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Results tagged “Apple” from California Patent Attorney® Blog

Apple's Latest Patent Allows for Voicemail Screening

March 18, 2014,

iphone.jpgCalifornia - Apple was recently assigned a patent, numbered 8,666,034 , which will allow users to listen to a message as it is being left by a caller and then pick up mid-message, if desired. In a time known as "the age of texting" where voicemail is increasingly viewed as outdated, Apple is attempting to modernize this older phone feature by adding it to its next lineup of mobile phones. As many of us recall, with land-line based voice mail machines, one could let an incoming call go to voicemail, listen to the caller leave a message, and depending how important the call was, pick up during the message.

Apple's new patent will allow iPhone users to do exactly this, enabling remote voice message systems to relay the information instantaneously to users. Apple customers will still have the option to have an incoming call sent directly to voicemail, without screening it, but several commentators have already pointed out the irony of Apple's attempt to update voicemail by adding a technology that is widely considered a thing of the past.

Officially termed "Audio call screening for hosted voicemail systems", the patent comes as part of a huge collection of intellectual property originally held by Nortel Networks, until the struggling telecom firm struck a deal with its rivals. Back in 2012, Apple was part of a group of big name tech companies (including Microsoft, Research in Motion, Sony, and Ericsson), dubbed the Rockstar Consortium, that closed a deal to buy Nortel's $4.5 billion patent portfolio. Part of the spoils Apple enjoyed as part of the acquisition, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) officially recorded the assignment of the voicemail screening patent to reflect Apple, Inc. as its owner earlier this month.

Currently, iPhones allow users to see their voicemails in list form through "visual voicemail," a technology that was added by Apple in 2011 and which was the subject of the much talked about U.S. Patent Number 7,996,792. With visual voicemail, users do not have to call a voicemail line to access voicemails by audio, but can simply press play on the touch screen display to hear a message. With the new addition of the technology set forth in the '034 patent, visual voicemail will be taken one step further as a message will play automatically in real time as it is being left, giving users the option to answer right then, rather than having to wait until the voicemail is complete to listen to it and then return the call.

Apple Unable to Secure Permanent Injunction on Samsung Devices

January 3, 2013,

apple-store.jpgCalifornia - A California federal judge rejected Apple's request for a United States sales ban on a number of smartphones made by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. that were found to infringe Apple's patents and trade dress.

Just before the holidays U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh said Apple was unable to establish that the patented features in question are features that drive sales of the iPhone, thus Apple was unable to prove the company would suffer irreparable harm because of Samsung's sale of the infringing products.

Apple requested the injunction, which would have removed 26 of Samsung's current and future products from store shelves during the heart of the holiday season, after a California jury ruled in August that Samsung had infringed six utility and design patents which Apple owns.

Apple wanted the injunction in order to force Samsung to overhaul its product lines and to give Apple a piece of the popular Galaxy S II's sales, which would have made the injunction more valuable to Apple than the $1.05 billion it was awarded by the San Francisco jury.

Apple argued that the patents Samsung is infringing cover features of the iPhone design, including its black color, metal edges, reinforced glass and glossiness, which it argued are important to consumers when purchasing a smartphone. However, Judge Koh said the entire design of the phone, not the isolated characteristics Apple pointed out, is what is protected by its patent.

Judge Koh also said it is unclear how much a consumer considers design when making a smartphone purchase. Even if it was clear that design played a large part in a consumer's decision-making, Apple did not provide evidence that the specific design features Samsung was found to have infringed actually influence a consumer's decision to purchase a specific smartphone.

"Apple makes no attempt to prove that any more specific element of the iPhone's design, let alone one covered by one of Apple's design patents, actually drives consumer demand," Judge Koh said.

In addition to denying Apple's bid for a permanent injunction, Judge Koh also denied Samsung's request for a new trial.

Samsung claimed that juror Velvin Hogan withheld information during the voir dire process regarding his involvement in litigation with Seagate Technology PLC, a company Samsung recently invested in. Judge Koh dismissed the request saying Samsung waived its arguments during the voir dire process.

Both Apple and Samsung Argue That $1.05 Billion Patent Infringement Verdict is Unfair

December 11, 2012,

ipad-iphone.jpgCalifornia - After a $1.05 billion verdict was found in favor of Apple in August, both Samsung and Apple are back in court arguing that the ruling is unfair.

The arguments regarding several post-trial motions filed since the August verdict will be heard by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in the Northern District Court in San Francisco.
Samsung claims that the $1.05 billion verdict goes too far and is asking for a reduction in the verdict or for the verdict to be overturned all together. On the other hand, Apple wants $535 million more in enhanced damages, based on the jury's finding that Samsung willfully infringed Apple's patents.

Samsung claims that Apple has not shown it suffered any damages the jury did not account for and so it is not entitled to enhanced damages.

Beyond that argument, Samsung claims that a reasonable jury would not have found that it infringed Apple's patents and that the jury's findings and damage calculations are faulty and inconsistent, thus Apple is not entitled to the $1.05 billion in damages the jury awarded.

Samsung also claims that the jury foreman, Velvin Hogan, was biased against the company. Samsung bases this claim on the fact that Hogan sued Seagate Technology in 1993, a company Samsung recently invested in. Based on this alleged bias, Samsung is asking for a new trial due to jury misconduct.

Samsung also claims that the judge's constraints on jury time, exhibits, and witnesses prevented it from making a full and fair case against Apple's claims. Apple counters that Samsung's jury misconduct claim is based on speculation and it has not given sufficient cause to require a new trial.

In addition to greater monetary damages, Apple is asking for a permanent injunction on Samsung's allegedly infringing smartphones and tablets. It wants the injunction to ban all technology that is "not more than colorably different," which could ban Samsung products that had nothing to do with the trial.

Samsung claims that the injunction Apple wants is vague and overbroad, which could hinder competition and limit consumer choice. Samsung also claims that Apple has not shown it will suffer irreparable harm or that monetary remedies are not sufficient.
Samsung's argument also pointed out Apple's recent settlement with HTC Corp., which concerned some of the same patents at issue in the Samsung case, as confirmation that Apple's competitors can sell products containing Apple's patents through licensing without damaging the company.

Regardless of Koh's ruling on the case and the decisions on appeals that are sure to follow, Apple and Samsung's legal battles are far from over. The companies will be back in Judge Koh's courtroom in 2014 battling over patent infringement in newer smartphones and tablets.

Apple v. HTC Patent Infringement Battle Finally Over

November 12, 2012,

cell phone closeup-offset.jpgCalifornia - After a daunting thirty-two month patent infringement lawsuit between Apple Inc. and HTC, the two tech giants announced a confidential 10-year licensing agreement that will cover both current and future patents held by both companies. The companies also dismissed all pending lawsuits against each other.

The patent infringement dispute arose in March 2010 when Apple filed a complaint against HTC for infringing ten patents related to user interface design. The International Trade Commission determined that HTC was indeed in violation of one patent, which caused a delay in launch dates of the HTC One X and other products due to an import ban.

HTC is not the only Android hardware manufacturer that Apple is embroiled with in messy patent battles. The late CEO Steve Jobs had declared a "thermonuclear war" against the Android operating system, which he called a "stolen product." The company has gone toe to toe with both Samsung and Motorola over claims of patent infringement involving hardware design, core operating system functionalities, and elements of user interface.

The outcome of these current patent battles could affect the design and functionality of smartphones as well as their cost and availability when licensing fees and ITC bans take place.

"HTC is pleased to have resolved its dispute with Apple, so HTC can focus on innovation instead of litigation," said Peter Chou, Chief Executive Officer of the Taiwan-based HTC.

Tim Cook, who replaced Jobs as the CEO of Apple, made a similar statement indicating that the company intends on staying "laser focused on product innovation." Unlike Jobs' war mantra of dragging these claims out in court for years and years, Cook has taken a less hostile approach. He appears to be more willing to work out deals with the Android makers to avoid the courts. The company struck a deal with handset-maker Nokia, which included money from Apple.

Regardless of Cook's diplomatic approach to the patent wars, Apple failed to strike a settlement agreement with Samsung earlier this year. Apple won the case in court with the jury awarding it $1 billion in damages, a decision which Samsung says it will appeal.