Apple is being sued by Native Americans

By Maryam Dodhy on
September 29, 2017
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Apple gets sued quite often but not by Native Americans.

In a first, Native Americans have taken on Apple for intellectual property infringement. The newest lawsuit filed by three Native American tribes – the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation – seeks royalty payments from iPad sales. They are accusing Apple of infringing on a patent that is actually owned by these tribes.

Their US Patent No. 6,137,390 is related to “an inductor with enhanced inductance and reduced electromagnetic inductance (EMI) interference.”

The lawsuit against Apple was filed in a Delaware federal court. Now here is where things get interesting. Delaware is the favorite lawsuit-filing ground for ‘patent trolls’ because cases filed there tend to go in favor of the underdogs rather than the big shots. However, Apple understood the game being played against them and last month the case was transferred to California with the court stating that it did not make sense to keep Apple in Delaware’s overcrowded courts.

However, things get more interesting. You’re probably wondering how and why Native Americans got their hands on patents. Turns out companies have been acquiring patents and handing them over to Native American tribes in order to bypass a procedure called inter partes review, which could invalidate the patent.

Recently, it came to light that a drug company called Allergan had handed over its patents to St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, who in turn were being paid an annual royalty of $15 million, till the patent remained valid. Companies like Allergan are handing over their patents to Native Americans because according to the American constitution they hold what is called “sovereign immunity” and hence cannot be sued in court.

In this case as well, Native Americans are being used by an unknown party to gain immunity from being sued back by Apple.

This year has been rather busy for Apple in terms of lawsuit dealings. The company has been embroiled in a heated legal battle wherein chip-manufacturer Qualcomm sued them for patent infringement. And, unsurprisingly, Apple has already beaten Qualcomm in two patent rulings.

[Source Ars Technica]

 
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