Uniloc has filed yet another patent infringement battle against Apple at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, this time alleging Apple’s TV remote software infringes its single patent – No. 6,216,158 for a “System and method using a palm sized computer to control network devices”, which details a technique of remotely controlling internet-connected hardware from a handheld device. The patent was filed for in 1999 and 2001 and has been used by the company in a number of infringement suits against Apple software, hence the classification of Uniloc as a ‘patent troll’.
Uniloc is seeking an unspecified amount of damages for the infringement, as well as reimbursement of legal fees and other relief deemed fit by the court.
Uniloc in its suit argues Apple infringes on multiple claims of the property by employing similar remote control methods with its Apple TV Remote app for iOS. The latest version of the software launched in 2016 as an accompaniment to the fourth-generation Apple TV. Still offered today, the Apple TV Remote’s GUI mimics the physical Siri Remote, complete with touchpad and dedicated soft buttons for play/pause, Siri and the recently added “TV” app.
The first filing by the NPE against Apple was in 2016 over Messages infringing on four patents owned by Uniloc. More recently, however, Uniloc has accelerated its filing rate to about one every two to three weeks. Last month, two suits were filed by the ‘troll’ alleging Apple is in infringement of three separate patents with its AirPlay and Continuity features. Connected to today’s lawsuit, the AirPlay litigation also names the Apple TV Remote app as infringing software.
Uniloc is one of the most prolific patent trolls in the U.S. and wields reassigned patents or vaguely worded original IP to sue high-profile tech firms in hopes of reaching an out of court settlement. Prior to Apple, the NPE’s targets included Activision Blizzard, Aspyr, Electronic Arts, McAfee, Microsoft, Rackspace, Sega, Sony, Symantec and more.