Court backs ex-Apple engineer who says he was left off inventors’ list

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Find my iPhone
Inventor worked on "Find My iPhone," among other features.
Photo: Apple

The ex-Apple engineer who claims he helped invent “Find My iPhone” and other features has beaten Apple in a preliminary court hearing.

Apple lost its bid to dismiss the former employee’s lawsuit earlier this week. The suit claims Apple left him off a list of five patents on which he was a rightful co-inventor. Along with “Find My iPhone,” Darren Eastman also notably worked on Passbook, the electronic ticketing system.

Eastman sued Apple one year ago. The court has not yet ruled on whether any of these claims have merit. However, it has dismissed Apple’s argument that there is no case to hear. That opens the door for a trial to take place in the future.

“Apple tried to obfuscate the court repeatedly with inaccurate statements and evasion,” Eastman told The Register. “Apple feels I’m giving others [whose lives have been negatively impacted] a blueprint for success.”

The court’s ruling is available to read online. A court-signed document notes that a case management conference will run through November 12, 2019. Eastman’s case was heard at the United States District Court Northern District of California.

A change in culture

According to Eastman, Steve Jobs promised him in 2009 that he could, “always work for Apple .” However, things changed after Jobs died. Eastman says that Apple culture under Tim Cook is very different. This included, “cronyism and a dedicated effort to ignore quality issues in current and future products.”

Eastman was fired in September 2014 for alleged unprofessional and inappropriate communications. This was reportedly over an argument about a bug in the Disk Utility application in macOS.

Eastman is also suing Apple for unlawful termination. That lawsuit has been put on hold until the resolution of the current patent case.

We will make sure to keep you updated about what happens in this case going forward.