Maxell sues Apple again over FaceTime and other iPhone features

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Electronics producer Maxell filed yet another lawsuit against Apple, once again accusing it of infringing 12 patents via FaceTime and the photographic features of the iPhone, iPad and other hardware.

The February 19 filing in the United States District Court for the Waco Division of the Western District of Texas allowed Maxell to take on the familiar role of plaintiff, accusing Apple of patent infringement.

This is far from the first time Maxell has sued Apple, as it attempted to do the same in 2019 and 2020 against the iPhone maker. As with previous lawsuits, Maxell believes that a selection of patents he controls are being abused by Apple, for which he is seeking compensation.

Patents for the final trial include:

  • 10 911 719 – “Communication device for the transmission and reception of digital information to and from another communication device”
  • 10 389 978 – “Communication apparatus for transmitting and receiving digital information to and from another communication apparatus”
  • 8 736 729 – “Electric camera”
  • 6 816 491 – “Multiplexed audio data decoding apparatus and receiving apparatus”
  • 8 098 695 – “Multiplexed audio data decoding apparatus and receiving apparatus”
  • 7 551 209 – “Imaging apparatus and method of controlling white balance”
  • 8 130 284 – “Imaging apparatus and method of controlling white balance”
  • 10 264 456 – “Mobile terminal and method of controlling it”
  • 10 418 069 – “Recording and reproducing apparatus and methods thereof”
  • 7 072 673 – “Combined radio and position tracking system”
  • 10 592 372 – “Apparatus for recording digital information, reproducing apparatus and transmitting apparatus”
  • 6 484 034 – “Combined radio and position tracking system”

Each patent is listed as an individual account in the lawsuit, but follows the pattern of accusing a large number of iPhone and iPad models, as well as the Apple Watch and, in some cases, Macs, of infringement.

Echoing past patents, the top five on the list center their infringement claims on FaceTime’s capabilities, as well as other related perceived issues. The ‘719 and’ 978 patents are also continuation patents of 10,084,991, a patent Maxell used in his 2019 lawsuit against Apple.

White balance patents all follow the capabilities of Apple’s camera software to adjust the white balance of an image. This is a common function of the camera, and is generally necessary to produce an ideal photograph.

The Mobile Terminal patent covers unlocking a mobile device, an argument that has already arisen in a Maxell lawsuit. It’s also a 10,212,586 continuation patent, which Maxell attempted to use against Apple in 2019.

The ‘069 patent refers to the ability for users to use the People album in the Photos app, which uses facial recognition to search for images of people in a user’s photo library. Again, this is a continuation patent, this time patent number 10,176,848. Once again, this earlier patent was used by Maxell, in his lawsuit in 2020.

The two patents “Combined radio and position tracking system” cite the existence of location services as an infringement of the patent. Finally, the 372 patent covers digital rights management systems, a feature of Apple’s content-based stores and services.

The Prayer for Relief is asking the court to declare Apple as an infringer of all patents, as well as compensatory damages with interest and costs “consistent with lost profits and in no way less than a reasonable royalty.” Maxell also wants to triple the prejudgment damages on everything he receives, as well as the usual coverage of his expenses, fees and attorney fees.

The retrial joins a growing list of other lawsuits Maxell has taken against Apple, but has yet to come to fruition. In June 2020, a court agreed to special measures for the 2019 trial to allow Maxell to review Apple’s source code.

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