Apple the target of new lawsuit over iOS location services

Hot on the heels of last week’s screen rotation lawsuit comes another infringement claim aimed at Apple. NovelPoint Tracking, which fits the usual patent troll description, filed a lawsuit against the Cupertino company yesterday in the troll-friendly Texas Eastern District Court regarding its location-based patent…

PatentlyApple points to the new lawsuit, which appears to be based on NovelPoint’s ‘485 patent entitled “Method and Apparatus for an Automatic Vehicle Location, Collision Notification, and Synthetic Voice.” Here’s an excerpt from the filing:

“Upon information and belief, based on the information presently available to NPT, absent discovery, and in the alternative to direct infringement, NPT contends that the Defendant has contributed, and continues to contribute, to the infringement by third parties(including its affiliates, agents, and customers) of one or more claims of the Patent-in-Suit under 35 U.S.C. § 271(c) by selling, offering for sale, and/or importing Defendant’s products, knowing that those products constitute a material part of the inventions of the Patent-in-Suit, knowing that those products are especially made or adapted to infringe the Patent-in-Suit, and knowing that those products are not staple articles of commerce suitable for substantial noninfringing use.”

NovelPoint says that the iPhone 4S and other iOS devices infringe on its location-finding patent, and is going after Apple for both its own infringement, and its facilitation of infringement by third party location-based apps and services.

This is actually a pretty big deal, because it means Apple could get hit for damages in several ways. And as we learned last week, patent holding firms aren’t to be taken lightly. VirnetX took the Cupertino company for $368 million earlier this month.

We’ll keep an eye on this situation as it unfolds.