Apple Loses Delaware Patent Lawsuit With MobileMedia

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Apple lost a patent infringement lawsuit today in Delaware after a federal jury found that the iPhone had misused patents belonging to a “patent portfolio licensor.”

MobileMedia Ideas LLC brought the case against the iPhone maker in 2010, claiming that 14 patents had been violated. This initial complaint was later narrowed down to three patents relating to camera phones and the way calls are handled or rejected.

After a weeklong trial, the jurors in Wilmington, Delaware deliberated for approximately four hours before finding that the patents in question are valid and that Apple´s iPhone had, in fact, violated them.

Though Apple has been found guilty of patent infringement, no damages have yet been awarded.

In an interview given shortly after the verdict was handed down, MobileMedia CEO Larry Horn said that his company was “very pleased” with the way the trial played out and believed that the decision was “justified.”

According to the court filings, Apple had asked Judge Sue Robinson to rule that MobileMedia Idea´s patents were invalid, which would have made the company unable to argue that Apple had infringed on them.

On their website, MobileMedia Ideas LLC describes their company as a “patent portfolio licensor of inventions adopted by manufacturers of smart phones, mobile phones and other portable devices including personal computers, laptops, netbooks, personal media players, e-book readers, cameras and hand-held game consoles.”

All told, MobileMedia holds more than 300 patents related to a wide variety of consumer electronics products. The company is jointly owned by MPEG LA, Nokia and Sony.

“Our goal is really to license these patents broadly to the market,” explained Horn in a statement to Reuters.

In the original filing, MobileMedia Ideas claimed that Apple violated a patent which Sony filed for in 1999. This patent involved the way that a screen reacts to its physical orientation. The court filing was later changed to cover the camera phone and call handling patents.

In their complaint, MobileMedia Ideas claimed they would suffer “irreparable injury” if Apple continued to violate the patents in question without paying the company license fees. Horn defended his business, saying that MobileMedia was “not in the litigation business” and stating that they only want to license out these patents to other electronics companies.

Meanwhile, Apple is also continuing their legal battles against Samsung in the U.S.

A California court ruled in favor of Apple this summer, handing down a $1.05 billion verdict against Samsung. Now, Samsung is claiming that there may have been a case of jury misconduct in the trial and as such is seeking to have this payout dramatically reduced and the ruling thrown out. The two companies met in a Northern California court room once more last week as Apple fought to have bans placed against Samsung products.

Judge Koh has not been shy about her feelings towards this case and at one point even asked the lawyers if they were smoking crack.

During the December 6 court date, Judge Koh begged for peace, saying: “If there is any way this court can facilitate some sort of resolution, I´d like to do that.”

“I think it would be good for consumers and good for the industry.”