MemoryWeb sues Apple over Photos app 'Places' and 'People' tech

in General Discussion edited June 2021
MemoryWeb, developer of a photo organizer app, claims Apple's Photos and supporting services infringe on patents covering methods of organizing and viewing a photographic archive based on properties like location, tagged people and other identifiers.


Lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on Tuesday, MemoryWeb's suit alleges Apple's Photos apps in iOS and macOS infringe on patents that "allow[] people to organize, view, preserve these files with all the memory details captured, connected and vivified via an interactive interface."

The company asserts U.S. Patent Nos. 9,552,376, 10,423,658, 10,621,228 and 11,017,020, an IP clutch that details methods of organizing photographs by tags and metadata for later recall. The patents were respectively granted in 2017, 2019, 2020 and, most recently, today.

As explained in the filing, personal digital photography has boomed with the advent of smartphones. Users can typically have hundreds or thousands of photos on a device, making manual cataloging and sorting an onerous burden.

"Consumers seeking to find, view or display a particular photo within a vast library of photos would often need to search through large and complex interfaces by, for instance, scrolling through a photo library of thousands of pictures taken over months or years to find a particular photo from a particular time or event," the complaint reads.

MemoryWeb's founders, who are also named as inventors of the asserted patents, patented a system that organizes a photo collection using a "variety of intuitive views," such as "Location view" and "People view." Location view, for example, displays photo thumbnails on an interactive map, while a "Multiple Location Application View" arranges photos in a grid. Similarly, a grid view is also used to display photos that contain a specific person. Timelines and sort by date options are also discussed.

Apple's Photos app features identical instrumentalities, according to the complaint. In both macOS and iOS, users can enter an interactive map view by browsing by location, and are able to search People albums. Apple introduced geotagged photo collections -- and a crude interactive map view -- on iOS 7 in 2013, borrowing from Mac's iPhoto app.

Apple has allowed users to search by face -- with automated facial recognition powered by machine vision algorithms -- since iOS 10 in 2016. It is unclear if the same technology is applied to any MemoryWeb product.

MemoryWeb notes Apple cited certain MemoryWeb patent application publications in the prosecution of its own photo management IP, though the tech giant at the time had already introduced basic location-based browsing functionality in both iOS and Mac OS X.

Plaintiffs seek damages and court fees.

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  • Reply 1 of 8
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,575member
    I’m not a patent attorney, but a patent covering “different ways of sorting photos” seems painfully obvious — and thus shouldn’t be patentable.

    Unless Apple copied MemoryWeb’s face recognition algorithm, that one isn’t going to go anywhere, and “sorting photos using the EXIF location data” is also not an enforceable patent without copied code, which seems unlikely.

  • Reply 2 of 8
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,800member
    Maybe I’ll go look at the details, but these seem more like “idea parents”, which shouldn’t be patentable.   It would have to show specific methods/processes  on achieving the ideas.  We’ll have to see how this plays out.   
  • Reply 3 of 8
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,948member
    So photos tagged aren't allowed to be useful to the person who took the photo unless money is paid to these people who didn't bother saying boo for what 10years.
  • Reply 4 of 8
    MissNomerMissNomer Posts: 25member
    With the first patent issued 2017 I suspect this’ll go nowhere fast and fail at the “Prior art” hurdle. This sort of application has been around along time - much earlier than 2017.

    Hell, I used Picasa for just exactly this purpose - and not only did that start life in the early 2000s, Google had killed it by 2016: Such facts suspiciously absent in the patent filings.

    Not only that but Software Patents are hard to enforce: for these to be enforceable they be it need to check the “abstract idea” and/or include “transformative” claims.

    These patents do neither - in fact their very essence is based upon the existing EXIF data tags that have been around for honks now.

    My guess is this company is getting short on funds and are looking for a cash injection. This action will hopefully have the inverse effect and force these scummy idiots into bankruptcy.
    edited May 2021 dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 8
    thedbathedba Posts: 685member
    "Faces and places" was around back in the MobileMe days when Steve was still running the company. 
    edited May 2021 watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 8
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,255member
    More bogus software patent awards. These were issued on ideas, not implementations (code). Implementation is protected but ideas are not. Unless Apple stole their code, they didn’t steal the implementation. 

    Software patents are bogus. Code is already theft-protected with copyright.
    edited May 2021 dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 8
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    I’m here to say more of the same as everyone else commenting so far above!

    The patent system is utterly broken.
  • Reply 8 of 8
    Apple should counter sue for patent trolling..
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