According to Patentfreedom.com, Apple has been second only to Google in number of frivolous patent lawsuits defended since 2009. These suits are brought by non-practicing entities (NPE), also known by the somewhat controversial name “patent trolls.” Well, Patent Freedom should add one more mark to its tally, as Apple has been slapped with yet another patent lawsuit, this time from so-called troll Hilltop Technologies, LLC.
Hilltop owns patent 7,864,503, which covers technology relating to touchscreens. Since iPhones and iPads are fundamentally dependent on their capacitive touch panels, this suit aims right at the heart of the tech giant.
The original patent was issued to a Taiwanese inventor in 2011 and was snatched up by Hilltop, which has been filing a number of lawsuits since September. It has used the touchscreen patent to go after several companies in the mobile device space.
The company filed its case in the Eastern District Court of Texas, asking Apple to pay damages, stating, "Apple's products that infringe the '503 Patent include, but are not limited to, all Apple products having a capacitive type touch panel, including its iPad Air having capacitive-type Touch-On-Lens (TOL) touch panels. Apple is thus liable for infringement of the '503 Patent...”
As of press time, Apple has not issued a statement about this suit, though the tech giant is not unfamiliar with this type of lawsuit. In October, for example, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company won a patent infringement suit brought by WiLAN, a non-practicing entity that owns patents covering wireless technology.
General counsel and state attorneys general alike have turned their attention to the issue of patent trolls, and an assortment of AGs and GCs will be speaking about the topic at an upcoming roundtable event. The free event will take place on Feb. 4, 2014, from 3:00-5:00 pm at the Intercontinental New York Barclay. It will feature the attorneys general from Nebraska, Missouri and Vermont as well as the general counsel from Walmart, DuPont and Rackspace. For more information, or to register for the event, click here.
For more on patent trolls, check out the following: