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Summary:

Apple is being sued by Brandywine Communications Technologies over multimedia voicemail in its iPhone and iPad products. In the complaint filed Tuesday in the U.S. district court for the middle district of Florida, Brandywine claims that Apple is infringing on two patents related to mobile voicemail.

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Apple is being sued by Brandywine Communications Technologies over multimedia voicemail in its iPhone and iPad products. In the complaint filed in the U.S. district court for the middle district of Florida Tuesday, Brandywine claims that Apple is infringing on two patents it owns related to mobile voicemail.

The patents in question are No. 6,236,717 and No. 5,719,922, which are  very similar, and both are described as covering a “simultaneous voice/data answering machine.” The patents at issue were filed in 2001 and 1998, respectively, in Florida by their inventors.

Here’s the official description from the patent filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office:

A simultaneous voice and data modem coordinates the storage of voice messages and data messages on an audio answering machine and a personal computer, respectively. This allows the called party to subsequently retrieve, via the simultaneous voice and data modem, both a voice message and an associated data message, i.e., a multimedia message, where the called party listens to the voice message while viewing the data message. The called party can retrieve the multimedia message either locally or from a remote location.

So who is Brandywine Communications Technologies? When Verizon sued the company last week for infringement — on different patents — the carrier basically accused Brandywine of patent trolling. In that complaint against Brandywine, Verizon described the company as “a patent holding company that is in the business of enforcing patent rights through the filing of various lawsuits.”

That would put Brandywine in the same category as Lodsys and NTP, two patent holding companies that went after Apple and several other mobile device makers in recent years over both in-app purchase technology and wireless email delivery methods.

Brandywine does seem to be scattering patent lawsuits far and wide. It already sued practically every big name in mobile technology back in September over these same patents. That included Apple, RIM, LG, Samsung, Nokia, Motorola, HTC, T-Mobile, AT&T and several others. This time they’re trying their luck at suing Apple directly.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

  1. Since when is an iMac a phone with an audio phone answering machine.??
    And the iPhone will take voice message but you cannot send a data file for storage over the phone system. Just so wrong on so many counts.

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  2. Did Brandywine whoever win any of the lawsuits against any of the other companies that the sued? I don’t see that anywhere.

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  3. I find that rather rediculous since it seems to be my carrier AT&T that is used for VOICEMAIL on my Iphone. I have to set it up using AT&T or the people get a message from AT&T stating that this user has voicemail but has not set it up with a password. AT&T not Apple or whoever makes your phone, do you find the same with other phones/carriers?

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  4. Software patents are usually way too vague and global in scope, suffocating the creativity of the online community.

    Example: United States Patent 5845265 “Consignment nodes”
    “A method and apparatus for creating a computerized market for used and collectible goods by use of a plurality of low cost posting terminals and a market maker computer in a legal framework that establishes a bailee relationship and consignment contract with a purchaser of a good at the market maker computer that allows the purchaser to change the price of the good once the purchaser has purchased the good thereby to allow the purchaser to speculate on the price of collectibles in an electronic market for used goods while assuring the safe and trusted physical possession of a good with a vetted bailee.”

    How the hell would anyone A) Find this easily doing a search without knowing the exact patent numers, and B) Know the gibberish applies their product??

    The biggest problem I have with the patent system is the ability to patent an idea without any physical working model. That’s saying “I don’t know how to do it, but if anyone else is smarter than me and figures it out then they owe me money”? Let’s be reasonable. Someone could also discover an existing idea and patent it first, dragging the origional inventor though a nightmare of legal fees and issues even if the lawsuit is invalad.

    Vague software patents also blur the thin line between fair competition and monopolies, defined as a persistent market situation where there is only one provider of a product or service. Software patents do just that, they severely limit the amout of fair competition.

    It seems true that our basic freedoms are vanishing at an alarming rate, we aparently no longer have the freedom to express our thoughts and ideas without threat of persecution. (Yes, frivolous and petty prosecution IS persecution)

    And YES computer code is exactly like a poem, story or article. It should be Copyrighted not patented. Someone had to use their freedom of expression and write the code in a language that a computer understands, which is e

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  5. Another patent squatter. These —-holes are holding back technology and software advancement. As if they didn’t get enough the first time around, they want a slice of the pie from any one who can take an idea one step further or based on an old idea come up with a better idea. The patent system needs a real good clean out and these sitters need to be kicked out of the office, just like that turd who’s messin with assassins creed!!! GGGgrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!

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  6. Apple is doing the same thing to other companies and individuals. Turn about is fair play. – But not FairPlay as that would mean a patent lawsuit ;-)

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