U.S. Patents No. 8,194,924, 7,933,431, 8,878,949, and 8,553,079.

According to the complaint, a range of different Apple features are infringing on the intellectual property. That list includes Face ID, Smart HDR, picture facial recognition, and optical image stabilization, among others.

Interestingly, the lawsuit also states that Apple and Dr. Pryor had a previous working relationship.

"Apple has purchased patents and technologies from Dr. Pryor in the past including his 'multi-touch' patent portfolio in 2010," the patent reads. "Dr. Pryor later assisted Apple in asserting the multi-touch portfolio against HTC.

The complaint claims that Dr. Pryor approached Apple about licensing rights to the camera-based patents. It goes on to state that Apple sent correspondence back to Dr. Pryor, but failed to take any steps to avoid infringement. Because of that, the lawsuit claims that Apple is directly and knowingly infringing on the patents -- and adds that the plaintiff has been damaged as a result.

The patents themselves cover various patent technologies, including "Camera Based Interaction and Instruction" and "Camera Based Sensing in Handheld, Mobile, Gaming, or Other Devices."

The lawsuit demands a jury trial, and asks for judgement that Apple is infringing the IP. Additionally, it asks for all damages to and costs incurred because of the alleged infringement; interest on the damages; and attorneys fees and other legal costs.

Gesture Technology Versus Apple by Mike Wuerthele on Scribd

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    Presumably, if Apple bought them then both seller and buyer were aware of the deal.  This smacks of being a bit of a case of locking the door after the horse has bolted. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 17
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,467member
    Presumably, if Apple bought them then both seller and buyer were aware of the deal.  This smacks of being a bit of a case of locking the door after the horse has bolted. 
    Not sure where you got the idea the patents in question have been bought/sold.   The ones Apple bought that this same guy sold are a different, earlier set related to multi-touch, per the story.  
    byronl
  • Reply 3 of 17
    XedXed Posts: 1,026member

    U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas


    That tells me everything I need to know.
    viclauyycDAalsethlkruppJFC_PApujones1watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 17
    There we go again....
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 17
    It drives me crazy that years after a device is introduced someone files a patent infringement suit. I there should be a time limit to file a suit. When was the iPhone X introduced?  You mean to tell me Dr. Pryor didn’t know it was infringed or it took all this time, even with negotiations, to file the suit?  Are companies supposed to look over their shoulder for twenty years?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 17
    jdwjdw Posts: 993member
    Takes "Pryor art" to a whole new level!
    fotoformatmacguipujones1StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 17
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,665member
    Xed said:

    U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas


    That tells me everything I need to know.
    It’s been the Eastern District that has been the patent troll venue.  I’ve seen a lot of the Western district lately though.  I have a contact in this field and I’m going to ask him about that. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 17
    XedXed Posts: 1,026member
    sdw2001 said:
    Xed said:

    U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas


    That tells me everything I need to know.
    It’s been the Eastern District that has been the patent troll venue.  I’ve seen a lot of the Western district lately though.  I have a contact in this field and I’m going to ask him about that. 
    It switched a few years back.

    "However, as Patent Progress notes, there's a new judge vying to be at the top of the patent troll's Christmas list, and he's in West Texas. Judge Alan Albright, a former patent litigator, was appointed to the bench in 2018 -- and he literally went on a tour to convince companies to bring patent cases in his court"

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20200927/01044945391/former-patent-litigator-becomes-federal-judge-begins-advertising-patent-trolls-to-come-to-his-court-they-have-droves.shtml
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 17
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,665member
    Xed said:
    sdw2001 said:
    Xed said:

    U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas


    That tells me everything I need to know.
    It’s been the Eastern District that has been the patent troll venue.  I’ve seen a lot of the Western district lately though.  I have a contact in this field and I’m going to ask him about that. 
    It switched a few years back.

    "However, as Patent Progress notes, there's a new judge vying to be at the top of the patent troll's Christmas list, and he's in West Texas. Judge Alan Albright, a former patent litigator, was appointed to the bench in 2018 -- and he literally went on a tour to convince companies to bring patent cases in his court"

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20200927/01044945391/former-patent-litigator-becomes-federal-judge-begins-advertising-patent-trolls-to-come-to-his-court-they-have-droves.shtml
    Yeah I was about to post an update from my contact. He is in the field and once was in the Eastern District. Apparently SCOTUS ruled that there needs to be a business presence in the District to file.  The Western District includes the high tech hub of Austin.  And the judge in question wants to bring cases to the court, as you noted.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 17
    davendaven Posts: 626member
    So the patent office approved this -->  "assist a user to interact with their smartphone," as a novel idea for a camera function in a smartphone that someone in the field would not typically think of? 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 17
    Xed said:
    sdw2001 said:
    Xed said:

    U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas


    That tells me everything I need to know.
    It’s been the Eastern District that has been the patent troll venue.  I’ve seen a lot of the Western district lately though.  I have a contact in this field and I’m going to ask him about that. 
    It switched a few years back.

    "However, as Patent Progress notes, there's a new judge vying to be at the top of the patent troll's Christmas list, and he's in West Texas. Judge Alan Albright, a former patent litigator, was appointed to the bench in 2018 -- and he literally went on a tour to convince companies to bring patent cases in his court"

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20200927/01044945391/former-patent-litigator-becomes-federal-judge-begins-advertising-patent-trolls-to-come-to-his-court-they-have-droves.shtml
    Sounds like my man wants to give the District of Delaware a run for it's money.
    patent cases
    https://www.whitecase.com/publications/silicon-valleys-home-court-patent-trends-northern-district-california#:~:text=The District of Delaware received,cases this year so far.
  • Reply 12 of 17
    j2fusion said:
    It drives me crazy that years after a device is introduced someone files a patent infringement suit. I there should be a time limit to file a suit. When was the iPhone X introduced?  You mean to tell me Dr. Pryor didn’t know it was infringed or it took all this time, even with negotiations, to file the suit?  Are companies supposed to look over their shoulder for twenty years?
    Maybe there was a significant amount of time spent trying to work on a solution that didn’t involve the courts? Maybe it takes a significant amount of time to build the case especially when you’re going after a company like Apple? Why assume he woke up one Monday morning and just decided to file a lawsuit out of the blue? He did have a working relationship with Apple so if we can assume anything it’s that he spent a fair amount of time trying to come to an agreement outside of the courts.
  • Reply 13 of 17
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,452member
    Apple usually winds up paying out for most of these infringement lawsuits. To me that would imply that Apple invented nothing save for physical design. Everything else they either bought or stole from others. We never hear of Apple suing people like Dr. Pryor for infringing on Apple’s patents. Apple sued Samsung and lost. What original work has Apple accomplished other than design? The M1 SOC will certainly be copied by other OEMs. Is the M1 SOC just a conglomeration of existing technologies that Apple managed to package into a system? Will Apple sue anyone who copies it? I doubt it.

    So are the trolls and haters correct after all? Is Apple a hollow entity that feeds on the work of others to produce its overpriced products? 
    edited February 6
  • Reply 14 of 17
    lkrupp said:
    Apple usually winds up paying out for most of these infringement lawsuits. To me that would imply that Apple invented nothing save for physical design. Everything else they either bought or stole from others. We never hear of Apple suing people like Dr. Pryor for infringing on Apple’s patents. Apple sued Samsung and lost. What original work has Apple accomplished other than design? The M1 SOC will certainly be copied by other OEMs. Is the M1 SOC just a conglomeration of existing technologies that Apple managed to package into a system? Will Apple sue anyone who copies it? I doubt it.

    So are the trolls and haters correct after all? Is Apple a hollow entity that feeds on the work of others to produce its overpriced products? 
    there’s a little more to writing software than picking out a patent that says “You can interact with your phone using its camera!!!” Between “invention”, there’s “implementation”.
    pujones1watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 17
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,042member
    Xed said:

    U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas


    That tells me everything I need to know.
    That's what I thought in just reading the headline, though I thought it was the Eastern District, and a mistake had been made.

    So apparently, there's a new sheriff in town. (Been there awhile I see.)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 17
    I'm surprised that there aren't Universities offering courses in 'How to Sue Apple and Win'.
    It is a whole industry in its own right.
    Has anyone ever calculated how many lawsuits and for how much, Apple is on the hook for?

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 17
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,561member
    sbdude said:
    lkrupp said:
    Apple usually winds up paying out for most of these infringement lawsuits. To me that would imply that Apple invented nothing save for physical design. Everything else they either bought or stole from others. We never hear of Apple suing people like Dr. Pryor for infringing on Apple’s patents. Apple sued Samsung and lost. What original work has Apple accomplished other than design? The M1 SOC will certainly be copied by other OEMs. Is the M1 SOC just a conglomeration of existing technologies that Apple managed to package into a system? Will Apple sue anyone who copies it? I doubt it.

    So are the trolls and haters correct after all? Is Apple a hollow entity that feeds on the work of others to produce its overpriced products? 
    there’s a little more to writing software than picking out a patent that says “You can interact with your phone using its camera!!!” Between “invention”, there’s “implementation”.
    Thats the problem with so many tech patents -- they are broad "ideas" rather than narrow "implementation" details. A flying car is an idea and can't be patented, but the details on how your anti-grav engine works can. So many tech/OS patents are just ideas, not implementations. And since software is implemented in code, and is uniquely written, I doubt they've ever stolen anything, which would require flat-out copy & paste theft.
    watto_cobra
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