Face ID patent troll withdraws complaint, but Apple wants ruling

mobtkr23 May 2022Last Update : 1 month ago
Face ID patent troll withdraws complaint, but Apple wants ruling

Apple is asking a court to bar future patent infringement claims from someone who appears to be a Face ID patent troll.

California resident Chian Chiu Li filed a patent infringement against Apple last month, then last week withdrew the suit without explanation…

The patent

Li’s patent is for a way to detect when someone isn’t actively using a smartphone but is looking at the lock screen, using it as a prompt to display information. The patent says it could include things like news, but the main purpose is to show ads.

When a smartphone is sleeping, its screen may dim to save power. Without user intervention, the smartphone would stay that way. In some cases, a user may not want to mess with a spare phone because they may be busy doing other things. In some other cases, when a user is not busy, they may still be hesitant to wake a phone from sleep state, if there is nothing interesting. In the latter scenario, a user may have time to take or view information, while a smartphone may have a blank screen ready to display and transmit information. However, it lacks convenient ways and incentives for a user to start it. As a result, the phone can sit idle, while a user can just stare at a dark, blank screen, which wastes time for both the user and the phone.

Accordingly, there is a need to utilize the idle time of smart phones and other electronic devices to present information to idle users. […]

When viewed by the user, the device begins to display content items on a screen. Content items may include advertisements […]

it is desirable to have a method and system that provides advertising information in a less intrusive but effective manner. Since an inactive device sometimes means an inactive user, it may be less intrusive and probably more effective to present ads using an inactive device in an unused time slot. […]

Idle time can be particularly useful for showing advertising content to inactive users.

Clearly Apple would never do anything so crude, but that didn’t stop Li from claiming the iPhone maker was infringing on his patent.

Face ID troll patent filing

Apple obviously reports that Li has filed an infringement lawsuit against Apple for “eye-tracking”.

On April 5, 2022, defendant filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple in the Northern District of California. See Chian Chiu Li v. Apple Inc., Case No. 4:22-cv-2159 (Dkt.1) (hereinafter “Original Complaint”) (attached as Exhibit A).

In the original complaint, the defendant alleged that Apple products, such as several versions of the iPhone and iPad Pro, infringed the ‘564 patent. […]

The defendant further alleged that the “Unlock with Face ID” feature on the defendant devices violated every limitation of claim 1 of the claimed patent, as well as every limitation of claims 8 and 14.

This is clearly nonsense, because a device responding to someone looking at it is the only thing Face ID has in common with Li’s patent, which serves a completely different purpose.

Moreover, Li’s patent wasn’t filed until February 3, 2020. Apple launched the first iPhone with Face ID in 2017, and the technology will of course have been developed long before that – likely years earlier.

The site notes that Li withdrew her complaint, without any explanation. Importantly, the takedown was “without prejudice,” meaning Li would be free to file the lawsuit again, in California or anywhere else — including troll-friendly jurisdiction in East Texas.

Apple seeks to avoid new filing

Apple obviously says Apple has requested declaratory judgment – meaning that even though the lawsuit has been withdrawn, the Cupertino company wants the court to review the facts anyway and rule that the patent has not been infringed . This would prevent Li from re-applying.

Apple filed a lawsuit for “declaratory judgment of non-infringement of U.S. Patent 11,016,564 in the Northern District of California in an effort to prevent the patent infringement case from proceeding.” […]

“Apple has a reasonable apprehension that Defendant will bring a new lawsuit alleging that the defendant devices infringe the ‘564 patent. The pre-trial communications between Apple and Defendant and Defendant’s dismissal of the original complaint without notice and without prejudice demonstrate that it is highly likely that defendant will again assert infringement of the ‘564 patent against Apple. In the meantime, the cloud of defendant’s allegations and litigation hangs over Apple.”

Apple also wants Li to pay his legal fees in the case.

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