Apple slapped with patent lawsuit over iPhone security features

in General Discussion edited August 2021
A non-practicing entity on Wednesday filed a legal broadside against Apple, claiming certain iPhone security features like user passcodes and other unlock methods infringe on owned patents.


Lodged in the patent holder-friendly U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, the suit from Altpass LLC claims Apple's iPhone infringes on a pair of patents that detail methods of creating digital signatures that can later be used for user authentication. This can include passcode and password creation, as well as Face ID technology, the complaint alleges.

Altpass is leveraging U.S. Patent Nos. 7,725,725 and 8,429,415, intellectual property filed for in 2006 and 2010, respectively. Gary Odom is credited with inventing both patents, with the properties later passed from one patent holdings firm to another to end up at Altpass in early 2020.

The IP covers a fairly broad method of creating a "signature" (passcode, alphanumeric code, Face ID) and storing it for later retrieval using that signature to unlock a device.

More specifically, claims in both patents detail generating a signature by recording a signal from a keyboard, camera or other input mechanism, noting measurable variations in input as dictated by the user and storing at least a part of that data. This reference signature is later matched with user input for authentication purposes.

As proof of the alleged infringement, Altpass directs the court to a section of Apple's iPhone user guide for iOS 14 that covers setting or changing a passcode

The plaintiff seeks a finding of infringement and monetary damages in its lawsuit.

Not much is known about Altpass and the company fails to provide sufficient background in its filing, saying only that it operates out of an office in Austin, Texas. Over the past few months, the firm used the same patent stash to file suit against Google and Panasonic. Identical complaints were lodged against OnePlus, Kyocera, and T-Mobile in April 2020, shortly after Altpass acquired the IP.

Read on AppleInsider


  • Reply 1 of 14
    j2fusionj2fusion Posts: 153member
    Seems like a overly broad patent to me. 
    edited August 2021 llamawatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 14
    davendaven Posts: 698member
    You mean passwords didn’t exist before this?
  • Reply 3 of 14
    Again this is the problem: when everything is a lawsuit then nothing is about what's good for consumers. It's about a handful of people looking for a payday. So when a real issue arises, it is looked upon just another money grab. 

    This is isn't just an Apple thing. 
  • Reply 4 of 14
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,971member
    Patent trolls and influencers are the butt crumbs of society. 
  • Reply 5 of 14
    Pretty sure there's prior art to destroy these patents. In the 1990s there was research around monitoring a user's typing habits to try and identify if someone else was logging in to the account; that sounds like creating a signature to me.
  • Reply 6 of 14
    Patent trolls and influencers are the butt crumbs of society. 
    "butt crumbs"? LOL, funny.
    Unfortunately many consumers don't make the connection to butt crumbs trying to make a fast buck and the added cost we pay for products AND when a real consumer product problem is met with skepticism/a bunker mentality by companies.  
  • Reply 7 of 14
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 1,036member
    The US Patent Office apparently grants a patent for nearly everything, even if it is stupidly general, simple, or obvious. Pardon me, I'm going to file a patent for a circular thing that vehicles can propel themselves on...
  • Reply 8 of 14
    docbburkdocbburk Posts: 109member
    Yet another sign that there are way too many law schools and obviously not nearly enough ethics courses required
  • Reply 9 of 14
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,257member
    "Gary Odom is credited with inventing both patents, " Didn't realize someone could invent a patent.

    Here's the abstract for the first one. 

    "Computer login may comprise any user-determined submission. A user may select among different devices for input, select the signal content, and as well select the types of signals used for a login signature. Account identification may be inferred by signature rather than explicitly stated. A plurality of discontiguous data blocks in a plurality of files may be employed for validation. The paths to data used in validation may be multifarious, regardless of the prospects for successful authorization."

    This is something that has been going on since at least the 1980's so why would some idiot in the patent office even grant this one? Time to go through every patent and get rid of the obvious ones that should never have been granted a patent.
  • Reply 10 of 14
    Obviously the patent offices are run by 5th graders like.
  • Reply 11 of 14
    mike1mike1 Posts: 3,301member
    Really?!   That idea is allowed to have a patent?!  Apple should leave Texas altogether.  There is nothing of value there.  ;) 

    What does this have to do with the state of Texas?!
  • Reply 12 of 14
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    mike1 said:
    Really?!   That idea is allowed to have a patent?!  Apple should leave Texas altogether.  There is nothing of value there.  ;) 

    What does this have to do with the state of Texas?!
    "Lodged in the patent holder-friendly U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas...” 

    It has everything to do with Texas. The Western District is notorious for juries who always find for the plaintiff no matter what. That’s why these lawsuits are filed there. Apple will likely be found guilty and have to appeal to it overturned. In the meantime the lawyers’s fees keep accumulating.
  • Reply 13 of 14
    Apple and other product makers should get together and create an organization charged with preemptively attacking patents held by NPE organizations.

    Whenever a patent lawsuit is filed, this organization should inspect the patent portfolios of companies pressing suit and seek to have the most egregious patents owned by these NPEs invalidated, thus making frivolous lawsuits costly to NPEs who do nothing but buy patents to sue practicing entities.

    The costs to support this organization would be readily paid for by ultimately reducing the number of frivolous lawsuits and reducing legal costs, and would give NPEs pause because their business model might suddenly become unprofitable.
  • Reply 14 of 14
    An organization proactively reviewing patents for invalidation seems like a good idea.

    Interestingly one of the reasons large companies establish a portfolio of patents is for protection against other large companies filing patents.

    40 years ago I learned the main reason for IBM’s large patent portfolio was to defend against other major companies attacking them with patent infringement cases.  The defense would then be leave us alone if you sue us for this patent infringement then we will sue you for 10 of our patents you have been infringing.

    Obviously this is a very useful defense against large competitors.  But doesn’t protect against litigious companies that manufacture nothing, or against original patent owners that may (or may not) have a legitimate claim.
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