updated 09:15 pm EST, Fri November 9, 2012
Screen rotation patent at core of dispute brought by patent troll
US District Court Judge Sue Robinson in Delaware has refused Apple's bid to set aside a lawsuit over screen rotation, and 17 other patents held by "classic patent troll" MobileMedia Ideas. Judge Robinson declared that the question of whether iOS devices infringed on MobileMedia Ideas' patents was "suitable for determination by a jury." MobileMedia Ideas is co-owned by Sony, Nokia, and licensing group MPEG LA, and is helmed by MPEG LA's chief executive Larry Horn.
MobileMedia Ideas has no products, but holds more than 300 patents acquired mainly from Sony and Nokia. The existence of the company protects the two manufacturers from defensive countersuits from targets of suits brought by the company.
The screen rotation patent in question was originally granted to Sony in 1999. Apple argues that the Sony patent is invalid because of prior art addressing device rotation sensing by potentiometer or sensor, rather than by a button as specified in Sony's patent being asserted. Judge Robinson ruled that Apple had not demonstrated obviousness of the asserted patent, so the matter will be headed to a trial. Neither Apple nor MobileMedia Ideas had any comment on the pending litigation.