Apple Hit With Patent-Infringement Lawsuit Over iPod Nano

courtroomApple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has once again become the target of a patent-infringement lawsuit. A China-based intellectual property firm has filed a patent-infringement complaint against Apple over the iPod nano, reports Patently Apple. Dragon Intellectual Property, LLC holds a patent titled, “Simultaneous recording and playback apparatus” that was filed in 1994. In the complaint, Dragon IP alleged that “Apple has directly infringed Claim 1 of the ‘444 patent by using, importing, selling, and offering to sell iPod Nanos with FM radio.”

As stated in the patent, Claim 1 covers “A recording and playback apparatus for the substantially immediate and seamless resumption of interrupted perception of program information based upon audio or video signals, or both, without missing the program information presented during the interruption.” The patent also describes a “record key and a playback key,” as well as a “storage medium having structure which enables substantially random access to information stored in said medium.”

According to the filed complaint, Dragon IP asked the court for “compensatory damages in an amount according to proof, and in no event less than a reasonable royalty.” The intellectual property firm also requested interest on any damages award as well as the costs of the lawsuit. Finally, Dragon IP also asked the court for an injunction that would forbid Apple “from further infringing the ‘444 patent.”

The complaint was filed on December 20 in federal district court in Delaware. According to Dragon IP’s official website, the firm “is a leading foreign-related intellectual property law firm in China, officially authorized in 1998 by the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of China as one of the few Chinese law firms qualified for handling foreign IP matters.”

Apple is often sued over patent infringement by non-practicing entities, or NPEs. According to PatentFreedom, an organization that caters to companies that are being sued by non-practicing entities, an NPE is a company that derives “the majority of its revenue from the licensing or enforcement of its intellectual property.” Because NPEs hold patent portfolios for the express purpose of suing practicing companies and do not actually utilize those patents, they are “essentially invulnerable to the threat of counter-assertion.”

According to PatentFreedom’s data, Apple was found to be the No. 1 target of NPE lawsuits in the first half of 2013. NPE’s are also popularly known as “patent trolls.” As noted by Patently Apple, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the “Innovation Act,” a bill that is intended to discourage frivolous lawsuits by patent holders.

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