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]