Apple Sued Over iPhone's Proximity Sensor in New Patent Troll Lawsuit

iPhone-proximity511 Innovations, Inc. is the latest patent troll to file a complaint against Apple with the U.S. District Court for Eastern Texas, claiming that the iPhone's proximity sensor infringes upon five of its patents.

The asserted patents¹, filed between 1999 and 2012, relate to various methods for measuring optical characteristics of an object, such as color spectrums, translucence, gloss, and position detection.

511 Innovations is a Texas-based non-practicing entity that does not appear to sell any sensor-related products, but instead seeks to enforce its patented technologies through litigation. Eastern Texas is a common district for patent holding firms to target larger companies like Apple, which has fought similar lawsuits from VirnetX, Dot 23, VoIP-Pal, and others in recent years.

The small firm acquired the asserted patents in 2013 from JJL Technologies, which claims to have sold world market-leading spectrophotometers, according to court documents filed electronically this week. It then licensed the patents to Spectral Sensors, whose website has been "under construction" since 2013. Further complicating things, JJL Technologies had acquired the patents itself from LJ Laboratories.

511 Innovations has demanded a jury trial and is seeking damages in the form of a reasonable royalty, plus interest and fees, in addition to a permanent U.S. sales ban on iPhones and all other infringing products and services.

Legal battles of this nature can prove costly. Last month, Apple agreed to license Cover Flow- and Time Machine-related patents from Mirror World Technologies for $25 million, and it agreed to pay another $25 million in a Siri-related in April. It is, however, close to escaping a $533 million verdict won by Smartflash, LLC, and a $625 million verdict won by VirnetX was overturned last week.

¹ U.S. Patent Nos. 6,307,629, 7,110,096, 7,397,541, 8,472,012, and 8,786,844.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
52 months ago

Even if it is a scumy patent troll, I want to see Apple lose.

... why? This will only set precedent for more scummy patent trolls. And they won't just target Apple, but the whole industry. This drains resources, thus slowing innovation. We'll all lose.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
52 months ago

Because Apple is a patent troll too. It's called karma.

No they're not.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
52 months ago

Even if it is a scumy patent troll, I want to see Apple lose.

Did somebody clubbed your parents to death with an ipad or something?
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
52 months ago

Even if it is a scumy patent troll, I want to see Apple lose.

Thanks for that quality post, Derekuda. /s
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
52 months ago

Even if it is a scumy patent troll, I want to see Apple lose.

Wow. Only recently returned to the comments on MR after hiatus and this is why. I don't know what the answer is, most newspaper sites, twitter, etc., have a similar problem in that the comments section for MR has turned primarily into a outlet for some very angry, disillusioned folks rather than intelligent or interesting discourse. For a tech site, MR does seem to have a bigger problem than most.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
52 months ago
I'm sure Apple has tons of car patents but where is its iCar? People throwing the word patent troll haven't offered how to change the system. Do people seriously want it so if you are poor and have an awesome patentable idea, you can't patent it because you can't hire a factory to make the product? So only rich people can patent stuff? Insane.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Announces New 27-Inch iMac With 10th-Gen Processors, Up to 128GB RAM, 1080p Webcam, True Tone, and More

Tuesday August 4, 2020 8:07 am PDT by
Apple today announced a new 27-inch iMac with faster 10th-generation Intel Core processor options, next-generation AMD graphics, up to 128GB of RAM, a higher-resolution 1080p front-facing FaceTime camera, a True Tone display with a nano-texture glass option, a T2 chip, higher fidelity speakers, studio-quality microphones, and more. A breakdown of the new 27-inch iMac's features and specs:10th...

Apple May Launch This Year's 'iPhone 12' Lineup in Two Stages, With 6.1-inch Models Debuting First

Monday August 3, 2020 3:14 am PDT by
Apple last week confirmed that its "‌iPhone‌ 12" launch will be delayed this year due to the ongoing global health crisis and restrictions on travel. Apple last year started selling iPhones in late September, but this year, Apple projects supply will be "available a few weeks later," suggesting a release sometime in October. We're expecting a total of four OLED iPhones in 5.4, 6.1, and...

Apple-Acquired Dark Sky Officially Shuts Down Android App

Saturday August 1, 2020 3:43 pm PDT by
Apple in March purchased weather app Dark Sky, and at that time, Dark Sky's developers said that the app's Android version would be discontinued on July 1, 2020. However, instead of shuttering the app on that date, the app's developers announced that the discontinuation would be delayed for another month. Now that it's August, Android users are no longer able to access the app, and...

Everything New in iOS 14 Beta 4: Apple TV Widget, Search Improvements, Exposure Notification API and More

Tuesday August 4, 2020 11:14 am PDT by
Apple today released the fourth developer betas of iOS and iPadOS 14 for testing purposes, tweaking and refining some of the features and design changes included in the update. Changes get smaller and less notable as the beta testing period goes on, but there are still some noteworthy new features in the fourth beta, which we've highlighted below. - Apple TV widget - There's a new Apple TV...

Apple Explains Why You Might See 'Not Charging' When a Mac is Plugged In

Monday August 3, 2020 1:42 pm PDT by
If you have a Mac and have seen a "Not Charging" warning when plugging it in to power, Apple last week released a support document that explains why. Macs running macOS 10.15.5 or later have a Battery Health Management feature to preserve the life of the battery, and occasionally, the Battery Health Management option will cause the Mac to pause its charging for calibration purposes.Depending ...

Unreleased iPod Touch with Mac Pro Glossy Black Finish Shared Online

Sunday August 2, 2020 11:32 am PDT by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today posted images of what seems to be a first-generation iPod Touch prototype with a 2013 Mac Pro-style glossy black finish. The Twitter user claims that the iPod Touch prototype pictured has "the same coating as the 2013 Mac Pro." Had the finish been selected for the final product, it also would have been similar to the metallic glossy black finish that...

Phil Schiller Moving on to Become 'Apple Fellow,' Greg Joswiak Taking Over as Marketing SVP

Tuesday August 4, 2020 10:07 am PDT by
Apple's Phil Schiller is moving on to become an "Apple Fellow," Apple announced today, while Greg Joswiak will take over as Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. Schiller will continue to lead the App Store and Apple Events, but will no longer be in charge of marketing. Apple CEO Tim Cook said he is "thrilled" that Joswiak will be leading the marketing team, and that his...

Microsoft to Stop Supporting Office 2016 for Mac in October

Monday August 3, 2020 12:21 pm PDT by
Microsoft's Office 2016 for Mac is set to reach its end of support date on October 13, 2020, and after that date, connecting to Office 365 services using the Office 2016 for Mac software will no longer be supported. Microsoft shared the detail in a support document from July highlighting which versions of Office will be supported for connecting to Office 365 services in the future.Connecting ...

8 Third-Party Home Screen Widgets That You Can Try Out Now on iOS 14

Wednesday August 5, 2020 12:56 pm PDT by
One of the biggest new features of iOS 14 is Home Screen widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. The widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. When the iOS 14 beta was first released in June, widgets were limited to Apple's own apps like Calendar and Weather, but several third-party developers have begun to test ...

Apple Shares Requirements for Default Third-Party Browser and Email Apps With Developers

Monday August 3, 2020 4:28 pm PDT by
Apple in iOS 14 plans to allow users to set a third-party app as the default email or browser app on an iPhone or iPad, replacing the current Apple-made default apps Safari and Mail. Apple hasn't provided many details on the new feature to users, but as noted by MacStories' Federico Vittici, Apple has shared documentation with developers who want their apps to have the option to be set as a...