Apple found guilty of infringing 3 patent troll MobileMedia’s ‘inventions’

This just in: Bloomberg tweets that a U.S. court has found Apple’s iPhone to infringe three patents owned by MobileMedia Ideas, owned jointly by Nokia, Sony and Denver-based patent licensing firm MPEG LA. Basically your typical patent troll, MobileMedia commands a treasure trove of 300 patents. Most of their filings were originally granted to Sony and Nokia so the two don’t have to get their hands dirty in direct litigation.

Now, Mobilemedia last month sued Apple over the iPhone call rejection and screen rotation features. It originally filed a complaint in Delaware in 2010 based on 14 patents in total, taking its case to trial after the number of patents was whittled to three: one for the camera phone and others for call handling and call rejection.

The screen rotation invention was originally granted to Sony in 1999, but Apple pointed to prior art such as patent No. 6,563,535 which covers displaying images right-side-up “regardless of the orientation of the image or the physical orientation” of the device…

Bloomberg first reported about this development on their Twitter channel.

The full Bloomberg story offers more in way of detail:

Jurors in Wilmington, Delaware, deliberated about four hours after a weeklong trial before also concluding today that the three patents are not invalid.

The patent troll’s filing claims it would suffer “irreparable injury” if Apple was allowed to use its patents in the iPhone without paying royalties.

Needless to say, MobileMedia CEO Larry Horn is “very pleased” with the outcome and he thinks “it’s justified”.

A trial on damages, which Horn said could be “substantial”, is yet to be scheduled.

From Mobilemedia web site’s About section:

MobileMedia Ideas is the patent portfolio licensor of inventions adopted by manufacturers of smart phones, mobile phones and other portable devices including personal computers, laptops, netbooks, personal media players, e-book readers, cameras and hand-held game consoles.

We own more than 300 patents worldwide that are important to those mobile device companies incorporating in their products innovations such as call handling, speed dial functions, database searches, audio download and playback, and still picture and video processing.

MobileMedia Ideas offers access, clarity and convenience enabling licensees to build predictability into their business models.

It’s entirely conceivable that Sony and Nokia hid behind a proxy in order to avoid getting countersued over a bunch of Apple’s inventions.

At any rate, this could be a major legal setback for the Cupertino firm so you can count on iDV watching how this story unfolds.

The development comes hot on the heels of last week’s news that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office preliminary invalidated Apple’s patent related to the iPhone’s touch screen heuristics, having previously invalidated the famous rubber-band scrolling invention.