Apple, AT&T Sued Over Video Patents

Apple, AT&T and US Cellular have all been hit with patent infringement lawsuits by Visual Interactive Phone Concepts for using two of its video phone-related patents without proper licensing. The patents in question both describe a “videophone interactive mailbox facility system,” according to Foss Patents, although the devices and services the lawsuits target don’t clearly fit the mailbox part of the description.

VIPC wants some Apple cashVIPC: iPhone is a video mailbox

Patents 5606361 and 572092 were granted in 1997 and 1998, respectively, and describe what Foss Patents called “more of a vision than an invention.” In these cases, the patent holder seems to be targeting the three companies in part because of their ecommerce services.

VIPC alleged that because Apple makes the iPhone, and it supports video capture, that the company is violating its patents. It also claimed that Apple’s iTunes Store and iBookstore infringe because they allow “users to view, download and use applications on their videophones.”

AT&T and US Cellular are being targeted for their services that let customers view TV shows on mobile phones. According to VIPC, the services all three companies offer “act as a mailbox facility system” for video content.

Since Apple’s iPhone was targeted for being a “videophone,” it seems odd that other companies, such as Motorola, HTC and Samsung, weren’t included in the case since they all make smartphones that offer video features, too.

Visual Interactive Phone Concepts filed its lawsuits against the companies in U.S. District Court in Eastern Michigan. Apple has not commented on the case.