September 18, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles - Apple and Google are back in court, this time to argue over whether a judge should reopen a case over patented technology featured in their smartphones.   The latest in the blow by blow between the two companies happened last week when Motorola Mobility, Inc., a subsidiary of Google, Inc. filed an appeal that an older case be reopened.   The original lawsuit, filed in 2010, quickly snowballed into a tangle with each company claiming that the other had infringed the other’s patents by including certain technology in their respective smartphones.   Notably, Motorola charged that Apple had infringed one of its most basic essential patents that functions to make the phone power on.

Given the complexity of the original back and forth lawsuits, the cases were consolidated only to be thrown out by famed IP expert Judge Richard Posner.   In his dismissal of the cases, Judge Posner found that neither company had presented sufficient evidence to sustain the claims brought forth.   It is in response to this dismissal that Motorola petitioned that the case be reopened.

In last week’s hearing, the Google-owned Android operator argued that the case should be remanded so that it may have the chance to prove that Apple should pay for use of its patented technology.   The three-judge panel who presided over the hearing focused their questions on whether or not the two companies had tried hard enough to work out a deal between themselves outside of court.

The trio of judges expressed concern that one or both of the companies could be classified as an “unwilling licensee,” referring to a party who does not in good faith attempt to pay to license an invention it has infringed upon.  Counsel for Apple argued vigorously on this point, claiming that Apple was far from being an unwilling licensee and that Motorola had unfairly demanded that Apple pay over 12 times what it had asked to license the subject technology in the past.

Aside from the licensing issues, both sides also presented arguments over each other’s expert witnesses.  Ultimately,  Judge Posner denied one of Apple’s proposed experts and two of Motorola’s.   Now that the hearing for remand has taken place, the Federal Circuit appeals court could take up to a year to decide whether or not the lawsuit will be reopened.   If it is, depending on the specifics of the ruling,  the companies will likely be able to pursue their substantive patent infringement arguments in lower court proceedings.

September 10, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles - After  years of parents calling for Apple to come up with a kid-friendly user profile for its best selling devices such as the iPad and iPhone, it appears that the tech giant has finally given in.   Obtaining patent protection last week for what it describes as, “Method, apparatus and system for access mode control of a device”, Apple seems to be exploring ways for users to limit device access to kids.

The new technology will allow owners to give different levels of access to different users of their devices.   A simple change of settings will make it so that iPad and iPhone users can, for instance, unlock only parent approved kids apps and games.  It is thought that this new addition will finally equip parents with a way to set up user profiles, those for themselves and those for their kids, who often share the same devices.

Beyond the locking and restriction of access to certain device functions, the new patent also allows for voice, keyboard, and stylus commands to control various functions.   This means that kids who cannot spell or read might be able to say a simple word command to access the iPad or iPhone profile that their parents have set up for them.

The possibilities for the new invention are already swirling, with commentators noting that this could pave the way for widespread iPad use in schools.   With the teacher in charge of the settings, the teacher could theoretically block access to non-school related apps and only allow students to work on apps that are for school.  Parents could also have more control over what types of apps their kids access at different times, perhaps allowing educational and learning applications during the week and game apps on the weekend.

Whatever the specific implication of the new addition, one thing is clear - Apple has finally gotten the message that parents want to have more control over what their kids can do on their Apple devices.   Perhaps the recent parental outcry of complaints that Apple received for not requiring a password before making App Store purchases has stirred a response.   In that controversy, parents panned Apple for failing to require a password to be entered before every single purchase, claiming that their kids were racking up their bills buying add-ons and apps available through the App Store.  Now that it seems parents will have a way to restrict this kind of behavior by their kids, Apple might be able to get back in the good graces of techie parents.