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Apple Gets Partial Fed. Circ. Win In Sony-Nokia Patent Case

March 19th, 2015 Alexander No comments

The Federal Circuit recently cleared Apple Inc. of infringing three smartphone patents held by a company formed by Sony Corp. of America and Nokia Corp., but sent the case back to the district court for further proceedings on another patent.

In a complex, mixed ruling, the appeals court sided with Apple on some issues, while agreeing on other issues with plaintiff MobileMedia Ideas LLC, a patent licensing firm formed by Sony, Nokia and MPEG LA LLC.

MobileMedia accused Apple’s iPhone of infringing four patents related to camera phone and phone call technology. The Federal Circuit reversed both of the district court’s findings that Apple infringed and affirmed that the third patent was invalid. However, it agreed with MobileMedia that the district court’s noninfringement finding on the fourth patent was based on an incorrect claim construction and vacated that ruling.

The Federal Circuit said that the district court wrongly found infringement of two patents. The two patents are U.S. Patent Numbers 6,427,078, which covers a notebook computer that includes a camera unit, and 6,070,068, which covers the display of call handling options like “hold” and “disconnect” on a mobile phone display.

With regard to the ’078 camera phone patent, the appeals court said that because the iPhone’s camera module has no internal memory for storing data, it does not infringe the patent, which describes a “means for processing and for storing” information.

“Although MobileMedia contends that the ‘main memory of the iPhone’ is the camera unit’s means for storing, this ‘main memory’ is not located within the iPhone camera module, which is what [the patent] requires,” the Federal Circuit wrote. “Therefore, we reverse the district court’s judgment that Apple infringes.”

With regard to the ’068 call handling patent, the appeals court held that it was invalid as obvious and reversed the finding that Apple infringed.

The two patents that the district court found Apple did not infringe are U.S. Patent Numbers 6,253,075, which covers a way of rejecting an incoming call when the user is already on a call, and RE 39,231, which covers a way of permitting a user to stop a ringtone for an incoming call without notifying the caller.

The Federal Circuit held that the lower court correctly found that the ’075 call rejection patent was obvious. However, it found that the judge misconstrued the claims of the ’231 ringtone patent.

For more information, see Law360.



The future of IP in the land of Piracy

July 9th, 2010 Alexander No comments

Shifting gears from news of China’s domestic growth, I would like to comment about another trend in the Greater China region: The rise of IP in the land of piracy.

Ownership of patents demonstrates the might of corporations and symbolizes the extension of national power. Yesterday, Chi Mei Innolux launched simultaneous lawsuits against Sony in China and the U.S.

Chi Mei Innolux and Sony’s patent lawsuits against each started when Sony first launched their attack against Chi Mei earlier this year. Chi Mei was unwilling to take a passive stance and counterattacked Sony. Anyone knowledgeable about patent infringement knows that Chi Mei’s tactic forces Sony to settle for a cross-licensing result.

The lawsuit signifies the OEM LCD panel industry’s evolution from simple assemblers to establishments of IP.  Recently, LG Display (LGD) of Korea sued AUO of Taiwan for patent infringement. AUO counter sued LGD and prevailed against LGD.  This precedential victory vindicates Taiwan’s OEM LCD panel industry from its historically lax attitude towards IP.

I have been in the IP business long enough to warn those who still believe IP is meaningless in Asia or that Asian corporations do not care about IP that things are rapidly changing.  The rise of IP in Asia, as I have personal experienced, and increasing numbers of Asian companies seeking IP protection will play a huge part in the redistribution of global economic power.