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

vmachiel Avatar
63 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)
Michael Goff Avatar
63 months ago
Because Apple is a patent troll too. It's called karma.
No they're not.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
enzoshadow Avatar
63 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)
rolsskk Avatar
63 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)
truthertech Avatar
63 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)
macfacts Avatar
63 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

iphone12protriplelenscamera

Apple's Orders for Key iPhone 13 Camera Component Expected to Outstrip Entire Android Market

Wednesday June 9, 2021 12:47 am PDT by
Major camera upgrades coming to the iPhone 13 series are putting increased pressure on suppliers to meet Apple's demand for key lens components, according to a new DigiTimes report. Apple has reportedly put Taiwan-based makers of voice coil motor (VCM) components on notice to increase their capacity by 30-40% in order to meet the company's demand, which is expected to outstrip the entire...
live text macos monterey

Several macOS Monterey Features Unavailable on Intel-Based Macs

Wednesday June 9, 2021 8:23 am PDT by
While there are many great new features in macOS Monterey, several of them are not available on Intel-based Macs, according to Apple. On the macOS Monterey features page, fine print indicates that the following features require a Mac with the M1 chip, including any MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and iMac model released since November 2020:Portrait Mode blurred backgrounds in...
m1x mbp tags feature

Apple Lists 'M1X MacBook Pro' in YouTube Tags for WWDC Keynote Video

Wednesday June 9, 2021 7:19 am PDT by
Before WWDC, rumors largely driven by leaker Jon Prosser suggested that Apple would announce redesigned 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros during the conference. Those rumors, however, did not come to fruition. Interestingly, though, Apple lists "m1x MacBook Pro" as a tag for the WWDC keynote uploaded on YouTube. The tag, first spotted by Apple YouTuber Max Balzer on Twitter, is among other...
macos monterey setup assistant

macOS Monterey Allows You to Erase a Mac Without Needing to Reinstall the Operating System

Wednesday June 9, 2021 4:41 pm PDT by
It's been a few days since Apple announced macOS Monterey, and we continue to dig through new features that weren't mentioned during the WWDC keynote, including a much more convenient way of erasing a Mac. Following in the footsteps of the iPhone and iPad, the Mac has gained an "Erase All Content and Settings" option on macOS Monterey. The option allows you to erase all user data and...
apple repair service expansion iphone repair 07072020 big

Apple Agrees to Multimillion-Dollar Settlement After iPhone Repair Technicians Post Customer's Private Photos Online

Monday June 7, 2021 2:44 am PDT by
Apple has paid a 21-year-old millions of dollars in a legal settlement after photos and videos from the customer's iPhone, sent in for repair, were uploaded to Facebook, leading to "severe emotional distress," according to a new report from The Telegraph. The incident occurred in 2016 at a repair facility run by Apple supplier Pegatron in California. The 21-year-old college student sent her...
16 inch macbook pro m2 render

New MacBook Pro Shipments Forecasted to Begin in Third Quarter

Tuesday June 8, 2021 8:28 am PDT by
While leaker Jon Prosser claimed that a new MacBook Pro was coming at WWDC, Apple's keynote did not include any new hardware announcements. Instead, it is looking increasingly likely that redesigned 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models powered by a faster iteration of the M1 chip will be released in the third or fourth quarter of the year. A paywalled preview of a DigiTimes report today...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With iOS 15: See Apple's New Operating System Update in Action

Tuesday June 8, 2021 3:28 pm PDT by
Apple yesterday unveiled iOS 15, the newest version of the iOS operating system that runs on the iPhone (and the iPad with iPadOS 15). iOS 15 is a significant update that introduces many important new features, and we thought we'd give MacRumors readers a first look at the new software. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Not everything that was announced yesterday is...
imac macbook pro macos monterey

Newer Macs Can Use Another Mac as an External Display on macOS Monterey

Wednesday June 9, 2021 2:10 pm PDT by
One of the key new features of macOS Monterey is the ability to AirPlay content to a Mac from other Apple devices, such as an iPhone, iPad, or another Mac. According to the macOS Monterey features page, AirPlay to Mac works works both wirelessly or wired using a USB cable, with Apple noting that a wired connection is useful when you want to ensure that there's no latency or don't have access to a ...
Dark Sky App Featured

Dark Sky iOS App, Website, and API Now Scheduled to Remain Available Until End of 2022

Thursday June 10, 2021 7:34 am PDT by
Last year, Apple acquired the weather app Dark Sky, and shortly after its purchase, Apple shut down the app for Android. Despite the revamped iOS 15 Weather app taking heavy inspiration from Dark Sky, the weather's app standalone iOS app, web app, and API will remain available until the end of next year, compared to the end of this year, as previously planned. Dark Sky announced in an update ...
photos app remove from featured

iOS 15 Finally Lets You Block Your Exes From Ruining Your Photo Memories

Wednesday June 9, 2021 12:37 pm PDT by
With iOS 15, Apple is introducing more granular control over the people and places that show up in your Photos Memories, letting you fine tune just who makes random appearances in the Photos app and the Photos widget. In iOS 14, the option on the right was available, but in iOS 15, the person-specific option is new You've already been able to select "Suggest Fewer Memories Like This" when...