‘Patent troll’ sues Apple over AirDrop technology

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AirDrop shortcut
AirDrop lets you send files between devices.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Apple introduced its super useful AirDrop file transfer feature way back in 2011. However, a patent licensing company called Uniloc — sometimes referred to as a “patent troll” by critics — claims that Apple is infringing on its intellectual property.

Uniloc says that Apple’s AirDrop tech infringes on a patent first filed in 2000, a decade before Apple debuted AirDrop. And it wants some sweet Apple cash for its troubles!

The patent in question, “Method and system for electronic device authentication,” describes a way of creating a secure environment for transferring data, short range, across multiple devices. This would be done using wireless protocols such as Bluetooth. The patent was ultimately granted in 2006.

Uniloc did not invent the technology, although it is the current patent holder. The patent was transferred from its original inventor to Philips Electronics, then on to IPG Electronics 503, Pendragon Wireless, and finally Uniloc in 2017.

Apple’s AirDrop technology

Apple’s AirDrop feature was initially launched in 2011 with OS X Lion, intended as a way to connect two Macs for file transfers. The name was later used again, involving slightly different technology, to allow iOS mobile devices to send files to Macs. This debuted with iOS 7 in 2013. It is this second iteration that Uniloc claims infringes on its patent.

The lawsuit has been filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. The company is seeking unspecified damages, along with payment of its legal fees.

This is nothing new for Apple, of course. Due to the massive amount of money that it makes, and the scope of its technologies, Apple is one of the most sued companies in the world when it comes to alleged patent infringements. After all, if you can get a licensing micropayment for every time Apple sells an iPhone or other device, you’ve got it made!

We’ll keep you updated on what happens in this case.

Source: Apple Insider