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Court finds Apple guilty of stealing Nokia and Sony’s ring-silencing patent for its iPhone

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Apple asked to pay $3 million for patent infringement

Apple has lost a patent infringement law suit to patent licensing entity, Mobile Media Ideas LLC and has been ordered to pay $3 million in damages to the company, reported Ars Technica.

A Delaware federal jury on Wednesday ruled that Apple had infringed a patent, owned by Maryland-based MobileMedia Ideas LLC, for ring-silencing technology on mobile phones.

Apple apparently infringed MobileMedia’s Patent No. RE 39,231, which is related to ring-silencing features on mobile phones. In 1994, Sony patented a method for users to control incoming calls on a mobile phone, whereby an alert sound would be either stopped, or the sound would reduce after the initial loud alert during certain user actions or as a result of user operations with the phone.

MobileMedia Ideas LLC, owned by Nokia, Sony and IP rights management firm MPEG LA, has been fighting a war since 2010 to get it legally declared that Apple has infringed Patent No. RE 39,231, together with 15 other patents, in its iPhone line of smartphones.

In 2012, the court made the first decision against Apple wherein it found the electronics giant infringing only four patents, which included call alerts, call handling, call rejection and the phone’s camera. However, in 2015, Apple appealed again and an appeals court dismissed three of the patents but sent back the fourth patent (call silencing) to be reviewed by the courts.

This led to another trial in which Apple argued that the telephone ring patent was invalid because it was too vague. However, the federal court of Delaware disagreed, and decided that Apple was indeed guilty of infringing the patent on September 21.

Even though the $3 million verdict is hardly going to make an impact on Apple, it is likely that Apple will not take this lying down either and will appeal to the Federal Circuit.. On the other hand, this verdict is not a huge win for MobileMedia Ideas LLC, who was reportedly seeking $18 million in royalties from the trial.

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