Apple’s Passbook, a new feature of the company’s iOS 6 mobile operating system, is the subject of a lawsuit filed last week by software firm Ameranth, Inc. Ameranth, which creates and licenses custom software for the hospitality and gambling industries, claims that Passbook violates four of its patents related to the creation and synchronization of “ticketing, reservations, and other hospitality functions” and the “generation and transmitting” of menus among wired, wireless and Web-based systems.
Ameranth’s asserted patents fall under the “Information Management and Synchronous Communications” group of patents, which the company describes in its court filing as “widely recognized as visionary.”
Those patents include:
No. 6,384,850: “Information management and synchronous communications system with menu generation.”
No. 6,871,325: “Information management and synchronous communications system with menu generation.”
No. 6,982,733: “Information management and synchronous communications system with menu generation, and handwriting and voice modification of orders.”
No. 8,146,077: “Information management and synchronous communications system with menu generation, and handwriting and voice modification of orders”
The patent family, which has its genesis in the late 1990s, was initially intended to support wireless point-of-sale order, gift card, and menu processing for hotels, casinos, nightclubs, cruise ships, and other “entertainment venues,” but it is broadly worded to encompass systems in general that synchronize menus, orders, and event ticketing.
Many companies do license Ameranth’s patents, and the firm has been engaged in recent litigation against others which it feels infringe upon its intellectual property rights, including Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Pizza Hut, and Hotels.com.
While Apple may choose to defend itself on the merits, the company cannot claim to be ignorant of Ameranth’s intellectual property. Ameranth’s primary patent, 6,384,850, was cited as prior art in two Apple patent applications covering the iPhone.
Ameranth claims that Apple's infringement of its patents was willful and has therefore requested treble damages for Apple's allegedly infringing conduct.
Teaser graphic made with help from Shutterstock.
[via Patently Apple]