VoIP-Pal again accuses Apple of patent infringement in new lawsuit

Posted:
in General Discussion
VoIP-Pal, which owns a portfolio of communications patents, has filed a new lawsuit claiming that the underlying system powering Apple's iMessage and FaceTime infringes on its intellectual property.

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple


The complaint, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, targets the "Apple Calling System" communications platform that includes Apple's server infrastructure, consumer devices, and software applications.

According to the lawsuit, this system infringes on a pair of patents held by VoIP-Pal. U.S. Patents No. 8,630,234 and No. 10,880,721 are both titled "Mobile Gateway" and detail a method of initiating phone calls by transmitting various codes between a caller and callee.

Apple's system infringes on the IP because they transmit various access codes or identifiers to support calling functionality in iMessage, FaceTime, and other systems, the lawsuit claims

"The Apple Calling System produces an access code identifying a communication channel useable by the mobile telephone or device to initiate a call to a callee using the channel. In the Apple Calling System, the access code is based on a location identifier and/or based on a location pre-associated with the mobile telephone or device," the lawsuit reads.

Additionally, the plaintiff also accuses Apple of knowingly infringing on the communication protocol patents.

Apple had knowledge of the patents since at least November 2015, when VoIP-Pal sent a letter notifying the Cupertino tech giant of the patent applications that would eventually become the patents-in-suit. VoIP-Pal reportedly offered Apple a license to its patent portfolio, which Apple refused.

As such, the complaint alleges that Apple is knowingly infringing on VoIP-Pal's intellectual property.

This isn't the first time that VoIP-Pal has sued Apple for alleged patent infringement. Back in 2016, it levied a lawsuit claiming $2.8 billion in damages because of features like iMessage. It again accused Apple of patent infringement in 2018, as well as in April 2020.

Apple has challenged the various lawsuits over the years. However, not all of its attempts have been successful. In November 2020, VoIP-Pal won an appeal in the Federal Circuit, bringing ongoing litigation back to lower courts.

The lawsuit on Friday, which demands a jury trial, seeks an order enjoining Apple from infringing on the patents-in-suit and damages for the alleged infringement, among other prayers for relief.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    Here we go again. Another pathetic attempt to extort money from Apple for being successful.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 21
    Everybody has patents and can’t produce anything worthwhile with them.  So they file lawsuits when someone actually does.  Both political parties have now controlled congress and neither has fixed this.  So if we follow the money, who is benefitting?   What will it take to fix the patent system???? 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 21
    When you’re a big company you get sued a lot. When you’re a big company you get sued a lot over code. These kind of lawsuits are SOP. 
    When you’re a company with a lot of patents, you potentially could be revenue positive just by ongoing litigation work. 

    Nothing to see here..
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 21
    armandxparmandxp Posts: 10member
    It’s just amazing how almost all of these lawsuits come from Texas. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 21
    "Lemme guess.... the Western District of Texas."
    *Opens eyes.
    "I knew it!"

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 21
    danoxdanox Posts: 599member
    America eating itself from within, it’s the little things that add up over time, China is on it's way to victory.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 21
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,712member
    I've said it before and I'll say it again: Patents have to be made nontransferable. Overnight that would eliminate these parasites. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 21
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,452member
    Okay, once again, for those who think the patent system should be reformed, it ain’t gonna happen! There’s too much money to be made by lawyers suing companies like Apple. The ‘system’ likes it just the way it is. Non practicing entities are the Goose That Laid The Golden Egg for patent lawyers.
    DAalsethdanox
  • Reply 9 of 21
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,668member
    armandxp said:
    It’s just amazing how almost all of these lawsuits come from Texas. 
    The Western District is now the most litigation friendly. It used to be the Eastern District that was most friendly.  However, the law changed regarding the location of the litigants.   
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 21
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,668member
    lkrupp said:
    Okay, once again, for those who think the patent system should be reformed, it ain’t gonna happen! There’s too much money to be made by lawyers suing companies like Apple. The ‘system’ likes it just the way it is. Non practicing entities are the Goose That Laid The Golden Egg for patent lawyers.
    I know someone very well who was an examiner, an engineer and an IP attorney.  There’s a lot of very legit business in terms of IP litigation, but you’re not wrong.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 21
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,467member
    DAalseth said:
    I've said it before and I'll say it again: Patents have to be made nontransferable. Overnight that would eliminate these parasites. 
    This is actually a stupid idea and would make the patent  system only accessible to big corporations.  I know a smart scientist guy who holds some patents on real innovative technology he has invented.  What is he supposed to do with them in your case?  Don’t say “license” because that is in effect a transfer.  You end up in the same spot you think we are in now. 

    These suits, whether by practicing entities or non-practicing entities, are part of the system on purpose.  They are a check and balance against bad patents. The patent issuers could probably do a better job in some cases and not issue patents for obvious things or mere ideas without specific implementation details, but these suits are how the system guards against bad patents.  And the patent office probably learns if enough patents are overturned in these suits to modify how they issue them. 
    edited June 26
  • Reply 12 of 21
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,467member
    The whole idea of “non practicing entity” is irrelevant. If someone is in violation of a patent it doesn’t matter if the entity that brings the suit is non practicing or not.  

    Zilch.  Nada.  Makes no difference. 

    A lot of new ideas are made by small guys (inventors/engineers/scientists) who don’t have the means to produce their own product. Their interest is in the invention of the tech.    They can either license or sell the patents they get on their new technology in order to monetize their work of inventing.  Or sometimes big companies create and invent new tech but it is not in their main product field or they abandon a product field and still have the patents they created.  So they can license or sell the patents to someone else and therefore get a return on their investment.  

    In both cases, the entity that buys the patents will want to get a return on their investment.  If the idea is indeed something that should have been patentable then it makes no difference at all if the new holder of the patent intends to make their own product or just enforce the patent against others who are allegedly breaking the patent. 

    edited June 26 beowulfschmidt
  • Reply 13 of 21
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,712member
    chadbag said:
    DAalseth said:
    I've said it before and I'll say it again: Patents have to be made nontransferable. Overnight that would eliminate these parasites. 
    This is actually a stupid idea and would make the patent  system only accessible to big corporations.  I know a smart scientist guy who holds some patents on real innovative technology he has invented.  What is he supposed to do with them in your case?  Don’t say “license” because that is in effect a transfer.  You end up in the same spot you think we are in now. 

    These suits, whether by practicing entities or non-practicing entities, are part of the system on purpose.  They are a check and balance against bad patents. The patent issuers could probably do a better job in some cases and not issue patents for obvious things or mere ideas without specific implementation details, but these suits are how the system guards against bad patents.  And the patent office probably learns if enough patents are overturned in these suits to modify how they issue them. 
    Wrong. Licensing is specifically and exactly NOT transferring it. If it were when I pay for a license to play the Beatles White Album I'd own it. A smart scientist would have a patent and a company could pay him to use it, but the ownership would remain with them. When he's gone, or a company that patents something goes bankrupt then it's public. Nobody would be hoovering up bucketloads of patents to run an extortion racket.
    Wrong. They are not a check on bad patents. They gum up the system so bad patents get some legs. The system would have more time to deal with bad patents, and companies would not feel they need to patent everything they can possibly dream up if the system weren't drowning in these nuisance suits. 
    edited June 26
  • Reply 14 of 21
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,250member
    chadbag said:
    The whole idea of “non practicing entity” is irrelevant. If someone is in violation of a patent it doesn’t matter if the entity that brings the suit is non practicing or not.  

    Zilch.  Nada.  Makes no difference. 

    A lot of new ideas are made by small guys (inventors/engineers/scientists) who don’t have the means to produce their own product. Their interest is in the invention of the tech.    They can either license or sell the patents they get on their new technology in order to monetize their work of inventing.  Or sometimes big companies create and invent new tech but it is not in their main product field or they abandon a product field and still have the patents they created.  So they can license or sell the patents to someone else and therefore get a return on their investment.  

    In both cases, the entity that buys the patents will want to get a return on their investment.  If the idea is indeed something that should have been patentable then it makes no difference at all if the new holder of the patent intends to make their own product or just enforce the patent against others who are allegedly breaking the patent. 

    I would dispute your arguments. Non practicing entities by definition produce nothing; they exist solely for the purpose of suing other companies. The net result of this is legal fees and court costs. 

    Beyond this, many of the patents are not actually enforceable but companies take the easier and cheaper route of settling rather than spending the money to fight it in court. 

    Finally you have jurisdictions like western Texas that essentially cater to lawsuits, encouraging them. 

    The end result of this is a bunch of lawyers getting rich and millions of dollars wasted by the defending companies. It’s not just the tech giants, either, more often smaller companies are the victims of such legal extortion and the NPEs use the strategy of suing smaller companies to set precedence and build up cash reserves to subsequently sue larger companies. 

    Lawsuits should be limited to the actual inventor or a company that uses the patent. If an inventor feels someone is using their patent, they can partner with a firm to sue and get their due. This concept of selling patents to entities whose sole purpose is to sue others does nothing for society. 
    danox
  • Reply 15 of 21
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,467member
    DAalseth said:
    chadbag said:
    DAalseth said:
    I've said it before and I'll say it again: Patents have to be made nontransferable. Overnight that would eliminate these parasites. 
    This is actually a stupid idea and would make the patent  system only accessible to big corporations.  I know a smart scientist guy who holds some patents on real innovative technology he has invented.  What is he supposed to do with them in your case?  Don’t say “license” because that is in effect a transfer.  You end up in the same spot you think we are in now. 

    These suits, whether by practicing entities or non-practicing entities, are part of the system on purpose.  They are a check and balance against bad patents. The patent issuers could probably do a better job in some cases and not issue patents for obvious things or mere ideas without specific implementation details, but these suits are how the system guards against bad patents.  And the patent office probably learns if enough patents are overturned in these suits to modify how they issue them. 
    Wrong. Licensing is specifically and exactly NOT transferring it. If it were when I pay for a license to play the Beatles White Album I'd own it. A smart scientist would have a patent and a company could pay him to use it, but the ownership would remain with them. When he's gone, or a company that patents something goes bankrupt then it's public. Nobody would be hoovering up bucketloads of patents to run an extortion racket.
    Wrong. They are not a check on bad patents. They gum up the system so bad patents get some legs. The system would have more time to deal with bad patents, and companies would not feel they need to patent everything they can possibly dream up if the system weren't drowning in these nuisance suits. 

    Of course transferring and licensing are different in many ways.  But not in the case of patent suits.  Small guy has patent.  Licenses it to big guy, who then bankrolls the suit by the small guy, who couldn't normally afford to go after patent infringement cases against his patents.  So in the case we are actually talking about, they are one and the same.  Big guy licenses the patent specifically to bankroll the suit and collect percentage of judgement.

    And YES, patent suits ARE a check against bad patents.  They do not gum up the system.  They are part of the system and how we are able to adjudicate disputes and fix bad patents.   They do not allow bad patents to get legs.  That  makes no sense at all.   And I don't think the system is drowning in nuisance cases.  Show me actual statistics on how many "nuisance" cases there are vs "valid" patent cases.  Your arguments make no sense.

    A modern and free system has checks and balances.  We cannot expect that the patent office will always make good decisions on granting patents.  Some will be granted that shouldn't have been.  Testing them in court is how we fix things.  The same way, in the US we have a "congress" where two houses have to pass a bill to make a law, the President has to sign it (or get over ridden on a veto by a super majority), and the courts to adjudicate what the laws mean.
  • Reply 16 of 21
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,467member

    MplsP said:
    chadbag said:
    The whole idea of “non practicing entity” is irrelevant. If someone is in violation of a patent it doesn’t matter if the entity that brings the suit is non practicing or not.  

    Zilch.  Nada.  Makes no difference. 

    A lot of new ideas are made by small guys (inventors/engineers/scientists) who don’t have the means to produce their own product. Their interest is in the invention of the tech.    They can either license or sell the patents they get on their new technology in order to monetize their work of inventing.  Or sometimes big companies create and invent new tech but it is not in their main product field or they abandon a product field and still have the patents they created.  So they can license or sell the patents to someone else and therefore get a return on their investment.  

    In both cases, the entity that buys the patents will want to get a return on their investment.  If the idea is indeed something that should have been patentable then it makes no difference at all if the new holder of the patent intends to make their own product or just enforce the patent against others who are allegedly breaking the patent. 

    I would dispute your arguments. Non practicing entities by definition produce nothing; they exist solely for the purpose of suing other companies. The net result of this is legal fees and court costs. 

    Beyond this, many of the patents are not actually enforceable but companies take the easier and cheaper route of settling rather than spending the money to fight it in court. 

    Finally you have jurisdictions like western Texas that essentially cater to lawsuits, encouraging them. 

    The end result of this is a bunch of lawyers getting rich and millions of dollars wasted by the defending companies. It’s not just the tech giants, either, more often smaller companies are the victims of such legal extortion and the NPEs use the strategy of suing smaller companies to set precedence and build up cash reserves to subsequently sue larger companies. 

    Lawsuits should be limited to the actual inventor or a company that uses the patent. If an inventor feels someone is using their patent, they can partner with a firm to sue and get their due. This concept of selling patents to entities whose sole purpose is to sue others does nothing for society. 

    The validity of a patent does not rely on it being owned by a "practicing" entity.  The validity of a patent is totally unconnected.  Therefore, whether a suit is filed by a "non-practicing" entity or a "practicing" one is irrelevant.  The heart of the matter is the validity and possible infringement of a patent.  
    And non-practicing entities play a vital part of the patent system.   Inventor develops new technology.  His interest is in inventing, not making stuff.  So he sells the patent to a "non-practicing" entity, who goes out and tries to license it.  The inventor was able to get a return on his time inventing it, and now the new owner needs to get a return on their investment in the patent.  They do that by trying to license it, usually.  (Notice that in almost all of these suits they tried to license it to the company being sued, first -- whether or not the fee requested was reasonable is a different matter, and the company being sued refuses to license) If they don't get takers, they usually file suit.   If it is valid, the company found to be infringing on it has to pay for the use of it.   Here the non-practicing entity played the vital role of providing the inventor a return on his/her efforts.

    A similar story is, as I already metioned earlier in a different reply, a company that develops technology that is anciliiary to otheir main focus, and wants to get a return on their investment in that technology (but they won't make a product out of it as it is not their focus), or they change focus and no longer make products in a  certain field where they developed new technology and hold patents, and they want to get a return for that investment.  So they sell the patents. Sometimes the buyers are non-practicing entities.  Same story as with the inventor above.

    By the way, non-practicing entities don't really exist.  Those called that are actually in the licensing business.  Just because they don't have a factory making something doesn't mean they are not "practicing".


    beowulfschmidt
  • Reply 17 of 21
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,467member

    MplsP said:

    Lawsuits should be limited to the actual inventor or a company that uses the patent. If an inventor feels someone is using their patent, they can partner with a firm to sue and get their due. This concept of selling patents to entities whose sole purpose is to sue others does nothing for society. 

    This makes no sense.  That is WHAT THEY ARE DOING.  The so-called NPE is the company helping them, in effect.  

    But you lose the economic incentive for the inventor to invent as he cannot monetize his invention without having big bucks behind him to run a licensing company or to file suits.
  • Reply 18 of 21
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,250member
    chadbag said:

    MplsP said:

    Lawsuits should be limited to the actual inventor or a company that uses the patent. If an inventor feels someone is using their patent, they can partner with a firm to sue and get their due. This concept of selling patents to entities whose sole purpose is to sue others does nothing for society. 

    This makes no sense.  That is WHAT THEY ARE DOING.  The so-called NPE is the company helping them, in effect.  

    But you lose the economic incentive for the inventor to invent as he cannot monetize his invention without having big bucks behind him to run a licensing company or to file suits.
    No, that is not what they are doing. NPEs aggregate large numbers of patents at relatively low cost solely for the purpose of filing lawsuits. The patent inventor gets he no benefit from these suits since s/he no longer owns the patent, nor can they benefit from the sale of the patent to a company with an actual use for the patent. There’s a fundamental difference there. 

    NPEs / patent trolls are not a ‘vital part’ of the patent system, they are an abuse of it. And yes, they are non-practicing. They produce nothing except legal paperwork and fees.
  • Reply 19 of 21
    When you’re a big company you get sued a lot. When you’re a big company you get sued a lot over code. These kind of lawsuits are SOP. 
    When you’re a company with a lot of patents, you potentially could be revenue positive just by ongoing litigation work. 

    Nothing to see here..
    Is there actual code or is it simply another company patenting an idea?

    Put a wheel in the vehicle perpendicular to the direction of travel wherein rotating it clockwise will turn the vehicle right and counterclockwise will turn the vehicle left.
  • Reply 20 of 21
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,511member
    I infer that VOIP-PAL is an acronym for Voice Over IP - Patent Abuse Litigation.  :) 
    MplsP
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