Maxell sues Apple again over FaceTime and other iPhone features

Posted:
in iOS edited February 2021
Electronics producer Maxell has filed another lawsuit against Apple, once more accusing it of infringing on 12 patents through FaceTime and photographic features of the iPhone, iPad, and other hardware.




The filing on February 19 at the US District Court for the Western District of Texas Waco Division has Maxell undertaking the familiar role as plaintiff, accusing Apple of patent infringement.

This is far from Maxell's first time suing Apple, as it has attempted to do the same thing in 2019 and 2020 against the iPhone maker. As with the previous lawsuits, Maxell believes a selection of patents it controls are being abused by Apple, for which it wants compensation.

The patents for the latest lawsuit include:
  • 10,911,719 - "Communication Apparatus for Transmitting and Receiving Digital Information To and From Another Communication Apparatus"
  • 10,389,978 - "Communication apparatus for transmitting and receiving digital information to and from another communication apparatus"
  • 8,736,729 - "Electric Camera"
  • 6,816,491 - "Multiplexed audio data decoding apparatus and receiver apparatus"
  • 8,098,695 - "Multiplexed audio data decoding apparatus and receiver apparatus"
  • 7,551,209 - "Imaging apparatus and method for controlling white balance"
  • 8,130,284 - "Imaging apparatus and method for controlling white balance"
  • 10,264,456 - "Mobile terminal and control method thereof"
  • 10,418,069 - "Recording and reproducing apparatus and method thereof"
  • 7,072,673 - "Radio handset and position location system"
  • 10,592,372 - "Digital information recording apparatus, reproducing apparatus and transmitting apparatus"
  • 6,484,034 - "Radio handset and position location system"
Each patent is listed as an individual count in the lawsuit, but follows the pattern of accusing a large number of iPhone and iPad models, as well as the Apple Watch and in some cases Macs, of infringing.

Echoing the earlier patents, the first five from the list center their infringement claims on FaceTime's capabilities, as well as other related perceived issues. The '719 and '978 patents are also continuation patents of 10,084,991, a patent that Maxell used in its 2019 lawsuit against Apple.

The white balance patents all go after the capabilities of Apple's camera software to set the white balance of an image. This is a common camera function, and is typically needed to produce an ideal photograph.

The Mobile Terminal patent covers the unlocking of a mobile device, an argument that has previously appeared in a Maxell lawsuit. It is also a continuation patent of 10,212,586, which Maxell has attempted to use against Apple in 2019.

The '069 patent refers to the ability for users to use the People album in the Photos app, which uses facial recognition to find images of people within a user's photo library. Once more, it is a continuation patent, this time of patent number 10,176,848. Once again, that earlier patent was used by Maxell, in its 2020 legal action.

The two "Radio handset and position location system" patents cite the existence of Location Services as being infringing of the patent. Lastly, the 372 patent covers digital rights management systems, a feature of Apple's content-based stores and services.

The Prayer for Relief asks for the court to declare Apple as infringing on all patents, as well as compensatory damages with interest and costs "consistent with lost profits and in no event less than a reasonable royalty." Maxell also wants to triple the damages and pre-judgment interest on anything it receives, and the usual covering of its expenses, costs, and attorneys fees.

The new lawsuit joins a growing roster of other legal actions Maxell has attempted against Apple, but has so far not yet completed. In June 2020, a court agreed to special measures for the 2019 lawsuit to allow Maxell the ability to review Apple's source code.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,060member
    Does Maxell have any product similar to FaceTime? If all they have are bits and pieces of coding or “thoughts” why can they sue? It’s like building a house and being sued for using wood 2x4s. 
    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 17
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,915member
    rob53 said:
    Does Maxell have any product similar to FaceTime? If all they have are bits and pieces of coding or “thoughts” why can they sue? It’s like building a house and being sued for using wood 2x4s. 
    They don’t need to have a product similar to FaceTime. That’s not how the system works. 
    bonobobelijahgbeowulfschmidtllamawatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 17
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,915member
    In other news, Maxell still exists.  This is a real product:  

    https://maxell-usa.com/product/rewind-wireless-speaker/
    edited February 2021
  • Reply 4 of 17
    ”It’s hard out there for a pimp . . .” Not much of a market for cassette tapes anymore, but there’s always the courts. 
    edited February 2021 gilly33watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 17
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,060member
    ”It’s hard out there for a pimp . . .” Not much of a market for cassette tapes anymore, but there’s always the courts. 
    Which makes me wonder who’s patents they bought to try and stay relevant. At some point the original patent owner had to have some kind of viable product to get it through the USPTO. Or maybe not .....
    gilly33watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 17
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,408member
    At what point does this become abuse of the courts which I would think would result in Maxell getting slapped down. 
    Also if Maxell has already lost very similar to identical claims, how can they keep refiling?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 17
    There needs to be a new patent stipulation where "if patent is not actively used within three years it becomes invalid" or some such text. Otherwise, it's just a way for patent trolls to continue to profit off vaporware.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 17
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,652member
    JinTech said:
    There needs to be a new patent stipulation where "if patent is not actively used within three years it becomes invalid" or some such text. Otherwise, it's just a way for patent trolls to continue to profit off vaporware.
    That'd invalidate 90% of Apple's patents, since they have thousands of patents they have never used and most likely have no intention of using. However I do think there should be a time limit as you say, or maybe that companies should have a demonstrable use of the patent upon application. That'd stop companies like Apple patenting every idea they get, hoarding up a patent portfolio to attack people with and blocking others from actually doing something with the idea.

    There are some situations where the patents are either so vague they're too broad, and other situations where patents are so specific that a slight variation on an existing idea becomes caught up in patent litigation, as the variation is patented whereas the original idea isn't. Some patents just shouldn't be given at all.
    robaballama
  • Reply 9 of 17
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,652member

    rob53 said:
    ”It’s hard out there for a pimp . . .” Not much of a market for cassette tapes anymore, but there’s always the courts. 
    Which makes me wonder who’s patents they bought to try and stay relevant. At some point the original patent owner had to have some kind of viable product to get it through the USPTO. Or maybe not .....
    As Sdw2001 said, that's not how it works. You don't need an example of the patent in use to be granted a patent.
    llama
  • Reply 10 of 17
    So given the state of the vague patents, I’m going to patent ‘bring a lawsuit again a company or individual because the have breached an vaguely describes a basic function of any device would need to do. So every time these type of companies rear their head I can get in on the act and sue them for breaching my pattern by suing in the first place!  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 17
    This seems silly, but it looks like they also sued Huawei, Asustek and ZTE, and,

    “The prior case against and ZTE (USA) Inc., Maxell Ltd. v. ZTE (USA) Inc., Case  No. 5:16-cv-00179-RWS, culminated in a ten day jury trial resulting in a verdict in favor of Maxell.“

    They don’t mention the results of the other cases, which are also finished, so I assume they lost those. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 17
    DAalseth said:
    At what point does this become abuse of the courts which I would think would result in Maxell getting slapped down. 
    Also if Maxell has already lost very similar to identical claims, how can they keep refiling?
    As long as you have the cash you can. 
  • Reply 13 of 17
    rob53 said:
    Does Maxell have any product similar to FaceTime? If all they have are bits and pieces of coding or “thoughts” why can they sue? It’s like building a house and being sued for using wood 2x4s. 
    Maybe more like Star Trek set designers suing Apple for a computing device in a glass (or maybe transparent crystalline) slab.

    With the recordable media market rapidly dwindling, Maxell is probably having problems finding something relevant to produce (outside of lawsuits).

    Expect this sort of behavior from all the buggy whip manufacturers.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 17


    The patents for the latest lawsuit include:
    • 10,911,719 - "Communication Apparatus for Transmitting and Receiving Digital Information To and From Another Communication Apparatus"
    • 10,389,978 - "Communication apparatus for transmitting and receiving digital information to and from another communication apparatus"
    • 8,736,729 - "Electric Camera"
    • 6,816,491 - "Multiplexed audio data decoding apparatus and receiver apparatus"
    • 8,098,695 - "Multiplexed audio data decoding apparatus and receiver apparatus"
    • 7,551,209 - "Imaging apparatus and method for controlling white balance"
    • 8,130,284 - "Imaging apparatus and method for controlling white balance"
    • 10,264,456 - "Mobile terminal and control method thereof"
    • 10,418,069 - "Recording and reproducing apparatus and method thereof"
    • 7,072,673 - "Radio handset and position location system"
    • 10,592,372 - "Digital information recording apparatus, reproducing apparatus and transmitting apparatus"
    • 6,484,034 - "Radio handset and position location system"

    Be nice if AppleInsider would provide links to these so we could see if they're patents with some meat to them or are just speculative musings that should properly be adjudicated in the Eastern District of Texas's troll patent corridor.

    It's kinda sad to see previously reputable manufacturers going after the money like that, but even Koss Headphones got into the game ...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 17
    wow alot of complete nonsense posted in this thread.

    You people don't seem to know anything about how the US patent system works.

    The general point of a patent is that you disclose your new invention and get 20 years of exclusive use of that technology. It promotes innovation and protects companies  and individuals from having their technology stolen
    rob53 said:
    Does Maxell have any product similar to FaceTime? If all they have are bits and pieces of coding or “thoughts” why can they sue? It’s like building a house and being sued for using wood 2x4s. 
    Maxell doesn't need a similar product, they own the patent and therefore the rights to the technology. They patented the invention before Apple started using it. Maxell absolutely has the right to sue for damages as that technology could have be sold or licensed to another company who could have used it, but Apple ignored those rights and profited from their free use of it. If Apple did it better then Maxell or if Maxell never even used it is besides the point.
    rob53 said:
    ”It’s hard out there for a pimp . . .” Not much of a market for cassette tapes anymore, but there’s always the courts. 
    Which makes me wonder who’s patents they bought to try and stay relevant. At some point the original patent owner had to have some kind of viable product to get it through the USPTO. Or maybe not .....
    Maxell didn't buy these patents, Maxell is owned by Hitachi which is/was a massive innovator and holds more patents then Apple. You can see in the assignment history for these patents that they were originally Hitachi patents. Maxell got these patents from Hitachi, so if it wasn't Maxell litigating it would be Hitachi. and even it was some other company and the patent had been sold through a chain of 10 other companies, it doesn't effect their value. it doesn't matter who invented them, it matters only who holds them.

    Like the rights to a house, you can sell it, your building of it means nothing.

    Also, check out this list of worlds largest patent owners: https://www.ificlaims.com/rankings-global-assets-2019.htm

    You don't need a "viable product" to get through the USPTO, what rubbish.

    Also Hitachi made phones at one point, they were shit but that is besides the point. they were innovating in this area because they had products in this area.
    JinTech said:
    There needs to be a new patent stipulation where "if patent is not actively used within three years it becomes invalid" or some such text. Otherwise, it's just a way for patent trolls to continue to profit off vaporware.
    what a joke, 3 years lol, lol no one would ever file another patent, they would essentially be useless. Lets say you invent something amazing, billion dollar idea, you patent it, but cause you're a retard you can't get your business off the ground, Apple comes along and copies your idea and makes that billion dollars. what do you think of patent rights now? should you be allowed to sue Apple for crushing you?

    elijahg said:
    JinTech said:
    There needs to be a new patent stipulation where "if patent is not actively used within three years it becomes invalid" or some such text. Otherwise, it's just a way for patent trolls to continue to profit off vaporware.
    That'd invalidate 90% of Apple's patents, since they have thousands of patents they have never used and most likely have no intention of using. However I do think there should be a time limit as you say, or maybe that companies should have a demonstrable use of the patent upon application. That'd stop companies like Apple patenting every idea they get, hoarding up a patent portfolio to attack people with and blocking others from actually doing something with the idea.

    There are some situations where the patents are either so vague they're too broad, and other situations where patents are so specific that a slight variation on an existing idea becomes caught up in patent litigation, as the variation is patented whereas the original idea isn't. Some patents just shouldn't be given at all.
    There is a time limit, the built in 20 years that is the cornerstone of the patent system...

    Innovation occurs in small steps so you need specific patents. The technology in smartphones is so complex that you can't make a smartphone without using the technology of 1000s of patents, and this is just another example of that. If you don't pay for the right to use something, you will get sued.

    There is a legitimate problem with patents being granted which shouldn't be, one study found that a large proportion of active patents wouldn't survive reexamination. But that is why the patent office has IPR's and also why lawsuits can invalidate or confirm the validity of patents.

    Generally large companies don't sue other large companies without having investigated into the validity of the patents they are litigating. The buck stops with the courts, they determine what is valid and what isn't. One side will say it is and the other will say it isn't. They argue and the jury decides who is right.

    This seems silly, but it looks like they also sued Huawei, Asustek and ZTE, and,

    “The prior case against and ZTE (USA) Inc., Maxell Ltd. v. ZTE (USA) Inc., Case  No. 5:16-cv-00179-RWS, culminated in a ten day jury trial resulting in a verdict in favor of Maxell.“

    They don’t mention the results of the other cases, which are also finished, so I assume they lost those. 

    even a short google search shows those cases were either won or settled in Maxells favor. clearly they had a legitimate case for bringing the lawsuit.
    rob53 said:
    Does Maxell have any product similar to FaceTime? If all they have are bits and pieces of coding or “thoughts” why can they sue? It’s like building a house and being sued for using wood 2x4s. 
    Maybe more like Star Trek set designers suing Apple for a computing device in a glass (or maybe transparent crystalline) slab.

    With the recordable media market rapidly dwindling, Maxell is probably having problems finding something relevant to produce (outside of lawsuits).

    Expect this sort of behavior from all the buggy whip manufacturers.

    wow. As mentioned above, Maxell is owned by Hitachi, Hitachi made phones. these patents relate to FaceTime, white balance and face recognition when taking photos and unlocking a mobile device. They are clearly related to Apple and also predate the use of the technology in all instances.



    The patents for the latest lawsuit include:
    • 10,911,719 - "Communication Apparatus for Transmitting and Receiving Digital Information To and From Another Communication Apparatus"
    • 10,389,978 - "Communication apparatus for transmitting and receiving digital information to and from another communication apparatus"
    • 8,736,729 - "Electric Camera"
    • 6,816,491 - "Multiplexed audio data decoding apparatus and receiver apparatus"
    • 8,098,695 - "Multiplexed audio data decoding apparatus and receiver apparatus"
    • 7,551,209 - "Imaging apparatus and method for controlling white balance"
    • 8,130,284 - "Imaging apparatus and method for controlling white balance"
    • 10,264,456 - "Mobile terminal and control method thereof"
    • 10,418,069 - "Recording and reproducing apparatus and method thereof"
    • 7,072,673 - "Radio handset and position location system"
    • 10,592,372 - "Digital information recording apparatus, reproducing apparatus and transmitting apparatus"
    • 6,484,034 - "Radio handset and position location system"
    Be nice if AppleInsider would provide links to these so we could see if they're patents with some meat to them or are just speculative musings that should properly be adjudicated in the Eastern District of Texas's troll patent corridor.

    It's kinda sad to see previously reputable manufacturers going after the money like that, but even Koss Headphones got into the game ...
    Again google bro, these patent are very very easy to find. or use the USPTO website or any other of the dozens of free patent search sites around.



    Final thoughts, patents have value. They can be bought and sold and transferred. Jjust because someone isn't the original owner of the patent doesn't mean they can't sue for infringment of that patent, or that they shouldn't, because to get those patents money was exchanged. If you invent something, you should be allowed to sell the invention if you couldn't get the business to work. That person can now sue anyone else who tries to copy that invenetion because they paid for and now own the patent.

    Even if Maxell didn't orginally invent this technology (they did as part of Hitachi), they should still be allowed to sue from patent infringement.



    edited February 2021 jibFileMakerFellerelijahg
  • Reply 16 of 17
    Quote directly from the complaint, for those who are still stuck on the idea that this is "patent trolling":

    As more fully described below, in 2009 Hitachi, Ltd. assigned much of its consumer product-facing intellectual property to Hitachi Consumer Electronics Co., Ltd. Then, in 2013, Hitachi Consumer Electronics Co., Ltd. assigned the intellectual property, including the patents in this case, to Hitachi Maxell, Ltd., which later assigned the patents to Maxell as a result of a reorganization and name change. This reorganization was an effort to align its intellectual property with the licensing, business development, and research and development efforts of Maxell, including in the mobile and mobile-media device market (Hitachi, Ltd. and Hitachi Consumer Electronics Co., Ltd. are referred to herein collectively as “Hitachi”).

    These patents are Hitachi patents, assigned to Maxell for reorganizational reasons.



    elijahg
  • Reply 17 of 17
    1348513485 Posts: 243member
    JinTech said:
    There needs to be a new patent stipulation where "if patent is not actively used within three years it becomes invalid" or some such text. Otherwise, it's just a way for patent trolls to continue to profit off vaporware.
    Your wish is already built in: Generally, patents have a limited monopoly on the patent claims of 20 years. After that it's open to everybody. Every nation on earth thinks that's an acceptable system. Now you're just impatient about the timeframe.

    A patent is a property, and it has value. Patent owners can buy and sell (license, assign, etc.) the asset just like you can with your house or car. Sometimes it takes many years to raise the capital to prototype or manufacture something or find a buyer or partner. It doesn't mean you lose the asset.

    A patent isn't a barrier to innovation, it's a stimulant that has created more advances and wealth than any other stimulus in any economy in history.


    FileMakerFeller
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