Apple sued iPhone cameras, NFC technology

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A couple of separate patent infringement lawsuits filed on Friday call into question the design of Apple iPhone camera and NFC technology lenses, with both lawsuits seeking damages for alleged indiscretions.

The first lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, was filed by ImmerVision, a Canadian firm of French roots that specializes in wide-angle lens optics, image processing and computer vision.

In barebones complaints, ImmerVision states that its U.S. patent no. No. 6,844,990 for “A Method for Capturing and Displaying Variable Resolution Digital Panoramic Images,” approved in 2005, violated by Apple devices containing specialized lens structures for manipulating image properties. Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max have been named in the suit, though other products could also fall under the guise of infringement.

According to the complaint, at least one of the trio lenses on the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max contains lens structures that compress the center and edges of the image while simultaneously widening the midrange. The result is a miniature camera system capable of capturing panoramic, or rather wide-angle shots with minimal distortion.

Although not listed in the suit, Apple’s ultra-wide camera is probably the alleged culprit. The widest of the iPhone 13 Pro’s rear cameras has a 120-degree field of view with few signs of optical aberrations that typically accompany such lenses. Certain image distortions are corrected with iPhone software, but annual improvements in lens design usually offer greater benefits.

In its lawsuit, ImmerVision seeks damages and legal costs.

Another case filed by Irish-based patent company Aire Technology Limited, filed in the U.S. District Court for the West District of Texas, alleges that Apple infringes three pieces of intellectual property owned related to NFC and digital wallet technologies.

The lawsuit claims that U.S. Patent Nos. 8,581,706, 8,205,249 and 8,174,360, each of which deals with different aspects of the NFC system, especially when it comes to payments. The IP was developed by German currency technology expert Giesecke + Devrient.

Aire Technology alleges that Apple Pay, Wallet, and hardware that supports those services, such as the iPhone and Apple Watch, violate protected inventions. The technology covered by the patent requirements ranges from establishing connections between NFC terminals to carrying out the process of user authorization and management of hardware operation.

Apple Pay is Apple’s branded payment solution that allows users to conduct wireless mobile credit card transactions, securely store and present digital transit passes, manage loyalty cards, and more. Although not mentioned by name, the text of the complaint alludes to an alleged violation of unique Apple Wallet NFC capabilities such as CarKey.

Aire Technology seeks damages, current damages and legal damages in its lawsuit.

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Naveen Kumar

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