Ah, the good ol’ patent minefield.
According to Law360, a paywall-shielded newswire for lawyers, Apple yesterday settled a patent infringement lawsuit with patent troll Minerva Industries, whose website is apparently currently, ahem, ‘temporarily closed under repair’.
This morning, Apple was hit with another patent infringement suit, brought on by Israeli technology holding Emblaze, which alleges the Cupertino company has refused to license its media streaming technology at issue.
Here’s a quick rundown for both cases:
Minerva Industries accused Apple of infringing its patent for mobile media technology, filing suit against the iPhone maker back in January 2008, mere hours after being granted U.S. Patent Number 7,321,783.
The patent covers “a mobile entertainment and communication device in a palm-held size, housing has a cellular or satellite telephone capable of wireless communication with the Internet and one or more replaceable memory card sockets for … recording data directly from the Internet and, in particular, musical performances that then can be selectively reproduced by the device for the enjoyment of the user,” according to the patent’s abstract.
It also describes a camera and microphone that can be used to record images and sound onto a phone.
Last Tuesday, Apple and Minerva filed a joint motion to dismiss all claims and counterclaims, stipulating that each party would bear its own costs and attorneys’ fees. On Wednesday, Magistrate Judge Charles Everingham of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas promptly dismissed the infringement lawsuit with prejudice after receiving the alert.
Minerva Industries had earlier settled lawsuits with HP, Research In Motion, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia, Alltel, Boost Mobile, Qwest Wireless, Sprint Nextel and Verizon Communications. As I said earlier, there’s a patent troll at work here.
Ra’anana, Israel-based Emblaze announced on Thursday that it was suing Apple, alleging that the company had ripped off its media streaming patent and repeatedly refused to license the technology it claims to have invented and pioneered in the late nineties.
Emblaze says it warned Apple in December 2009 that the iPhone maker’s recently announced HTTP live streaming application, used on the iPhone, the iPod touch, Mac OS X and the iPad, would infringe the plaintiff’s patent for streaming technology.
The patent-in-suit, U.S. Patent Number 6,389,473 titled “Network media streaming,” covers “a method for real-time broadcasting from a transmitting computer to one or more client computers over a network”.
Emblaze’s streaming technology makes it possible to send live or prerecorded audio and video to other devices without the use of servers dedicated to streaming, the company said. The technology minimizes data traffic and provides “reliable” streaming through firewalls, it added.