Patent lawsuit zooms in on Apple’s iPhone cameras

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The technology supporting the dual-camera function of Apple’s iPhones is at the centre of a patent infringement lawsuit filed yesterday by two individuals.

Yanbin Yu and Zhongxuan Zhang filed their complaint at the US District Court for the Northern District of California on Tuesday, October 9.

Yu and Zhang asserted US patent number 6,611,289 against Apple. The patent, which was applied for in 1999 and granted in 2003, is for “Digital cameras using multiple sensors with multiple lenses”. It covers ways of taking multiple images with multiple camera lenses and sensors.

Apple’s first iPhone was released after the patent was granted, in 2007.

According to the complaint, later iPhone models (7 Plus, 8 Plus, X, XS and XS Max) feature technology which violates the ‘289 patent. The devices have a dual-camera with multiple lenses.

Over the years Apple has “significantly” invested in its camera and imaging technology expertise, Yu and Zhang said, and in 2008, Apple sought patent protection for its multi-sensor camera system.

The patent claims “many of the same features” of the ‘289 patent, Yu and Zhang alleged.

They added that Apple was made aware of their patent in 2011 when an examiner at the US Patent and Trademark Office rejected 11 claims of Apple’s applied-for patent as anticipated in light of their ‘289 patent. Other claims of Apple’s patent were rejected as obvious.

Apple’s amended patent was granted in 2012 (US number 8,115,825).

Yu and Zhang said that Apple knowingly and actively aided and abetted the direct infringement of the ‘289 patent by encouraging consumers and developers to use the infringing iPhones.

As a result of Apple’s “wilful, wanton, deliberate, and egregious” conduct, the court should award triple damages for patent infringement, Yu and Zhang said. The award should be no less than that of a reasonable royalty, the individuals added.

They are also seeking attorneys’ fees and an accounting of all sales resulting from the allegedly infringing products.

Yu and Zhang are not the only ones to target Apple in a patent infringement suit this week.

Software company Uniloc filed a suit at the US District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, on Monday, October 8.

The patent Uniloc asserted against Apple (US number 6,856,616) was registered in 2005 and covers technological improvements to shortcomings in users’ ability to connect to a data network.

A number of Apple’s mobile, tablet, and watches feature technology that infringes the ‘616 patent, according to Uniloc, including the iPhone X, iPad Air, and Apple Watch Series 4.

Uniloc has asked the court to award damages and attorneys’ fees.

Créditos: WIPR