Apple Sued By Intertrust Over iPhones, iPads, App Store

Intertrust filed a complaint against Apple that says its products and services infringe on Intertrust patents. In 2004 it won a case against Microsoft.

Apple continues to keep attorneys busy.

Intertrust, a Silicon Valley company partially owned by Sony and Philips, has filed a complaint with a U.S. District Court in Northern California against Apple, claiming that 15 Intertrust patents for security and "distributed trust computing" are being violated by a range of Apple products and services.

Apple iPhones, iPads, Macs and MacBooks, Apple TV, iTunes, iCloud and the Apple App Store were all named as infringing on the patents

"Apple makes many great products that use Intertrust's inventions," Intertrust CEO Talai Shamoon said in a March 20 statement.

"Our patents are foundational to modern Internet security and trusted computing and result from years of internal research and development," he continued. "We are proud of our record of peaceful and constructive licensing with industry leaders. We find it regrettable that we are forced to seek Court assistance to resolve this matter.

In the complaint, Intertrust asserts that it pioneered the use of integrated, distributed security controls for a highly networked world. It offered the example of a person with a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop and a desktop who may wish to transfer, store or use the same content on some or all of his devices. That person, or an enterprise, may also wish to have control over certain content on certain devices, but not offer others access to the content, or be able to remotely provide controls or security settings over said content.

"The Asserted Patents claim richly customizable and transferable security and content rules and controls that allow for content to be securely shared, transferred, sold and/or used on a variety of networked computers and mobile devices," states the complaint.

Intertrust added that it has a long history of licensing its patents to mobile industry leaders, including Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia, Motorola, HTC, LG Electronics and Sony.

Moreover, it said that Apple is well aware of the innovations that Intertrust's patents cover, since Intertrust brought a suit against Microsoft for many of the same ones.

"Apple is aware of the existence of the license between Intertrust and Microsoft and the $440 million that Microsoft paid pursuant to that license." Such knowledge, it added, "did not deter Apple's willful infringement of Intertrust's intellectual property."

Within the increasingly litigious mobile industry, Apple has legally faced off with a long list of players. Currently, it's fighting with Samsung, in court rooms around the world, regarding the infringement of patents and whether Samsung willfully copied some of Apple's popular products.

In August 2012, a jury sided with Apple, awarding it more than $1 billion in damages. However, on March 1, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, who suffered the case from the start, reduced Apple's award to closer to $600 million, saying she had detected an error in the jury's damages verdict.

Koh, after initially hesitating, seems to have also agreed to allow the pair a second trial regarding a handful of additional patents Apple says have been infringed.

A week before Samsung introduced the Galaxy S 4, Apple argued in a filing that the timeliness of a second trial was critical to stop "the ongoing sales—and relentless launch—of Samsung's latest infringing devices, which have caused, and every day continue to cause, continuing harm to Apple."