Uniloc Hits Apple’s Messages with Patent Lawsuit

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Apple's iMessage got attention beyond just the company's annual Worldwide Developer Conference this week because Uniloc filed a patent lawsuit alleging the platform infringes on four of its VoIP-related patents. The case was filed in Eastern Texas District Court, which seems appropriate since the court is a favorite for patent trolls.

Uniloc says Apple's iMessage technology infringes on its patentsUniloc says Apple's iMessage technology infringes on its patents

The lawsuit claimed patents 7,535,890, 8,995,433, 8,724,622 and 8,243,723 cover the voice recording and transmission feature in Messages, and that Apple isn't licensing the technology. Uniloc is asking the court for the usual unspecified damages, legal expense reimbursement, and other relief.

If you aren't familiar with Uniloc, that probably means you have better things to do with your time that keep up with serial patent trolls. But since we're all here, how about a quick rundown:

Uniloc is a patent holding company with a long list of deep pocket infringement cases against companies such as Activision, Microsoft, Rackspace, Symantec, and Sony. It also has a portfolio of demo-to-buy apps that were bundled with new PCs. The company was founded after Ric Richardson created and patented a copy protection technology in 1992.

The company ran afoul of the Android community earlier this month when one developer took to the Web to say he was being sued for uploading an app to the Google Play store. According to that lawsuit, Uniloc owns the idea of the Google Play store, and as such developers need to pay up. The defendant in the case, Austin Meyer, posted a video on YouTube talking about the multi-year lawsuit and the many developers Uniloc is targeting.

The company's website is devoid of any information with only a logo and login button, so don't expect to learn more about their products or patents there.

Regardless of whether or not Uniloc's VoIP patents are valid, or if it actually owns the idea of the Google Play store, the company's legal practices feel very patent troll-like. The company files its lawsuits in the patent troll-friendly Federal court in eastern Texas, it target long lists of companies with its lawsuits, and also targets groups of smaller developers who likely don't have the resources to defend themselves.

If that sounds familiar, its because App Store developers faced a similar tactic a few years ago when Lodsys targeted several with infringement lawsuits over in-app purchases.

For smaller companies, these patent infringement lawsuits are akin to extortion, and for larger companies its often easier and cheaper to settle out of court regardless of the patent's validity. Considering Apple's stance on dealing with companies it considers to be patent trolls, however, Uniloc should expect this fight to be long and expensive.

Apple revealed earlier this week that Messages is its most used app, and has loads of new features coming when iOS 10 and macOS Sierra ship later this year. This is a product Apple will likely defend with the fill force of its legal team—and if the patent troll-friendly Texas court rules in Uniloc's favor, get ready for a long and expensive string of appeals.

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Probably alone here - except for the many countries including Swiss and Netherlands and the many other patent-free zones. I think “patent troll” should be banned here - it’s one of those whiney whines that nobody feels sorry for as one of the richest co.s in the world Apple holds gazillions of patents yet never invented a damn thing technically and design-wise treads (sometimes) into “can you patent a generic shape that so happens to be thin with a bevel?” I dunno, was the Oreo patented before Hydrox? It’s why I differ with Mr. Martellaro once in a while - when he gets up on the Apple is great - everybody else is a joke bit - it brings the Mac community down, all that nanny nanny nanny IMO. Then there’s the greed that this world suffers from and the part patents do to enforce the racket “They” will say - well if there were no patents, where is the incentive to INVENT??? i say how do you NOT improve life?? Write a song, a book, invent a quantum computer - it’s all the same - ask Elon, he does it AND he doesn’t collect patents greedily like some Depression Era grown-up spendthrift. Rewards are many besides the almighty dollar. Besides, you WILL get paid for what you produced.  While I’m hot: What is Apple doing with their crazy fortune of billions of dollars? It is obvious today that the world is ready for all sorts of seachange; you have AI and VR and Hyperloops and solar battery farms on Kawai, autonomous cars/trucks/boats. Apple hasn’t changed or grown it’s “portfolio” in seemingly decades while the entire rest of the world passes by them. What will Apple do BESIDES make phones/pods/pads/set top boxes that clearly are OLD NEWS now??? Hopefully the failed watch will be the last of that old-fashioned iPod/Phone/Tab paradigm. Where are the ideas? Where are the GOALS?
Too late for talk about Cars unless they head straight for autonomous or even better: Bit Particle Projection or “Bip”........... How would an Apple car that isn’t even prototyped yet compete with the THIRTY VW electric models that will be out in 11 years? Never mind the Model III and whatever GM is doing in 11 years. Nope, I still say official word will come out soon that Apple is not going to be in the car biz per sé. Make me a $2000 Carbon electric bicycle with built in Nav and all the tech health goodies - I’d be all over that in my mid-waist-crisis,  they’d sell millions and people in the USA would not be so damn fat!!! 
Sorry, last bit from TechDirt re: the craziness of patents.
<< Take the iPhone as an example: it has over 1000 patents; yet Apple does not apply for patent protection in countries like Peru, Ghana, or Ecuador, or, for that matter, in most of the developing world. So entrepreneurs could use these patent filings to gain information to make an iPhone-like device that solves the unique problems of these countries. Apple has so far received 3287 U.S.-issued patents and has 1767 applications pending: a total of 5054 (for all of its products). Yet it has filed for only about 300 patents in China and has been issued 19. In India, it has filed only 38 patent applications and has received four patents. In Mexico it has filed for 109 and received 59 patents. So even India, China, and Mexico are wide-open fields. >>  Hmmmmmm.


“means you have better things to do with your time that keep up with serial patent trolls”

The term ‘patent troll’ normally means a non practicing entity which DID NOT create the relevant IP.

Ric Richardson was concerned for a long time by the high levels of IP theft - (it is said, slightly in jest, that only one original copy of windows made it to the country I was living it at that time wink  so Ric invented and developed the software key that allowed the full functionality to be enabled for software after a trial period.

He took it to microsoft thinking it might help reduce the huge amounts of software theft they were plagued with.

Microsoft promptly stole it.

I think your issue is with Apple, Google and / or the USPTO.

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