Apple Preemptively Sues 'Patent Troll' to Address Threats Over USB-Related Power Patents

Apple on Tuesday filed suit against Fundamental Innovation Systems International (FISI), preemptively asking a California court to declare that Apple has not infringed upon a number of USB power patents held by FISI.

Lightning iPhone 7
FISI, described by Apple as a patent assertion entity formed for the sole purpose of generating revenue through patent litigation, acquired a portfolio of charging-related patents from BlackBerry that it has asserted against several tech giants, including LG, Samsung, and Huawei, who are now listed as FISI licensees.

Apple believes it could be sued next and is seeking a declaration of non-infringement in advance, according to the complaint:

Defendants have claimed, through letters, claim charts, telephone calls and in-person meetings with Apple personnel in this District, that certain Apple products infringe the Patents-in-Suit and that Apple requires a license to the Patents-in-Suit. However, Apple's products do not infringe the Patents-in-Suit.

This Court should not allow the threat of a future lawsuit to harm and cause uncertainty to Apple's business.

The former BlackBerry patents generally relate to USB-based charging protocols, systems, and methods dating back to the early 2000s.

Apple believes none of its products violate the patents, including its power adapters. One of Apple's consistent defenses throughout its complaint is that its devices and power adapters rely on its proprietary Lightning connector rather than adhering to the USB 2.0 protocols described in the patents.

Apple has demanded a jury trial in the U.S. District Court of Northern California. Beyond a declaration of non-infringement, Apple is seeking legal fees and any other relief which Apple may be entitled to as deemed appropriate by the court.

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Top Rated Comments

kironin Avatar
71 months ago
So if a company sees another company about to fail, and decided to purchase their portfolio to make money off their patents, they are considered patent trolls?
Sounds like a great business decision.
Yes, definite patent trolls.

It's not the purpose or intent for which patents exist. Really there should be a process in which these patents go in to the public domain after a company fails and is no longer intent on making use of these patents in a productive manner.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jdiamond Avatar
71 months ago
So if a company sees another company about to fail, and decided to purchase their portfolio to make money off their patents, they are considered patent trolls?

Sounds like a great business decision.
As someone with experience in the tech field and patents, I would be greatly in favor of abandoning ALL patents. The reason is that the few cases in which a patent describes something that's truly novel and non obvious is so small as to be not worth even considering as a factor.

However, a good intermediate step for those who still see a point to patents would be to disallow ANY revenue from patent ownership from any party that (1) isn't the original inventor of the idea, or (2) isn't actively producing a product incorporating the idea. The purpose of patents is to spur innovation, not make people rich or commoditize ideas. For all those with the knee jerk reaction of "why would people make anything if they couldn't patent it" IMO has never been part of a technical job, in which everything you do, every day, is more sophisticated than most patents. Often it's how you end up using them - the total package - that has the real value. And that's not patentable.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tzm41 Avatar
71 months ago
Someone will definitely win
The lawyers win
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
genovelle Avatar
71 months ago
I love it! They should set aside 10% of their extra 200 billion in cash to a strike first legal fund and make it known they will control the conversation by ensuring it is fought in their turf in California.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Naraxus Avatar
71 months ago
Apple has a lot of nerve calling someone a patent troll considering they set up a shell company to do exactly that

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockstar_Consortium
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
The Don Onez Avatar
71 months ago
"Should" but that's not the case today.

I don't understand why a patent should go into public domain after a company fails. If their assets are sold off, then the new buyer should be able to pull a profit. Evidently the patents are still useful, or they wouldn't be used.
Yes, definite patent trolls.

It's not the purpose or intent for which patents exist. Really there should be a process in which these patents go in to the public domain after a company fails and is no longer intent on making use of these patents in a productive manner.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)