Patent troll targets iOS and Mac app update system in lawsuit

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple is once again in the crosshairs of non-practicing entity Uniloc, which on Tuesday filed a complaint alleging the tech giant's app update mechanisms in iOS and macOS infringe on a patent developed by Philips.




Lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Uniloc's lawsuit leverages a single patent filed for in 1999 and granted in 2002 to Philips Electronics.

The IP in question, U.S. Patent No. 6,467,088 for a "Reconfiguration manager for controlling upgrades of electronic devices," covers methods of fulfilling software upgrade requests based on a specific set of configuration parameters on the host device.

For example, the system might determine whether a requested update requires a specific operating system version and either allow or deny the process based on that information. Compatibility checks appear to be at the heart of the suit.

According to complaint, Apple's iOS and macOS are in violation of Uniloc's patent because they rely on respective iOS App Store and Mac App Store mechanisms to update installed apps. Said updates can be considered "reconfigurations" of the device, in infringement of multiple '088 patent claims, the suit asserts.

Accused infringing devices are identified as those running iOS or macOS, including the iOS App Store or Mac App Store. In other words, all iPhones, iPads, iPod touch units and Mac models capable of downloading, installing and updating apps through the App Store.

Apple filed an petition to challenge the validity of the '088 patent with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in 2018, arguing that the IP's claims are obvious pursuant to prior actions. The PTAB declined to take up the review on grounds that Apple failed to show likelihood that it would prevail on presented merits. A subsequent request for a rehearing was denied in July.

Uniloc initially leveraged the IP against Apple in 2018, though that case was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice.

Uniloc in its complaint seeks a jury trial to determine undisclosed damages and court fees.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17

    Doesn't every software update system in the world on every platform and device only detect and install updates that are compatible? Now they are all in violation of this patent? Such patents should not be issued.

    Four letters .... s - c - u - m.


    olsjbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 17
    This is so absurd. It is obvious. We have had this for decades. We always check for dependencies and we have configuration files for installs. How would we able to run apps correctly if not for them?
    olsjbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 17
    Pretty much they are suing the rest of technology industry. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 17
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,151member
    Philips method clearly failed given their products don't update so why isn't a assumed the patented method must be different from Apple method that works.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 17
    Now the WESTERN District of Texas. Hope the people there are smarter.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 17
    macseeker said:
    Now the WESTERN District of Texas. Hope the people there are smarter.
    Nope, just a different type of hick in West Texas
    FileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 17
    This is basically a patent on shopping lists.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 17
    This is ridiculous. What's next, battery icon?
    jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 17
    macseeker said:
    Now the WESTERN District of Texas. Hope the people there are smarter.
    Nope. There was an article a few weeks ago. The new head of the court in West Texas is a former patent troll attorney. He has stated that he wants his jurisdiction to become THE place for patent litigation in the US. 
    watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 10 of 17
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,491member
    I don't understand why companies don't revolt and insist that Congress overhaul patent law.   Seems to me this would be a bipartisan issue.   These type of absurd lawsuits cost companies a fortune and in the end, probably raises prices to consumers.   As we all know, patents were not supposed to be issued for ideas and certainly not generic, obvious ideas - they were only supposed to be issued for an implementation of those ideas.  

    I was involved in a lawsuit not too long ago because some companies were getting sued pretty much over choosing an index to search from a list (like subject, title, etc).  Totally obvious.  I was involved because I did it in a CD-ROM product in 1986, long before this other idiot company got a patent and I'm sure a ton of people did it before me.   And that same product also checked prior configuration when it ran updates.  Again, totally obvious.  

    Didn't Apple (and other products) check for such factors as whether you had a joystick plugged in back in the Apple ][ days?   
    jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 17
    They can't go to the Eastern District of Texas: Apple doesn't have any facilities in that district anymore, much to my disgust. I have to travel twice as far to an Apple Store now than I used to thanks to the damned patent trolls.
    FileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 17
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,189member
    DAalseth said:
    macseeker said:
    Now the WESTERN District of Texas. Hope the people there are smarter.
    Nope. There was an article a few weeks ago. The new head of the court in West Texas is a former patent troll attorney. He has stated that he wants his jurisdiction to become THE place for patent litigation in the US. 
    When you don't have a case, that's the place to file as they always seem to win.
    netroxwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 17
    For all those people saying this is obvious, the question is was this obvious back in June of 1999? What is obvious today may not have been obvious back then. 

    I am aware of at least one other patent similar to this that also has an early priority/filing date. And several companies that infringe this patent as well. It’s obvious now but not so much back then. 
  • Reply 14 of 17
    mld53a said:
    For all those people saying this is obvious, the question is was this obvious back in June of 1999? What is obvious today may not have been obvious back then. 

    I am aware of at least one other patent similar to this that also has an early priority/filing date. And several companies that infringe this patent as well. It’s obvious now but not so much back then. 
    Yes, it was obvious back then.

    Making and maintaining a list of applications that an institution had licenses for was a common practice even in the early 1990s, and each item on the list would include information about the requirements for the application (it's called a database). When the web started becoming popular, many educational institutions would put these databases online for their intranet, with download links to the relevant executable.


    HOWEVER

    Your description is a simplification of the patent that has been granted; if it wasn't then I'm pretty sure Apple would have been able to convince the PTAB to toss the patent on review. Since that hasn't happened (as mentioned in the article) there must be some non-obvious component.

    But I'm not bored enough to read the patent or the complaint for more details.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 17
    mld53a said:
    For all those people saying this is obvious, the question is was this obvious back in June of 1999? What is obvious today may not have been obvious back then. 

    I am aware of at least one other patent similar to this that also has an early priority/filing date. And several companies that infringe this patent as well. It’s obvious now but not so much back then. 
    1999, thats in the computer dark ages, nothing was obvious back then.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 17
    zoetmb said:
    I don't understand why companies don't revolt and insist that Congress overhaul patent law.   Seems to me this would be a bipartisan issue.   These type of absurd lawsuits cost companies a fortune and in the end, probably raises prices to consumers.   As we all know, patents were not supposed to be issued for ideas and certainly not generic, obvious ideas - they were only supposed to be issued for an implementation of those ideas.  

    I was involved in a lawsuit not too long ago because some companies were getting sued pretty much over choosing an index to search from a list (like subject, title, etc).  Totally obvious.  I was involved because I did it in a CD-ROM product in 1986, long before this other idiot company got a patent and I'm sure a ton of people did it before me.   And that same product also checked prior configuration when it ran updates.  Again, totally obvious.  

    Didn't Apple (and other products) check for such factors as whether you had a joystick plugged in back in the Apple ][ days?   
    Litigation is how these things are settled. The system works.
  • Reply 17 of 17
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,283member
    HeliBum said:
    They can't go to the Eastern District of Texas: Apple doesn't have any facilities in that district anymore, much to my disgust. I have to travel twice as far to an Apple Store now than I used to thanks to the damned patent trolls.
    Worse it very likely accomplished nothing for Apple either to close those stores. Not only do they lose some of the direct sales revenue by closing stores, but patent cases just shifted from one patentee-friendly courtroom in East Texas to another patentee-friendly one in West Texas. 
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