Apple in Patent suit over iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch Functionality

Every few weeks a Patent troll will pop up and go after large technology companies with dubious patent claims in what is generally seen as a cash grab.

This week is no exception. VirnetX has filed a patent infringement suit against several companies, including Apple.

The specific patents that VirnetX claims have been infringed are specifically associated with all of Apple’s mobile devices; iPad, iPhone & iPod Touch, and their implementation of certain network communication protocols.

What is seedy about these cases is that these companies tend to have patents for very broad implementations, and lie in wait until enough big fish have fallen foul of them.

VirnetX even describes itself as “engaged in commercialising its patent portfolio by developing a licensing program.”

Loosely translated : “We are a Patent Troll”.

What is worrying, for Apple, is that the case has been filed in a district of the US state of Texas which is known to be sympathetic to these cases, and Microsoft set a precedent by settling with the company some time ago. VirnetX’s haul there was a cool $200 Million!

Do you think Patent Law is confusing, unfair and open to abuse? Or is it OK that these companies can have a business model based around suing over ideas? Let us know your view on this in the comments…

[AppleInsider]

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Stephen NorthcottApple in Patent suit over iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch Functionality
  • Stockhighroller

    Thanks for the reply; I appreciate the response. I do see your point of not actually producing/dealing with production issues. VirnetX cannot infringe if they do not produce anything, but they can accuse others of infringement.
    But at the same time, these VPN ideas are/were actually innovative and made the establishment of VPN much easier than previously possible. Companies ought to pay up if they intend to use that method in their products. For example, if the iPhone utilizes these patents, Apple should pay for using the idea or find another way to accomplish the same thing. The VirnetX inventors chose to try to sell their patented methods to other companies so they could use it in their products, rather than producing everything themselves. I don’t think that is unfair, but I see how it could be abused.
    FYI, I believe VirnetX does have a product for secure communications in the BETA testing stage if I am not mistaken.

  • Anonymous

    I am biassed against this kind of lawsuit. I admit it. :) My main reason for being so is that these companies by their own admission don’t actually make anything. They simply collate ideas and attempt (quite often successfully) to profit from that portfolio.

    That is a little different from actually innovating things, bringing them to market, and dealing with real world production issues, and *then* defending that concept from competitors. Which is what I think most right-minded people agree that Patent laws were actually designed for.

    It also seems like a fairly pointless existence to me. Unless all you care about is money. And you could kind of draw parallels between that style of business and the actions of companies who steal ideas from people to copy them. By that I mean that both are attempts to profit from other people’s hard work.

  • Anonymous

    iPod Touch is the full name of the iPod. :)

  • Stockhighroller

    Umm, yes I think that companies and individuals have the right to sue if their intellectual property is used illegally….seems obvious. Microsoft would not have settled if the case didn’t have merit, they would have just fought it further in court. Article seems very biased.

  • simba

    The title is wrong, The suit was against networking protocol and not against the touch screen interface.

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