The ongoing war over smartphone patents has just taken a new twist as a Delaware jury this week ruled that Apple’s iPhone infringes three patents for range of functions such as cameras, batteries and answering calls.
The U.S. Patent Office issued two of the patents to Nokia in 2000 and 2002 and the other to Sony in 2001. Records show that the companies transferred the patents to a shell company called MobileMedia in 2010 which then proceeded to sue major players in the phone industry, including Apple, Google, HTC and Research in Motion.
The three patents in question appear to be exceptionally broad and at least one title reads like gibberish. They are U.S. Patent 6253075 (“Method and Apparatus for Incoming Call Rejection”), U.S. Patent 6427078 (“Device for personal communication, data collection and data processing… also comprises a camera unit”) and U.S. Patent 6070068 (“Communication terminal device and method for controlling the connecting state of a call into a desired connection state upon a predetermined operation by a user”).
The jury’s verdict, which was first reported by Bloomberg, is reproduced below. So far, court records do not show that the jury has made any damages finding against Apple. The company has yet to offer a statement but it is likely to appeal the ruling.
The Delaware jury finding comes at a time when many, including the companies themselves, are acknowledging the patent battles are getting out of hand. Many of the patents used to fuel the litigation date from the early 2000’s when the patent office had a reputation for granting patents on nearly anything (including a method for swinging on a swing).