NetAirus Sues Apple Over iPhone Concept

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NetAirus Technologies filed a lawsuit against Apple over claims that the iPhone infringes on a patent it owns. Unlike other patent cases that target specific technologies, the NetAirus lawsuit alleges that entire iPhone concept infringes on its patent.

The patent in question describes a wireless handset communication system, including “A small light weight modular microcomputer based computer and communications systems, designed for both portability and desktop uses.”

The patent also states “The system may be capable of performing, personal digital assistant (PDA), cellular telephone, conventional notebook computer, desktop computer functions.”

The description sounds very similar to the iPhone, as well as smartphone devices from RIM, Palm, HTC, Google and Microsoft. The lawsuit, however, targets the iPhone, iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS.

NetAirus Technologies filed its lawsuit in the Central District of California Western Division. The company is asking for cash damages and for the court to block Apple from manufacturing the iPhone.

[Thanks to The Loop for the heads up.]

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9 Comments Leave Your Own

zewazir

How the heck does one patent a generalized concept? IF so, SF writers need to start patenting all the gizmos they dream up for their future fiction novels.

Plus, the iPhone is not in any way a “microcomputer” and has never been intended to “perform ... desktop computer functions”. (nor notebook computer functions for that matter.)

Combining PDA function with phone functions- isn’t that the entire premise behind the whole smart phone concept? Again, can you even patent a generalized concept? Or did these guys have a more specific (unrealized, undeveloped) design in their patent application, and are trying to claim the description prose covers anything within the scope of their design?

Sounds like another low life trying to cash in on the success of someone else. I am all for protecting IP, especially of the garage workshop inventor. But OTOH, there needs to be better protection of companies against the costs of continual BS patent lawsuits.

woode

Seriously? Where were they when the Palm Treo came out? F**)&(*& patent trolls. But it seems they’re stupid, because the filed in the wrong court, not the notorious east Texas court.

blackgryphon

Are they nuts? I can’t believe that their patent was granted for such a nebulous concept, because patents are designed for the protection of the PROCESS to implement an idea, rather than the idea itself.

MOSiX Man

*Ahem* Tricorder *Ahem*

Point being: The most likely result of this is that Apple will put its weight behind having this patent invalidated, based on the simple fact that (unless the patent was filed in the 1950’s) there is plenty of obvious prior art. Also, there are numerous examples of other similar products, which preceded the iPhen, and against which this ‘company’ never defended its intellectual property.

MOSiX Man

Heh. “iPhen”, Apple’s new loose weight and die plan. Obviously I meant iPhone.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Actually, this is a pretty innovative lawsuit. They aren’t looking to settle with Apple. They aren’t even looking to win. They basically just put their patent up for sale, presumably with Google or HTC in mind as buyer. They did it very inexpensively and you couldn’t ask for better publicity. While their patent might be on surface overbroad, there’s little question that iPhone violates many of the claims in the description.

The economics are simple. If they sell the patent to HTC, they make money. They probably sell it for less to HTC than it will cost Apple to get a court to invalidate it. One of these probably doesn’t hurt Apple too much. Apple clearly has an advantage in number of patents it brings to the table vs. HTC. But 10 or 20 start to take their toll.

It would be damned interesting, in spaces like mobile where big companies routinely bring patent suits against each other, if an informal secondary market of small arms suppliers emerges to balance things out, and eventually, to keep the peace.

geoduck

The patent should be invalidated for both prior art and failure to defend. But further, the mental midget at the PTO who approved this should be fired immediately.

The idea of Patents was to help business by protecting their intellectual property. Now it’s become a leech that companies have to feed. Any troll with a vague idea can get a patent and end up costing a company huge amounts of money even if the company wins.

Insanity.

daemon

I find it interesting that you say this about someone sueing Apple, however if the roles were reversed you would be cheering on Apple.

I personally would really like to see Apple develop it’s own technology rather than steal other company’s inventions [/sarcasm]

vortech

The patent they supposedly have seems to vague, it could mean walkie talkies and CB radios too. To attack Apple with such a vague patent seems stupid, they’ll never win. The iPhone doesn’t have any hinged keyboard, it’s a touch screen keyboard, and it is not a desktop device at all. I hope the judge is competent enough to toss them out on there behinds. Worse case the patent courts should revoke this patent as to vague because it really is to vague. That’s like saying I have a patent for music. You know how many different spaces a sue happy company could go with that. Record companies, artists, TV, radio, stereo makers, portable MP3 makers, concerts, broadway shows…
Anyways you get the picture. I think a patent should only be granted when a company or person actually has a working device that they can then demonstrate and prove what’s behind it. Not all this make believe stuff that people and small companies can go fishing for the companies that actually do real R&D and develop real products and turn around and sue them years later.

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