Patent troll using 2018 patent to sue Apple over 2014 Shortcuts technology

Posted:
in General Discussion
Aftechmobile claims that with the design, implementation and use of the Shortcuts app, Apple infringes its patents regarding mobile application development software -- but it appears to be using a patent that was filed for and issued after Apple's first use of the technology.

Apple's Shortcuts app in iPadOS 13 (left) and iOS 13 (right)
Apple's Shortcuts app in iPadOS 13 (left) and iOS 13 (right)


Aftechmobile has filed a lawsuit against Apple in the US District Court Northern District of California regarding the Shortcuts app. The suit asserts that Apple infringes Aftechmobile's patents regarding mobile application development software and the use of what it calls "pre-coded software components."

Referring to its US Patent No 10,133,558, dated November 2018 and known as the '558 Patent, Aftechmobile says Apple is infringing "at least one of the 28 claims" in that patent, by making and selling the Shortcuts app.

The suit repeatedly compares the '558 patent with Apple's own descriptions of the Shortcuts app.

"Claim 5 [of the '558 Patent] includes, 'inserting one or more of said pre-coded software components into said launched mobile application creation interface; assembling said inserted one or more of said pre-coded software components..." says Aftechmobile's suit.

"Apple describes inserting one or more of said pre-coded software components into said launched mobile application creation interface," it continues, "as 'to add an action to your shortcut, touch and hold an action in the list, then drag it to the position you want in the shortcut editor.'"

What Apple calls Actions in its Shortcuts app, Aftechmobile refers to as "pre-coded software components." Then similar assertions compare what the patent refers to as the "mobile application creation interface" with Apple's description of how users can "create a new, custom shortcut using the Shortcuts app."

Aftechmobile is seeking a trial by jury and an unspecified sum for "a fair and reasonable royalty."

In Shortcuts, you drag actions from the list on the left, into the editor on the right. Aftechmobile calls these
In Shortcuts, you drag actions from the list on the left, into the editor on the right. Aftechmobile calls these "pre-coded software components."


Apple has not publicly responded to the suit. The Shortcuts app is now shipping with iOS 13 and the forthcoming iPadOS 13, but was previously a separate, free product in the App Store. Prior to that, Apple's Shortcuts app was a third-party one called Workflow, which was first released in 2014.

Aftechmobile is a company based in Virginia. Its LinkedIn entry describes it as developing "innovative solutions to help our clients with Enterprise Mobile Strategy, Salesforce.com consulting... development of mobile Apps and more." The entry says the company has between 2 and 10 employees.

Currently Aftechmobile's official website either returns a 502 Bad Gateway error or, periodically, redirects to one called Mobrise.net which at time of writing went from being a registered, but non-existent site into one returning an error saying it is temporarily unavailable.

According to Crunchbase, Mobrise's founder and CEO is Arshad Farooqi. Aftechmobile's suit includes a copy of the '558 Patent which lists Farooqi as the applicant and inventor.

On the same day that Aftechmobile filed this patent infringement suit against Apple, it also filed a similar suit against Salesforce.com. Both cases are with the Northern District of California, and in both Aftechmobile is being represented by the same legal firm.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,438member
    Yawnnnnn... not even the trolls who live under the bridge here in AI care anymore.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 37
    If this was filed in Texas, Apple just needs to pull all of its retail, labs and offices out of Texas.   Apple does not deserve the constant pressure of lawsuits because no one wants to take the time to actually build a product. 
    superklotonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 37
    lkrupp said:
    Yawnnnnn... not even the trolls who live under the bridge here in AI care anymore.
    I don’t know how these things usually end. However, as long as it is being accepted by a court, a case is a case and to my - albeit limited - knowledge some companies settle out of court even though the case is clear because in the end it’s still cheaper overall. 

    Obviously, you and I and everyone buying stuff off Apple has a small amount of money factored into the money we leave on the counter to cover these costs. 

    Scum. 
    netmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 37
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,438member
    lkrupp said:
    Yawnnnnn... not even the trolls who live under the bridge here in AI care anymore.
    I don’t know how these things usually end. However, as long as it is being accepted by a court, a case is a case and to my - albeit limited - knowledge some companies settle out of court even though the case is clear because in the end it’s still cheaper overall. 

    Obviously, you and I and everyone buying stuff off Apple has a small amount of money factored into the money we leave on the counter to cover these costs. 

    Scum. 
    Another point is that almost every tech company is constantly being sued by somebody over IP or patents. We only hear about Apple because Apple has this big target on its back, stapled there by the tech news media, ie. AppleInsider and other Apple oriented tech blogs. Like you say, a couple of years from now we won’t even hear about this particular lawsuit being settled out of court for an “undisclosed” amount with Apple not admitting to any of the allegations. Anybody can sue anybody for anything in this country and some lawyer will take the case. That’s why corporations have a battalion of lawyers on the payroll. Meanwhile it’s troll fodder good for clicks and views.
    edited September 21 superklotonnetmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 37
    Prior art... next
    DAalsethwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 37
    Eventually, one of these trolls will lose big time and end up millions of dollars in debt (and possibly jail time). Hopefully it would serve as a warning to other trolls. They'd better have a really, really good case before filing suit.

    superklotonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 37
    AppleInsider said:

    ...

    Referring to its US Patent No 10,133,558, dated November 2018 and known as the '558 Patent, Aftechmobile says Apple is infringing "at least one of the 28 claims" in that patent, by making and selling the Shortcuts app.

    ...
    The application for the '558 patent was filed in 2016. That date, rather than the 2018 grant date, is what would matter if it were a regular (i.e. not a continuation) application.

    However, the 2016 patent application was a continuation application claiming priority back to a 2012 application. So it's the 2012 date that matters for the '558 patent.
    CloudTalkinuraharajbdragonsuperklotonrandominternetpersonFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 8 of 37
    Knowing someone who had to fight to assert their well-earned patent rights, I don’t think it’s fair to call any person or company a “patent troll” until they’re proven otherwise. Until everything shakes out in court they are simply a party filing a lawsuit.
  • Reply 9 of 37
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,967administrator
    Knowing someone who had to fight to assert their well-earned patent rights, I don’t think it’s fair to call any person or company a “patent troll” until they’re proven otherwise. Until everything shakes out in court they are simply a party filing a lawsuit.
    If you aren't producing a product, you are by definition a patent troll.

    edited September 21 jbdragonsuperklotonnetmagemac_dogwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 37
    Knowing someone who had to fight to assert their well-earned patent rights, I don’t think it’s fair to call any person or company a “patent troll” until they’re proven otherwise. Until everything shakes out in court they are simply a party filing a lawsuit.
    If you aren't producing a product, you are by definition a patent troll.


    That’s false. They would be an NPE (Non-Practicing Entity). “Patent troll” is not a legal term. I thought we addressed this distinction previously.

    https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=2bc351e0-c393-4637-9c38-306ff7713557
    edited September 21 CloudTalkinrandominternetpersonmdriftmeyerIreneW
  • Reply 11 of 37
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,887member
    Eventually, one of these trolls will lose big time and end up millions of dollars in debt (and possibly jail time). Hopefully it would serve as a warning to other trolls. They'd better have a really, really good case before filing suit.

    It will settle down if the loser in patent trials has to pay costs.
    berndogjbdragonDAalsethwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 37
    Well at least these guys aren’t trying to hid behind a name - their name states their modus operandi..... taking existing tech and patenting it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 37
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,746member
    lkrupp said:
    Yawnnnnn... not even the trolls who live under the bridge here in AI care anymore.
    Actually, Apple-hating trolls that infest AI will simply accuse Apple of having the nerve to violate patents filed four years into the future.

    They'll figure a way out to blame Apple.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 37
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,961member
    Knowing someone who had to fight to assert their well-earned patent rights, I don’t think it’s fair to call any person or company a “patent troll” until they’re proven otherwise. Until everything shakes out in court they are simply a party filing a lawsuit.
    If you aren't producing a product, you are by definition a patent troll.

    As someone whose company fought two patent battles and won both, I’m not so sure that it’s that’s simple. My company, a small speaker/electronics manufacturer, had our patents broached. Yes, we manufactured products based on them.

    but what about companies like IBM that spend considerable money on R&D, specifically to develop technologies to license to others? Correctly, a patent is a product, and those that develop them, according to the Constitution itself, have the right to use them as they choose.

    so that’s where it gets complicated. If I develop a patent, and can’t sell or license it, and don’t have the wherewithal to produce it myself, I have the right to sell it to someone who thinks they can benefit from it. That’s perfectly legal, and proper.

    but here’s the problem, and it happens to inventors who have sold their patents to others. If someone holding a patent sees someone violating it, they should be required to either contact that someone within a period of time that is fairly short, to express their grievance, and if they don’t receive satisfaction (whether they are correct, or not), to then take the matter to court. I see nothing wrong with that.

    however, a real patent troll waits, sometimes for years, before bringing their case forwards, hoping that the success of the product has resulted in large amounts of sales, and a dependence upon that patent, and product, by those producing it. That way, they hope the producer of the product will believe they have to settle for a large payout. Generally, but not always, that means acquiring a fair sized library of patents, since the chance is low for any one patent being useful, or used by someone.

    in this particular case, we don’t yet have any real facts. As the original patent dates from 2012, you would think that they have a case, but not necessarily. It’s possible that their, and Apple’s methods don’t really match closely enough. It’s also possible that the 2016 application moves them closer. But that may not matter as it’s too late. But then, Apple could have changed their own methods. 

    The basic language in patent descriptions isn’t the final determination as to intent and method, as two people can describe somewhat different things with similar, or even exactly the same language. The technical aspects of the patent need to be examined to see how closely they match.
    edited September 21 SpamSandwichsphericFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 15 of 37
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,967administrator
    Knowing someone who had to fight to assert their well-earned patent rights, I don’t think it’s fair to call any person or company a “patent troll” until they’re proven otherwise. Until everything shakes out in court they are simply a party filing a lawsuit.
    If you aren't producing a product, you are by definition a patent troll.


    That’s false. They would be an NPE (Non-Practicing Entity). “Patent troll” is not a legal term. I thought we addressed this distinction previously.

    https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=2bc351e0-c393-4637-9c38-306ff7713557
    You said what you wanted to say about it, yes. Cornell Law has a definition too.

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/patent_troll

    Compare and contrast the two patent stories from today, the companies involved, and how we've presented the information. See if you can find any differences between the two companies.
    edited September 21 jbdragonsuperklotonnetmagebadmonkwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 37
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,961member

    Knowing someone who had to fight to assert their well-earned patent rights, I don’t think it’s fair to call any person or company a “patent troll” until they’re proven otherwise. Until everything shakes out in court they are simply a party filing a lawsuit.
    If you aren't producing a product, you are by definition a patent troll.

    Knowing someone who had to fight to assert their well-earned patent rights, I don’t think it’s fair to call any person or company a “patent troll” until they’re proven otherwise. Until everything shakes out in court they are simply a party filing a lawsuit.
    If you aren't producing a product, you are by definition a patent troll.


    That’s false. They would be an NPE (Non-Practicing Entity). “Patent troll” is not a legal term. I thought we addressed this distinction previously.

    https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=2bc351e0-c393-4637-9c38-306ff7713557
    I’ve seen a number of definitions, and I’m not satisfied that any are correct in their entirety. Yes, companies that buy patents just to sit on the sidelines and wait for someone to violate them, is most likely easily described as a patent troll.

    but I’ve sat in on meetings here in NYC of an inventors group. Most of them have interesting patents. Unfortunately, the way business works, it can be very hard, some say almost impossible to produce them on their own. It’s also very difficult to get companies to even talk to them. There is both the :not invented here” syndrome, and the much more serious problem of companies believing, not without cause, that merely talking to an inventor will set them up for a later lawsuit.

    if someone sends Apple an idea, or even a patent, Apple simply puts that in a larger envelope, and sends it back unopened. It’s all about liability. Companies could be working on the same thing that some random inventor wants to license, or sell to them.

    so the inventor might sell the patent to a patent licensing firm, which, by the way, is perfectly legal.

    the difference is what that firm does next. If they have the proper industry contacts, they would try to license it properly. That would be a real business, and there are many firms who have been doing this for a very long time. But as I mentioned in my above post, they just sit on them, and wait for someone to use the tech who, most likely looked to find patents, but couldn’t (which happens more often than you would think), then that’s troll-like behavior.
    SpamSandwichrandominternetpersonspheric
  • Reply 17 of 37
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,961member
    Knowing someone who had to fight to assert their well-earned patent rights, I don’t think it’s fair to call any person or company a “patent troll” until they’re proven otherwise. Until everything shakes out in court they are simply a party filing a lawsuit.
    If you aren't producing a product, you are by definition a patent troll.


    That’s false. They would be an NPE (Non-Practicing Entity). “Patent troll” is not a legal term. I thought we addressed this distinction previously.

    https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=2bc351e0-c393-4637-9c38-306ff7713557
    You said what you wanted to say about it, yes. Cornell Law has a definition too.

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/patent_troll

    Compare and contrast the two patent stories from today, the companies involved, and how we've presented the information. See if you can find any differences between the two companies.
    That wouldn’t stand up in court. It’s whether the patent is valid, and it’s being violated that matters, not who owns the patent. I’m not impressed with any definition I’ve seen. When I discuss it with my wife who was a corporate lawyer for decades, as well as a friend who is a patent attorney, they agree that the definitions lack reality when I describe specific situations. They both agree that on the surface, the definitions SEEM right, but upon delving further, they’re not.
    edited September 21 SpamSandwichmdriftmeyerspheric
  • Reply 18 of 37
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,967administrator
    melgross said:
    Knowing someone who had to fight to assert their well-earned patent rights, I don’t think it’s fair to call any person or company a “patent troll” until they’re proven otherwise. Until everything shakes out in court they are simply a party filing a lawsuit.
    If you aren't producing a product, you are by definition a patent troll.


    That’s false. They would be an NPE (Non-Practicing Entity). “Patent troll” is not a legal term. I thought we addressed this distinction previously.

    https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=2bc351e0-c393-4637-9c38-306ff7713557
    You said what you wanted to say about it, yes. Cornell Law has a definition too.

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/patent_troll

    Compare and contrast the two patent stories from today, the companies involved, and how we've presented the information. See if you can find any differences between the two companies.
    That wouldn’t stand up in court. It’s whether the patent is valid, and it’s being violated that matters, not who owns the patent. I’m not impressed with any definition I’ve seen. When I discuss it with my wife who was a corporate lawyer for decades, as well as a friend who is a patent attorney, they agree that the definitions lack reality when I describe specific situations. They both agree that on the surface, the definitions SEEM right, but upon delving further, they’re not.
    None of this has any bearing on the use of the term in a headline. A company with two members that we can't confirm exist, that has no tax filings in its state of origination for four years, and uses a mail aggregator office for a mailing address, we will call a patent troll as we see fit.

    If the terminology bothers any given reader, they don't have to read the story.
    edited September 21 superklotonnetmagekurairevenantbadmonk
  • Reply 19 of 37
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,961member
    melgross said:
    Knowing someone who had to fight to assert their well-earned patent rights, I don’t think it’s fair to call any person or company a “patent troll” until they’re proven otherwise. Until everything shakes out in court they are simply a party filing a lawsuit.
    If you aren't producing a product, you are by definition a patent troll.


    That’s false. They would be an NPE (Non-Practicing Entity). “Patent troll” is not a legal term. I thought we addressed this distinction previously.

    https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=2bc351e0-c393-4637-9c38-306ff7713557
    You said what you wanted to say about it, yes. Cornell Law has a definition too.

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/patent_troll

    Compare and contrast the two patent stories from today, the companies involved, and how we've presented the information. See if you can find any differences between the two companies.
    That wouldn’t stand up in court. It’s whether the patent is valid, and it’s being violated that matters, not who owns the patent. I’m not impressed with any definition I’ve seen. When I discuss it with my wife who was a corporate lawyer for decades, as well as a friend who is a patent attorney, they agree that the definitions lack reality when I describe specific situations. They both agree that on the surface, the definitions SEEM right, but upon delving further, they’re not.
    None of this has any bearing on the use of the term in a headline. A company with two members that we can't confirm exist, that has no tax filings in its state of origination for four years, and use a mail aggregator office for a mailing address, we will call a patent troll as we see fit.
    Ohh, “as we see fit”. Those are fighting words. Are you angry that we might not agree with you?
    SpamSandwichFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 20 of 37
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,967administrator
    melgross said:
    melgross said:
    Knowing someone who had to fight to assert their well-earned patent rights, I don’t think it’s fair to call any person or company a “patent troll” until they’re proven otherwise. Until everything shakes out in court they are simply a party filing a lawsuit.
    If you aren't producing a product, you are by definition a patent troll.


    That’s false. They would be an NPE (Non-Practicing Entity). “Patent troll” is not a legal term. I thought we addressed this distinction previously.

    https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=2bc351e0-c393-4637-9c38-306ff7713557
    You said what you wanted to say about it, yes. Cornell Law has a definition too.

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/patent_troll

    Compare and contrast the two patent stories from today, the companies involved, and how we've presented the information. See if you can find any differences between the two companies.
    That wouldn’t stand up in court. It’s whether the patent is valid, and it’s being violated that matters, not who owns the patent. I’m not impressed with any definition I’ve seen. When I discuss it with my wife who was a corporate lawyer for decades, as well as a friend who is a patent attorney, they agree that the definitions lack reality when I describe specific situations. They both agree that on the surface, the definitions SEEM right, but upon delving further, they’re not.
    None of this has any bearing on the use of the term in a headline. A company with two members that we can't confirm exist, that has no tax filings in its state of origination for four years, and use a mail aggregator office for a mailing address, we will call a patent troll as we see fit.
    Ohh, “as we see fit”. Those are fighting words. Are you angry that we might not agree with you?
    You are by all means welcome to disagree, but that doesn't mean that you're right or that we're going to change the headline.

    Why would I be angry about disagreement? "As we see fit" aren't fighting words. When I'm angry, it will be clear. Disagreement won't induce that.
    edited September 21 superklotonnetmagerevenant
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