Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) finds itself in yet another patent infringement lawsuit--this time from Bellevue-based company VoIP-Pal.com Inc.
Claiming $2.8 billion in damages, VoIP-Pal alleges that Apple’s FaceTime and iMessage services incorporate its patented caller classification technology without proper authorization. Filed in May 9 in a U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, Nevada, the lawsuit was initiated in February 9 but was delayed in hopes of reaching an amicable settlement with Apple.
Unauthorized Use of Technology Hurt VoIP-Pal’s Business Performance
VoIP-Pal (a publicly-traded corporation that acquired VoIP network operator Digifonica in 2013) describes itself “as a technical leader in the broadband Voice-over-Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) market with the ownership and development of a portfolio of leading edge VoIP patent applications.”
The subject of the company’s infringement claim are Apple’s iMessage (the app that enables the exchange of text and multimedia message) and FaceTime (which allows users to make audio or video calls over the internet). Both apps utilize a caller dialing profile, which helps recognize whether the user on the receiving end of the message (for iMessage) or call (for FaceTime) is an Apple user or is subscribed to a carrier service that supports Apple’s calling feature or not.
The caller-attribute classification technology employed by these services is patented by VoIP-Pal.
VoIP-Pal claims that the patent has been awarded to them since May 2008, and Apple (despite having actual knowledge of this) continued to use the patented technology without proper licensing. This unauthorized use and distribution of Apple products that employ the technology has, as per court documents, undermined VoIP-Pal’s business performance.
VoIP-Pal Open to Amicable Resolution
VoIP-Pal has taken similar legal charges against telecommunications giants Verizon and AT&T. The company is seeking compensation for damages which could amount to over $7 billion (the company is asking the court for $1.8 billion from AT&T, $2.3 billion from Verizon, and $2.8 billion from Apple). VoIP-Pal CEO Emil Malak, however, stated “We are confident the current goodwill on both sides will result in a favorable outcome for all parties involved.”
The lawsuit certainly comes at a bad time for Apple. The tech giant recently saw its first-ever period of iPhone sales decline. In addition, Apple is still involved in a $625.6 Million patent dispute with VirnetX over four of the latter’s patent that included Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and other communication protocols. Apple has been ordered to pay; however, the company has filed for a mistrial.