Apple has been sued by patent troll Uniloc in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas over AirDrop. The suit has been filed based on a single patent granted to Uniloc back in 2000.
The initial patent application credits Jonathan Griffiths as the inventor, though the patent has changed hands multiple times before finally being assigned to Uniloc in February 2018. The patent describes a “method and system for electronic device authentication.”
Electronic devices are authenticated to each other initially over a short-range wireless link. In particular, a user first enters a given authentication information in each device. Later, when the devices are out-of-range of the wireless link, they may be authenticated to each other without subsequent user input when one of the devices invites the other to exchange authentication information over an alternative communications link. If the authentication is successful, the devices may then communicate over the alternative communications link as if they were within range of the original wireless link.
Apple first introduced AirDrop with OS X 10.7 Lion in 2011. It then made its way to iOS devices. It is primarily used for transferring large files to nearby devices wirelessly. When Apple introduced AirDrop in iOS, it had to overhaul the whole technology and it started using Bluetooth for discovery and relied on Wi-Fi for large file transfers. It is the revamped version of the technology which patent troll Uniloc is targetting.
The patent troll is seeking an undisclosed amount in damages from Apple along with reimbursement of its legal fees. Uniloc had previously sued Apple over Apple Maps, Apple ID, AirPlay, Apple Watch, AirPlay, the Apple TV Remote app, and more. It has also used a number of patents reassigned to it to sue other tech giants like Microsoft, Sony, McAfee, Sega, and more.
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