Patent suit against Apple highlights frivolous cases

Attach headphones to an Apple iPhone. Were instructions required? Owners of Intelligent Smart Phone Concepts and patent issuers seem to think so. The phone company has brought a $3 million lawsuit against Apple in California over simple headphone insertion instructions.

The intellectual property challenge against Apple is not the first to be considered frivolous. ISPC is described as a patent troll, a business with a catalogue of patents and no publicly-offered services or products.

The legal action accuses Apple of infringing upon a patent for a “wireless mobile phone including a headset.” Technology observers argue that ISPC is blatantly suing Apple for an obvious product design.

Critics are also dismayed that a patent would be granted for such a no-brain function such as plugging in a set of headphones. It’s not as if generations have forgotten decades of experiences with sound-producing devices.

It is difficult to believe that there are living individuals who would fail to connect headphones to an audio device without directions. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office apparently thought the patent was unique.

ISPC is forging ahead with the attempt to punish Apple for swiping a protected design feature. The phone company asked for a jury to decide if a $3 million violation has occurred.

The plaintiff might hope that Apple will come to a settlement. It is often less expensive and time consuming than legal action for a company to agree to licensing or a settlement over alleged patent infringement.

Some patent law reform advocates believe technology businesses should band together to fight patent trolls. They believe a long-range, all-out legal war on businesses that exist in to sue other companies could put patent trolls on the run.

So far, companies that service the public or sell tech products are addressing patent infringement actions straightforwardly. The courts are backlogged with patent cases, many of which are brought by plaintiffs whose only revenues come from licensing agreements.

Source: Forbes, “The Patent System Really Is Broken If Someone Is Trolling Apple For This,” Tim Worstall, Nov. 29, 2012