A Wyoming firm, WiNet Labs, is hitting Apple with a patent lawsuit for allegedly infringing on a network patent with its “Personal Hotspot” feature found on the iPhone and iPad.
The patent being sued over is No. 7,593,374, “Multi-to-multi point ad-hoc wireless data transfer protocol,” says the complaint which was submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Thursday.
The patent covers a method of setting up and managing an ad-hoc network between devices. The patent lays out steps for organizing multiple node within the network, which includes a coordinating node that WiNet claims is akin to a Wi-Fi-serving hotspot device.
The Wyoming company says the patent had been offered for sale to Apple in 2014, but the Cupertino firm ignored the offer.
WiNet is seeking a jury trial to be granted “a fair and reasonable royalty,” “treble damages,” and pre- and post-judgment interest “at the maximum rate allowed by law.”
The patent in question dates back to May 2005 and it was granted to a Chinese firm called M-LABS, Ltd. in August 2005. The Chinese company is now listed as a shared assignee.
The patent became available for license or sale in December 2009. WiLab and/or M-LABS were repeatedly late with maintenance fees however, to the point that the patent lapsed toward the end of 2017. Sometime after it appears to have been revived.
Both WiNet and M-LABS lack an online presence, indicate they are likely, say it with me, patent “trolls.”