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Apple suit against eForCity can proceed, judge rules

updated 09:30 pm EDT, Wed April 6, 2011

Accessory maker 'unlicensed,' says company

Apple's patent infringement suit against iDevice accessory maker eForCity Corporation and six other related companies may proceed, a federal district judge has ruled. Apple is charging the parent company with producing iOS accessories that illegally used patented parts, and made products of "inferior quality and reliability, raising significant concerns over compatibility with and damage to Apple's products," as well as claiming to be a participant in the company's "Made for iPod" program when they were not, reports Bloomberg.

The "Made for" programs, which cover iPhones, iPods and iPads, are Apple's method of collecting royalties -- estimated to be in the 20 percent range on each device sold -- on the patents related to the dock connector and other original parts. Apple has argued that eForCity and its related companies, almost all located in El Monte, California and owned by the same person, is not a participant in the program, and thus wasn't licensed to make accessories for the iDevices that incorporated the patented parts.

For its part, eForCity objected to the lawsuit on the grounds that it was "procedurally improper." Judge Jeremy Fogel of the U.S. District Court of Northern California dismissed the objection, saying that Apple has properly listed its claims in its lawsuit, but did require Apple to remove negative customer testimonials from the complaint, which was originally filed last July.

"EforCity distributes and/or sells non-licensed iPod®, iPhone®, and iPadtm compatible accessories, including but not limited to car chargers, AV adapters, FM Transmitters, speaker systems, backup batteries, and various cables and docking cradles. Apple alleges that eForCity's actions directly infringe several of Apple's utility and design patents," a portion of the complaint against eForCity reads. Apple alleges that the unlicensed products may violate as many as 10 different patents. Apple has said in its original complaint that as many as another 20 infringing companies may be named later.

As of today, the eForCity.com website continues to sell iPod, iPad and iPhone accessories, though a quick check showed that none of the items for sale directly connect to the dock connector, nor does the company offer a 30-pin compatible cable. Last October, Apple won a court order against another company that was selling unlicensed power adapters for MacBook and MacBook Pro computers. The company, HyperMac, agreed to stop selling the products. [via Bloomberg]






by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. Inkling

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -1

    Doing the arithmetic....

    I have two perfectly good iGo power supplies that I could use with my MacBook. I can't because Apple won't let them sell me a MagSafe-compatible connector that iGo's engineers have already designed.

    Does iGo make products that are of ""inferior quality and reliability, raising significant concerns over compatibility with and damage to Apple’s products"? I don't think so. Virtually every other laptop maker on the planet has no problem with their products. One of my iGo supplies even carries a Microsoft label. And not only that, I can remember several serious quality control issues with Apple power supplies (particularly the cables). I can't remember hearing of one with iGo's products. If anything, the ones I own are overbuilt.

    The real reason requires a little arithmetic. Apple might clear $2-4 licensing one of iGo's $10 adapters. They'd rather sell me one of their MacBook power supplies for $79 and make perhaps 10-15 times as much.

    Finally, I can understand why Apple's lawyers might claim that eForCity.com products are inferior. I've never bought from eForCity, so I don't know anything about them. Their products might be as bad as Apple is claiming. Lawyers do, from time to time, tell the truth when it suits their purposes.

    But that doesn't explain why Apple won't license quality MagSafe-compatible products made by well-established, reputable companies. Only greed and a fetish for control explain that.


  1. cvbcvb

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    One Option

    I've been using my iGo 130 adapter with a Magsafe connector for YEARS on my 17" MacBook Pro. An S4 tip and this unique cable is all that was needed. Not cheap but one option.

    http://mikegyver.com/

    CVB

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    obvious

    The reasoning for not licensing the technology is patently obvious. If you look on Apple's on web site for reviews of their power adapters, you'd see they get ridiculously poor ratings (and this is on Apple's site - how bad does it have to be before Apple users start writing bad reviews about them?).

    So Apple doesn't want others to come in and offer up better chargers. Apple might lose out on the large replacement and extra charger business they have.

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