Patent troll hits Apple with iPhone screen rotation suit

By , Nov 10, 2012

A Boston University study from July pegged the cost of lawsuits filed last year by nonpracticing entities – that’s the code word for patent trolls – at an unbelievable $29 billion. Patents and lawsuits are their ‘products’ and Apple is among their favorite targets. You need look no further than Lodsys or VirnetX, which has expanded claims against Apple after winning $368 million in FaceTime case damages.

You can now add MobileMedia Ideas on your list of Apple patent trolls. Thanks to a Delaware federal judge, its suit against Apple over the iPhone screen rotation and call rejection features can proceed. What’s really peculiar about MobileMedia Ideas, apart from the obvious patent troll innuendo in its name, is that it’s a proxy for Sony and Nokia…

MobileMedia alleges that the screen rotation feature on iOS devices infringes upon its patent No. 6,441,828. the company filed suit against Apple back in July 2010, alleging the iPhone maker violated a total of eighteen patents.

Concerning the screen rotation feature, U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson ruled yesterday that the infringement claim was “suitable for determination by a jury” and said the suit could proceed.

Cnet gives us interesting background info on MobileMedia Ideas:

MobileMedia Ideas is an unusual company: it’s jointly owned by Apple competitors Sony and Nokia, which make smartphones, and a Denver-based company called MPEG LA that licenses patents for the MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 standard.

That innovative, trollish corporate structure gives Sony and Nokia a layer of insulation from countersuits by Apple and other targets MobileMedia might choose.

The patent troll holds a treasure trove of more than 300 patents, mostly originally granted to Sony and Nokia. The screen rotation patent was originally granted to Sony back in 1999, but Apple points to prior art such as patent No. 6,563,535 that covers displaying images right-side-up “regardless of the orientation of the image or the physical orientation” of the device.

Another important distinction: rather than use sensors to detect a change in a device’s orientation like Apple’s solution does, Sony’s invention describes “pressing the rotate button a maximum of three times for one image, the user can rotate the image clockwise”.

That’s a far cry from how iOS devices approach orientation change when a user turns the device upside down. Apple’s implementation, amongst other things, relies on sensors and involves intelligent rearrangement of all user interface elements.

Apple’s massive smartphone patent covers the iPhone screen rotation heuristics in excruciating detail.

It was originally filed in the first quarter of 2007 and credits, among others, Apple’s former iOS boss Scott Forstall, arguably one of the company’s most prolific inventors. Forstall, as you know, got fired two weeks ago in a major executive shakeup.

On a final note, it’s interesting how Sony and Nokia hid behind a proxy in order to avoid getting countersued over a bunch of Apple’s inventions.

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  • nima

    FIRST!!! LOVE YOU IDB< DONT STOP WRITING

  • mbkarki

    Funny, a troll sued by another!!!!

  • JamesR624

    I love how, according to these articles lately, whenever Apple sues someone over a stupid patent, they’re “just protecting their IP” and yet, if anyone else does the exact same thing, they’re a “patent troll”. Totally fair and unbiased articles guys.

    • Blake

      Thats because these companies dont actually have any products. They buy patents and then sue to make money off of them.

      • http://twitter.com/newyorkminute10 NEWYORKMINUTE10

        Did you read the article? The company is owned by three companies, two of them are Sony and Nokia who make phones

      • goofygreek

        nah, people dont read the articles now a days, they just skim through it and look for people to comment on.

      • http://twitter.com/WillyLMFAO Wilder A.

        True, but the company is being a pussy for not suing them their selves, they’re afraid of Apple.

    • http://twitter.com/doubleaa25 Adham

      Apple isn’t considered a “patent troll.” That is because a “patent troll” is one who owns patents, does nothing with them, and just waits until someone uses it and sues them for the money.

      Hence, why Apple isn’t a patent troll. Apple uses their patents and doesn’t sue just for the money, they sue because they believe the companies have infringed on their IP.

      • Kurt

        thats only your definition of a patent troll. there is no real definition. although i do subscribe to that definition. but nonetheless, apple sucks

  • Jams9

    Actually the difference between Apple and patent trolls is that Apple is real company selling real products, where as these patent trolls have no products they are barely an actual company their “products” are the actual patents themselves.

    • goofygreek

      you may want to re-read the article. It clearly points out that this company has sony and nokia behind it.

      • http://twitter.com/WillyLMFAO Wilder A.

        True, but biased, the companies are hiding their asses so they don’t get sued back.

  • http://youtube.com/MathiasVerden Mathias Lindberg

    If they patented screen rotation, then Apple isn’t magically allowed to infrige on that patent.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Childs/1067107105 Matthew Childs

      if the way they achieve screen rotation is different then it isn’t the same patent. your reasoning is like saying somoene getting wet is always the same. if i spit on you, you are wet…if i push you into a pool, you are wet. both are wet but very different means by which you got there. =)

      • Kurt

        hit edit, and then manually hit the rotate button. they might have a claim

  • fanboysDream

    nice~ “bullying a bully” :D haha

    if someone sues Apple, it’s a troll. when apple sues~ nothing.

    Plain as that, LOL what goes around comes around.

    Take that Apple!