Apple being targeted for a new patent lawsuit

California-based NetAirus Technologies LLC is pursuing a patent infringement case against Apple and its iPhone.

The Loop reports that the company filed with the US District Court of California’s Western Division last Friday, contending that Apple’s popular iPhone device infringes on one of their patents concerning a "small light weight modular microcomputer based computer and communications systems, designed for both portability and desktop uses”.

The patent in question was granted to NetAirus on September 5, 2006 and seems to cover the broad concept of a “Wireless Handset Communication System” that almost any modern smartphone would infringe upon. NetAirus is claiming patent infringement for all iPhone models and is seeking payment for damages and a manufacturing suspension. 

The patent states:

A small light weight modular microcomputer based computer and communications systems, designed for both portability and desktop uses. The systems make use of a relative large flat panel display device assembly (2), an expandable hinge device (10), battery power source (9), keyboard assembly (16), and wireless communications devices (32, 51). The systems are capable of bi-directional realtime communications of voice, audio, text, graphics and video data. Both wire-based or wireless communications methods and devices are implemented. Wireless communications devices may include one or more telephone-like handsets (14) and/or earset (34). The wireless communication devices may include one or more antennae (32). Systems can be configured in a portable arrangement similar to conventional notebook computers, but can be quickly and easily disassembled and re-assembled for office desktop uses. Systems may consist of a base computer unit (100) comprising wireless communication devices may act as a relay station relaying voice and other data between the handset or earset and external wide area communications networks. The system may be capable of performing, personal digital assistant (PDA), cellular telephone, conventional notebook computer, desktop computer functions.

Photo credit flickr

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

CNN and FBI think Google Earth is in real-time

Next Story

Bill Gates, "Microsoft has a lot of different tablet projects that we're pursuing"

68 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

This lawsuit has no basis in my opinion. The patent seems extremely vague, the iphone doesn't have all the features mentioned in the patent and the technology has become so widely used now that i would be inclined to say these people missed the boat, why make a fuss now? The iphone is not new by any means.

Chester0 said,

Hm... I think the internet should rule the world

But instead of Republicans and Democrats arguing constantly and getting nothing done, we'd have Apple and Windows users.

(Ralph Nader can be Ubuntu XD)

Edited by smartin0115, May 5 2010, 2:09am :

I wonder if it's possible to patent "To walk or to move across the universe or its current surroundings".

someone on another site pointed out something. didn't the rumors for the iphone start in 2006? seems like this patient may have been made for the same reasons people register 100s of domain names a year. They hope to hit one that someone really wants and will pay thousands for. Also I am pretty sure that is an illegal practice now.

Twisp said,
I love how stupid and ****ed up the patent system in the US is.

i wonder if the idea of a patent system where its possible to patent ideas and theories is patented.

mollick2 said,

i wonder if the idea of a patent system where its possible to patent ideas and theories is patented.

the patent office holds that patent. that is why you have to pay them to process your patent ><

mollick2 said,

i wonder if the idea of a patent system where its possible to patent ideas and theories is patented.

There is now! best 150 pounds I ever spent.

Edited by Ad Man Gamer, May 4 2010, 8:25pm :

rtk said,
@SputnikGamer: you're assuming the other players haven't already paid.

I am also assuming that the big players know better than to pay because of a patient that should have never been allowed.

Holy crap. Are people that stupid? This patent has no chance at holding up because every smart phone maker in the world would come together to fight it. This one company can't possibly think its going to win again HTC, Apple and all the other big players. They can't afford the lawyers to fight the army they would face.

Do patents even work these days? Seems like they cause more trouble than good. Like why doesn't this company with the patent from 2006 even have a product? Whatever happened to the lawsuits between Apple and HTC? Sorry, I'm just full of questions today...

crazyfish said,
Do patents even work these days? Seems like they cause more trouble than good. Like why doesn't this company with the patent from 2006 even have a product? Whatever happened to the lawsuits between Apple and HTC? Sorry, I'm just full of questions today...

Most of the patents get sold off to companies that will use them. The problem with this particular patent is that is describes almost every phone on the market today. It would be like Microsoft or Apple getting a patient for a device that sits on a desktop and runs and OS. The patent system has become a joke which this one clearly points out.

Edited by SputnikGamer, May 4 2010, 6:16pm :

DaveGreen said,
AT LAST!

As usual, you are commenting without bothering to actually read. This suit has no merit at all because the patent describes many things, but it clearly has no relation to the iPhone.

Wow, that's ridiculous. Why did we give them that patent exactly? There are several things that don't line up here:
1. the iPhone doesn't have any hinges
2. A keyboard assembly does not exist (assuming virtual doesn't count)
3. The iPhone is definitely not a desktop computer or a notebook type device

If anything, the device described sounds almost more like some kind of a netbook/tablet combo with phone capabilities. I guess this means that Samsung, Motorola, Nokia, HTC, etc are all next!

one more example of why US patent/copyright laws are in desperate need of reform, not so much the rest of the world's.
not an apple fan either.

Not that I would normally defend the apple, but this is a frivilous lawsuit honestly, the vaugness and lack of other parties (i.e. HTC, RIM etc,) pretty much showst they are simply looking for an "out of court" settlement blah blah blah. What products has NetAirus brought to market? In waht way has Apple worke with or had the ability to steal from them? Man, how did I end up defending apple?!? ugh

The systems make use of a relative large flat panel display device assembly (2), an expandable hinge device (10), battery power source (9), keyboard assembly (16), and wireless communications devices (32, 51).

huh..... the iPhone doesn't do half that and doesnt have a large flat panel display either.... the iPad barely has a large one.....

Well, as long as they try it in texas where the "pay me for a verdict" judge resides, they'll get a verdict or apple will be scared into a settlement before it happens. It is a known fact to many people in that area that even before the big verdicts recently, that judge was known to be very corrupt and able to be "$wayed".

While I'm not advocating this or saying its the right thing for NetAirus to do, its definitely probable due to the verdicts that have recently came from there.

I hate how patents are just making it harder to do anything, but since apple seems to do the same thing to other companies, its just deserved. Still think this is a ridonkeylus lawsuit/patent.

Well, there is no hinge device or keyboard assembly on the iPhone. Frivolous law suit. Stupid patent system. I wonder if we are ever going to see any real patent reform.

While I do agree that Apple deserves to be on the receiving side of a few lawsuits, I got a feeling this case will be shot down in court. There are plenty of smartphones/PDAs made prior to 2006 that match that description, thus prior art.

The iPhone does not have 'an expandable hinge device', 'keyboard assembly', or 'wire-based ... communications methods'. A customer may also not 'configure a portable arrangement similar to conventional notebook computers' or 'be quickly and easily disassembled and re-assembled for office desktop uses'. I'm not sure how well this patent actually described the iPhone.

The patent isn't stupid. The people who accredited it are the real stupid ****ers! How vague & general can you be?

This is pathetic, I am not an Apple fan or customer other than buying my wife an iPhone... but I hope Apple crushes this company. In fact, it would be an amazing show of support to see other companies stand behind Apple as they fight this BS patent. Unlikely, but if Apple loses then the rest don't stand a chance.

What if NetAirus wins? Will we suddenly lose smartphones (iPhone, Blackberry, Android, WinMo) or will the cost of such devices make them unobtainable?

zeke009 said,
This is pathetic, I am not an Apple fan or customer other than buying my wife an iPhone... but I hope Apple crushes this company. In fact, it would be an amazing show of support to see other companies stand behind Apple as they fight this BS patent. Unlikely, but if Apple loses then the rest don't stand a chance.

True dat... But they cant be that stupid now .. right?

That patent describes a lot of different devices. One that it does NOT describe, however, is the iPhone. Almost nothing in that patent relates to the iPhone or even the iPad.

tried to edit, but didn't make it in time: Also, in my opinion, a patent holder should be required 1. to go after an infringing company within a very short period of time after the infringing device is released (months, not years) and 2. go after ALL companies who they feel infringe on their patent (not picking and choosing the one most likely to be a jackpot award). Failure to do both would automatically invalidate their patent

roadwarrior said,
tried to edit, but didn't make it in time: Also, in my opinion, a patent holder should be required 1. to go after an infringing company within a very short period of time after the infringing device is released (months, not years) and 2. go after ALL companies who they feel infringe on their patent (not picking and choosing the one most likely to be a jackpot award). Failure to do both would automatically invalidate their patent

I think instead of all that, to have a patent valid for anyone who claimed it, must show some sort of working prototype of their patent, so we can tell they are actually trying to do something with it, instead of just sitting on a "cash cow" and hoping others milk it. Most people who have patents don't even bother trying to create such item, they just hold the intellectual property construction of said item.

Edited by shakey, May 4 2010, 4:57pm :

shakey said,

I think instead of all that, to have a patent valid for anyone who claimed it, must show some sort of working prototype of their patent, so we can tell they are actually trying to do something with it,
That's how the patent system USED to work.

b10h4z4rd said,
That sounds kind of vague, but how does it do notebook and desktop computer functions? We really need a patent overhaul.

Ok. Then outline what is wrong with the present system, or are you a parrot that says something he has heard from someone else.

Silly Statement without any backup.

They got the patent in 2006? Prior art? How about all of the smart phones that came before the iPhone? Doesn't the majority of people here think the iPhone is not a smart phone anyway?

Surely that patent could apply to anything? Unless I have read it wrong. Either way, yay take The Beast (Beast:Apple) down!

Singh400 said,
Surely that patent could apply to anything? Unless I have read it wrong. Either way, yay take The Beast (Beast:Apple) down!

what kind of patent is this! all smart phones got this patent...

Sebianoti said,

so you read all that in under a minute? or wanted to be the first to comment?

It takes longer then a minute to read that?!?!

Sebianoti said,

so you read all that in under a minute? or wanted to be the first to comment?

I read it in about 30-45 seconds.

Sebianoti said,
Not possible, unless you only read the title and the top bit

I copied and pasted in MS Word, used the auto summarize feature to slim it down to 4-5 sentences, and then had it read to me on triple speed.

Sebianoti said,

so you read all that in under a minute? or wanted to be the first to comment?

Oh no the reply police!