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.

July 26, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles - An appeals court on Monday affirmed a lower court ruling for Google, Inc., Yahoo, Inc., and, Inc. against patent infringement claims brought by Eolas Technologies, Inc.

The decision, originally made by a jury in 2012 in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas, invalidated two patents held by Michael Doyle for interactive internet technology.

Doyle was a computer programmer at University of California, San Francisco in 1993 when he oversaw a project that allowed multiple scientists to watch a live streaming video simultaneously over the Internet for the first time.  Along with David Martin and Cheong Ang, Doyle filed for patent protection for this innovation in October 1994, and the University of California sponsored his application.

The patent was granted in November 1998, with U.S. Patent Number 5,838,906, titled “Distributed hypermedia method for automatically invoking external application providing interaction and display of embedded objects within a hypermedia document.”

Michael Doyle formed Eolas Technologies to defend his patents, which were some of the earliest granted for Internet related innovations.  The company, which sells no products, has made millions of dollars from lawsuits against major Internet retailers for infringement of Doyle’s inventions.

This decision struck a major blow to Eolas.  Eolas claimed that protection of its patent, first granted in 1998, extended to all interactive features on websites, known as plug-ins, which include auto-fill, embedded videos, and map technology.

Eolas has argued that nearly every major website today violates its patents and has aggressively defended its rights through a multitude of lawsuits.

In 1999, Eolas brought patent infringement claims against Microsoft for aspects of its Internet Explorer browser.  A jury found Microsoft liable for $540 million in damages to Eolas, but the two sides settled out of court after Microsoft agreed to pay more than $100 million to Eolas and its co-plaintiff, the University of California.

Since then, Eolas has sued countless other corporations for the interactive elements of their websites.  Even after its 2012 jury loss, Eolas brought patent infringement lawsuits against The Walt Disney Company, ESPN, Inc., Facebook, Inc., and others.

Doyle has been demonized by the technology industry as a “patent troll,” a term used to describe people who claim broad interpretations of their patents to extract settlements from corporations.  The World Wide Web Consortium spoke out against the ‘906 patent in 2003, as the internet standards-setting body presented evidence of prior inventions which it claimed invalidated Doyle’s patent.

This most current loss looks to likely bring an end to patent infringement lawsuits by Eolas, so companies will be more free to use interactive website technology without risk of infringement.