U.S. ITC Launches Investigation Into Capacitive Devices Made by Apple and Others Following Patent Infringement Complaint

The United States International Trade Commission today announced an investigation into possible patent violations involving capacitive touch-controlled devices, computers, and components created by Apple, Amazon, Samsung, and others, reports Reuters.


According to a document announcing the investigation [PDF], it stems from a February complaint filed by Irish company Neodron claiming Apple and other companies are infringing on Neodron-owned patents related to touch-based devices.
The investigation is based on a complaint filed by Neodron, Ltd., of Dublin, Ireland, on February 14, 2020. The complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the United States and sale of certain capacitive touch-controlled mobile devices, computers, and components thereof that infringe patents asserted by the complainant. The complainant requests that the USITC issue a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders.
The ITC will investigate the complaint, which involves Amazon, Apple, ASUSTek, ASUS computer International, LG Electronics, LG Electronics USA, Microsoft, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, and Sony Mobile Communications to determine if there have been patent violations under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930.

Neodron is ultimately seeking a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders against the companies involved in the investigation. The ITC says that the launch of the investigation does not mean that a decision has been made on the merits of the case.

The case will be assigned to an administrative law judge who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing to make an initial determination as to whether there is indeed a patent infringement issue.

The U.S. ITC previously announced a similar investigation into touch-controlled devices, computers, and components in June, but Apple was not part of that particular investigation, which has now been expanded.
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Apple Pays VirnetX $454 Million for Patent Infringement After U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Apple’s Appeal

Apple has paid VirnetX a total of $454,033,859.87 following the conclusion of a long-running patent infringement battle, VirnetX announced today.


The patent dispute between VirnetX and Apple dates back to 2010 when VirnetX accused Apple's FaceTime feature of infringing on its intellectual property, and there are multiple lawsuits involved.

In this particular case, Apple was ordered to pay $302 million in October 2016, but with interest and other costs included, the judgement was increased to $440 million. Though Apple appealed the $440 million award many times, courts have continually ruled in VirnetX's favor.

Most recently, Apple attempted to get the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal, but the Supreme Court in February 2020 declined to intervene.

Apple claimed that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had canceled "key parts" of many of the patents involved in the case, but the courts rescinded that cancelation, leaving Apple responsible for the $440 million payment.

This is just one of two VirnetX cases that Apple has been fighting. In the second case, VirnetX was awarded $502 million, but the ruling was partially overturned last year and sent back to the lower courts to determine new damages. Apple in February attempted to get a rehearing to determine patent validity, but was denied.
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Apple Still Owes Caltech $838 Million as Appeals Court Declines to Invalidate Patent

Apple in January was ordered to pay the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) $838 million for infringing on Caltech patents related to WiFi transmissions.


Apple was hoping to get one of the patents in the case invalidated, but today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled against Apple and declined to invalidate the patent in question, upholding a prior decision from an administrative patent court.

According to Reuters, Apple tried to get the patent invalidated on "obviousness" grounds, suggesting the patent was an invention that came from standard product design and development and is obvious to experts.

The lawsuit dates back to 2016, when Caltech sued Apple and Broadcom for infringing on a series of patents granted between 2006 and 2012. The patents related to IRA/LDPC codes that use simpler encoding and decoding circuity for improved data transmission rates and performance, with the technologies used in the 802.11n and 802.11ac Wi-Fi standards supported by many Apple products.

Caltech claimed that Apple was infringing on four patents with the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, Apple TV, Airport routers, and Apple Watch, and demanded a jury trial along with preliminary and permanent injunctions against Apple products in the U.S. that use Caltech technology.

A jury in January ruled in Caltech's favor, ordering Broadcom to pay $270 million and Apple to pay $838 million. Apple still plans to appeal the verdict.


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Apple Won’t Get Rehearing in VirnetX Patent Infringement Battle Dating Back to 2010, Court Rules

Apple will not be able to get a rehearing in its ongoing patent battle with VirnetX to argue that the patents it is accused of infringing are invalid, reports Bloomberg.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit today rejected Apple's request to reconsider a November ruling that confirmed Apple infringed on two VirnetX patents.


The patent dispute between VirnetX and Apple dates back to 2010 when VirnetX accused Apple's FaceTime feature of infringing on its intellectual property, and there are multiple lawsuits involved.

In this particular case, VirnetX was awarded $502.6 million in April 2018 after a court ruled that Apple's FaceTime, iMessage, and VPN on Demand features infringed on four VirnetX patents related to communications security.

An appeals court later reexamined the ruling and determined that Apple had infringed on two VirnetX patents, but the other two counts were reversed in November 2019 and the $502.6 million award was vacated. The case was sent back to a lower court to determine whether revised damages can be calculated or if there will be a new damages trial, but the ruling was ultimately in favor of VirnetX.

At this time, with Apple's request for a rehearing on patent validity denied, Apple and VirnetX are awaiting details on the new damages Apple will be required to pay.

In a separate case, Apple was ordered to pay $440 million to VirnetX for similar patent infringement issues. Apple appealed that ruling multiple times as well, but an appeals court in January 2019 ruled in VirnetX's favor, leaving Apple responsible for a $440 million patent infringement fee.


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Apple Ordered to Pay Caltech $838 Million for Infringing on WiFi Patents

Apple and Broadcom have been ordered to pay the California Institute of Technology a fine of $1.1 billion for infringing on Caltech's patents related to WiFi transmissions, reports Bloomberg.

Apple has been ordered to pay $838 million, while Broadcom has been ordered to pay $270 million, but Apple plans to file an appeal.


Caltech in 2016 filed a lawsuit against Broadcom and Apple, claiming that the two companies infringed on a series of patents granted between 2006 and 2012. The patents in question relate to IRA/LDPC codes that use simpler encoding and decoding circuity for improved data transmission rates and performance, with the technologies used in the 802.11n and 802.11ac Wi-Fi standards supported by many Apple products.

At the time, Caltech said that Apple was infringing on four of its patents with the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, Apple TV, Airport routers, and Apple Watch. Caltech demanded a jury trial and preliminary and permanent injunctions in the U.S. against Apple products using its technology. A jury today ruled that Apple and Broadcom violated three of the four patents.

Apple and Broadcom denied infringing on the patents and even filed counterclaims against Caltech, urging the court to invalidate the patents in question.

Apple claimed that because Caltech didn't file the lawsuit until 2016, six years after the 802.11n wireless standard was published, the time limit to collect damages had expired. Apple also argued that Caltech does not make, use, or sell products that practice the claims in the asserted patents.


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Apple Ordered to Pay $85 Million in Royalties to WiLan in Patent Infringement Case

Apple must pay $85 million in royalties to Canadian patent holding company WiLan for infringing patents related to wireless communications, a jury in San Diego has ruled (via Bloomberg).


The two patents relate to making phone calls while simultaneously downloading data. In August 2018, a different jury said Apple infringed the patents and awarded WiLan $145 million, but a retrial was ordered to reconsider the damages.

At the January 2019 retrial, the court agreed that Apple had infringed on the patents. However, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw accepted Apple's argument that the method WiLan had used to calculate the appropriate royalty rate was flawed.

Sabraw urged the Quarterhill company to accept reduced damages of $10 million or prepare for another trial to figure out how much Apple needed to pay. WiLan chose another trial.

WiLan came to the latest royalty figure of $85 million based on iPhone sales. Apple unsuccessfully argued in court papers that the Ottawa-based holding company hadn't provided enough evidence to help the jury determine it was entitled to anything.

WiLan describes itself as "one of the most successful patent licensing companies in the world." Apple's legal dispute with WiLan started back in 2010, when WiLan claimed Apple violated one of its Bluetooth related products.


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Jury Rules in Favor of Qualcomm, Says Apple Infringed on Three Qualcomm Patents [Updated]

Apple and Qualcomm this week wrapped up a patent trial where Apple was accused of infringing on three of Qualcomm's patents, and the verdict from the jury is in -- Apple violated Qualcomm's patents in its iPhones.

According to CNET, the jury today sided with Qualcomm and said that Apple needs to pay Qualcomm upwards of $31 million, which is the total that Qualcomm had asked for in damages.


The patents in question cover a method for allowing a smartphone to quickly connect to the internet once turned on, graphics processing and battery life, and a method for allowing apps to download data more easily by directing traffic between the processor and modem.

During the trial, Apple argued that one of its engineers, Arjuna Siva, had a hand in inventing the technology included in the first patent mentioned above in an attempt to get the patent invalidated, but the jury did not buy Apple's argument.

Apple will undoubtedly appeal the jury's ruling, and the legal battle between Qualcomm and Apple is far from over. Next month, the two companies will be back in court over a lawsuit that Apple levied against Qualcomm after Qualcomm refused to pay $1 billion in rebate payments.

Yesterday, a preliminary ruling went in Apple's favor, with a U.S. District Judge deciding that Qualcomm is obligated to make the rebate payments to Apple under the terms of the cooperation agreement between the two companies.

Update: In a statement to Bloomberg, Apple said that Qualcomm is trying to distract from "larger issues" with patent infringement claims: "Qualcomm's ongoing campaign of patent infringement claims is nothing more than an attempt to distract from the larger issues they face with investigations into their business practices in US federal court, and around the world."



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Qualcomm Wants Apple to Pay $31 Million in Damages in Patent Battle

Qualcomm today told a San Diego jury that it wants Apple to pay $31 million in damages for patent infringement violations, which is allegedly equivalent to $1.40 per infringing iPhone.

The new information comes from CNET, which has been covering the Qualcomm vs. Apple patent trial that's in court this week.


$1.40 per iPhone and a total of $31 million in damages suggests that Qualcomm believes only 22 million iPhones are infringing on its technology. Qualcomm came up with that total with the help of economist Patrick Kennedy, who took the stand as an expert witness for Qualcomm today. Kennedy calculated the figure based on iPhones sold from July 2017 on that used chips by Intel. Apple started using a mix of chips from both Intel and Qualcomm in the iPhone 7, and later transitioned to all Intel chips due to the legal troubles with Qualcomm.

Qualcomm and Apple are fighting over three patents that Qualcomm says Apple infringed on with its iPhones. As CNET describes, one of the patents covers a method for allowing a smartphone to quickly connect to the internet once turned on, while another covers graphics processing and battery life. The third patent Apple is accused of violating allows apps to download data more easily by directing traffic between the apps processor and modem.

Apple just last quarter earned more than $20 billion in profit, so $31 million in damages wouldn't be a hit to the company's bottom line. If Qualcomm wins the trial, though, its claim that its technology is at the "heart of every iPhone" would be more credible.

Apple and Qualcomm have been fighting since January 2017, when Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion in unpaid royalty fees. Qualcomm countersued, and since then, the two companies have levied multiple lawsuits against one another. Two of Qualcomm's lawsuits have resulted in import bans in Germany and China, both of which Apple was able to skirt with hardware and software updates.

The current patent trial between Apple and Qualcomm will last through next week.


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Samsung Set to Buy Camera Company That Sued Apple for Patent Infringement

Samsung is close to completing a deal that will see it purchasing Israeli smartphone camera company Corephotonics for $150 million, reports Israeli news site Globes (via Android Authority).

The Corephotonics name may sound familiar to those who follow iPhone news because in 2017, Corephotonics levied a lawsuit against Apple accusing the Cupertino company of infringing on several Corephotonics camera patents with the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 8 Plus.


The patents in question relate to dual-lens camera technologies such as optical zoom and mini telephoto lens assembly techniques. The iPhone 7 Plus and the iPhone 8 Plus both use a dual-lens camera setup with 2x optical zoom and a wide-angle lens paired with a telephoto lens.

Dual-lens camera technology was first introduced with the iPhone 7 Plus in 2016 and it has subsequently been used in the iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max. Corephotonics' original lawsuit covered just the 7 Plus and 8 Plus, but in 2018, the company filed a new patent infringement lawsuit that also covers the iPhone X.

According to Corephotonics, Apple's iPhones with dual-lens cameras use patented telephoto lens designs, optical zoom techniques, and a method for fusing images from the wide-angle and telephoto lenses to create a better quality photograph.

When the lawsuit was filed, Corephotonics said that it contacted Apple, but after "positive feedback" and "encouraging reports," the two companies were unable to reach a licensing agreement. Corephotonics accused Apple of releasing the iPhone 7 Plus anyway, complete with infringing technology.

The legal matter between Corephotonics and Apple has yet to be resolved, so Samsung could inherit the dispute should it move forward with the Corephotonics purchase. Apple and Samsung in June 2018 reached a settlement for a design infringement lawsuit that spanned seven years.

Corephotonics developed the 5x optical zoom camera demonstrated by in an Oppo smartphone prototype in 2017, and it has detailed work [PDF] on a triple-lens camera setup that could allow for 5x optical zoom and a 25x total zoom feature that lets in 5x more light than traditional setups. Should Samsung purchase Corephotonics, these technologies could make their way to future Samsung devices.


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Apple Must Pay VirnetX $440 Million for Patent Infringement, Appeals Court Rules

Apple must pay VirnetX $440 million after an appeals court upheld an earlier judgement in favor of the patent holding company, reports Reuters.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit today denied Apple's appeal of a 2016 verdict that awarded VirnetX $302 million, which increased to $439.7 million when taking into account damages and interest calculated during retrials.


VirnetX first sued Apple in 2010, accusing FaceTime of infringing on patents held by VirnetX. The two companies have been fighting in court since then, and Apple in 2017 said it would appeal the final $440 million judgement.

In a separate case that is also still unsettled, VirnetX was awarded an additional $502.6 million from Apple after a court found that Apple's FaceTime, iMessage, and VPN on Demand features infringe on four VirnetX patents related to communications security.

Apple in total owes VirnetX $942 million, but is likely to continue to fight both rulings, as the patents in question have been ruled invalid by a separate court. Apple said it is disappointed with the ruling and will once again appeal.


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