Cool, cutting-edge, shamelessly stolen. All of these terms have been used to describe the technology featured in Apple’s newest array of iGadgets. While Apple has been busy setting the world on fire with its app-happy phones and touchable tablets, several companies been trying to blunt Apple’s momentum. Much of the groundbreaking technology that made the iPod manufacturer a household name was actually, these companies claim, illegally “appropriated” from their own labs. In fact, there are so many lawsuits against Apple that Wikipedia has an entire page devoted to them.
People are suing Apple for everything from patent infringement to illegal use of copyright, and it’s gotten the Cupertino, CA-based company into such hot water that even the most talented San Diego criminal attorney couldn’t get them out without being burned. Let’s take a look at four Apple lawsuits currently making their way through the courts.
Brandywine Communications wants to cash in voicemail patents. Brandywine Communications Technologies became the latest entry in Apple’s catalogue of ongoing lawsuits when it decided to sue for infringement on two of its patents involving multimedia voicemails. Brandywine claims that Apple illegally used its patented method of incorporating pictures and videos into voicemail messages on the latest generation of iPhones. The company has already sued every other major tech manufacturer for the same crime, including HTC, LG, Samsung and AT&T, but it apparently decided to save Apple for last. At the moment, Apple hasn’t released an official statement regarding t he lawsuit.
Proview of China invented the term “iPad? ” Setting up shop in a foreign country is hard, especially if that country is China. Apple learned that the hard way when Proview Technology filed a suit demanding $1.6 billion and a formal apology from Apple over the use of the “iPad” name earlier this month. According to a Proview spokesman, the Chinese company had registered the iPad name in 2001 and continues to use it on several of its products. “We have to admit that Apple’s iPad is a great product, and Apple creates great value out of that,” said Yang Rongshan, chairman of the Proview branch office in Shenzhen, “but this is not the reason to support their irregular practice here.” He went on to state that negotiations between the two companies haven’t been amicable.
Kodak needs its imaging technology back. Early on in the camera-phone game, Kodak invented a nifty way of transmitting images wirelessly between different digital devices like cameras, phones and printers. The technology was adopted by nearly every cell phone manufacturer on the market, and Kodak appeared to be just fine with that. Until recently. Kodak is now trying to sell off its patent portfolio to pay off a $1 billion debt and has filed suits against Apple, HTC and other phone manufacturers to enhance the patent’s market value. Though Kodak hasn’t put an official price tag on its invention, some experts say Apple could face damages in the hundreds of millions.
Apple v. Samsung v. Apple v. Samsung. Trying to sum up Apple’s ongoing legal conflicts with Samsung using one measly lawsuit as an example wouldn’t be doing justice to the perpetual feud between the two companies. Since last year, the manufacturers of the iPad and the Galaxy Tab have been engaged in a full-blown war over control of the mobile technology market. First, Apple claimed that one of Samsung’s phones “slavishly” copied the iPhone. Then the Japanese tech company fired back with a claim that Apple was breaking antitrust laws by trying to ban all of its competitors from operating in the U.S. Since then, the feud has escalated to international levels, with 19 lawsuits (and counting) being tried all around the world.
Over the past few years, Apple has learned the hard way that being on top of the mountain only means that everyone at the bottom will have something to aim at. Some of the hundreds of lawsuits filed against the iPod manufacturer have been legitimate and some have been nothing more than “patent trolling,” but they’ve all taken their toll on Apple’s coffers.