Apple has recently been found guilty of infringing a ring-silencing feature, owned by a patent-licensing entity called MobileMedia Ideas LLC in a lawsuit, prompting the Cupertino giant to pay $3 million in damages.
Back in 1994, Sony patented a method that allows users to control incoming calls on their mobile phone, where the ringing would be stopped, or be lowered in volume, given that the owner has provided a signal that they have been made aware of the call.
Fast forward to 2010; MobileMedia Ideas, owned by Nokia, Sony and IP rights management firm MPEG LA, filed a lawsuit against Apple, arguing that it infringed Patent No. RE 39,231, together with 15 other patents, which are used on the iPhone. However, in 2012, it was decided that Apple was found infringing only four patents, which include call alerts, call handling, call rejection and the mobile device's camera. And in 2015, Apple applied for an appeal, which struck off three more patents. Eventually, the case was narrowed down to just one patent, which is the ring-silencing feature.
Apple contended that a patent for a telephone ring was too vague, but the federal court of Delaware has decided otherwise. Just yesterday, it was finally decided that Apple indeed crossed the line, and infringed the patent owned by MobileMedia.
Though MobileMedia has been able to win the battle against Apple, the length of the lawsuit cost both parties many times more than $3 million in legal fees. It originally demanded $18 million in damages, but apparently for MobileMedia, a patent win is still a big win, no matter how long it took.