Apple’s iPhone Infringes Sony and Nokia Patents

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The US District Court for the District Delaware has found that Apple’s iPhone infringes three patents held by MobileMedia Ideas. The ruling was announced yesterday after a seven-day trial and just a day of deliberation. MobileMedia, on the other hand, is a patent-holding company formed by Sony, Nokia and MPEG LA.

Apple vs. MobileMedia

According to Delaware’s federal jury, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 directly infringed patents issued to Sony and Nokia. The first one, US Patent 6,070,068, was issued to Sony and covers the method for controlling a call’s connecting state.

Meanwhile, US Patent 6,253,075 and 6,427,078 were issued to Nokia. The former covers call rejection, while the latter details about a data processing device. According to a MobileMedia representative:

We’re pleased that the court found infringement on all three patents and we think that it’s justified.

On the other hand, Apple argued that all three patents were invalid, but the jury disagreed.

What Lies Ahead for MobileMedia

Christopher Carani, a shareholder at McAndrews, Held and Malloy law firm, pointed out that the litigation talks about patents that date back to the mid-nineties. Apparently, rights on US patents last 20 years from the date of filing. In relation to this, two of the patents in the case were filed in 1997, while the other one was filed a year after.

What you’ve got here is a patent licensing company squeezing the last juice out of patents that have dates going back to the mid-nineties…. When you have patent infringement there are basically two remedies—damages and injunction.

Carani also believes that MobileMedia stands a chance at being awarded damages, but only for reasonable patent royalties. It is unlikely to happen that the patent-holding company incurred injunction or damages on lost sales because the handsets in question are old. Moreover, MobileMedia doesn’t sell phones so they can’t claim lost sales.

He even added MobileMedia’s possible victory against Apple could help them in the future. It could persuade other companies approached by the patent-holding firm to negotiate a patent license rather than risk a court case.

Having a finding like this will fill the coffers of a company like MobileMedia, and they will continue their campaign. In the past, they’ve gone against RIM and HTC. This is their M.O. (modus operandi).

The dispute between Apple and MobileMedia dated back to March 2010. When MobileMedia first filed the lawsuit, the original complaint included 14 patents. This includes claims against the iPod media player, although some of these complaints were dropped as the case progressed.

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