Apple(s AAPL) is the target of yet another lawsuit, this time because of its new Passbook app in iOS 6. A San Diego company called Ameranth has filed court documents accusing Apple of infringing on several of its patents that cover the ability to wirelessly download and synch information like reservations across devices.
Ameranth is accusing Apple of infringing four patents. The company says Passbook’s ability to store airline boarding documents, hotel reservations and movie tickets infringes on similar ideas patented by Ameranth between 1999 and 2005.
While Apple is often sued by companies that buy up patents only to enforce them later, Ameranth is not your average patent troll. First, this company does make products — online poker and restaurant software. And second, it’s got some pretty high-profile backers, some of which happen to be direct competitors with Apple. That would be Microsoft(s MSFT) and Motorola, as VentureBeat reported earlier.
Microsoft and Motorola’s investments are described as “strategic,” which means they are probably small investments. But as VentureBeat points out, it could also be a way to avoid being a target.
A quick glance at Ameranth’s company news site shows that Apple is by no means Ameranth’s first target in enforcing these patents. The company sued a bunch of big names in travel and ticketing in July on similar grounds, including Hilton, Marriott, Best Western, Kayak, Travelocity, Hotels.com, Ticketmaster, StubHub, Fandango, Urbanspoon and others. Ameranth has been partly successful, too. It’s convinced several companies to license its patents, including at least one ticketing company, TicketMob.