Apple Inc. Sued For Allegedly Copying A Feature For Use In The Apple TV

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Apple sued again, this time by a Florida-based company, who is accusing the company of copying its movie companion software. If you are a company as big as Apple, you can always expect a few patent-related cases every now and then.

Apple sued for copying One Screen’s ‘What’

The feature in question is the one that allows Apple users to ask Siri, “What did he say?” This feature help users of the fourth-generation Apple TV to re-watch a portion of the video with closed captioning. The feature replays the past 10-15 seconds of the play or movie to help users catch something they have missed.

However, Max Abecassis of CustomPlay claims that Apple copied their feature. According to Abecassis, he filed the patent for the feature back in 1998 and was granted it in 2002, notes MacRumors.

CustomPlay, a company in the business of marketing of movie player and movie enhancement applications, writes in its patent about functionality it calls “One Screen.” This feature provides users with textual information, plot info, scene locations, music, cast info and lots more when a clip is replayed. One Screen is currently listed as coming soon on CustomPlay’s website.

One Screen also includes a feature called “What,” which allows users to rewind a movie to a particular point, and then it resumes playing with subtitles.

“The What? function rewinds the movie a user-defined amount of time, e.g. 20 seconds, and continues playback with the subtitles automatically enabled only during the replayed portion,” reads the description of the function on CustomPlay’s website.

Further, the company claims that the ability to skip ahead in a movie on the user’s request is also a patent infringement.

Was Apple aware of CustomPlay’s patent?

According to documents obtained by MacRumors that CustomPlay filed with the court, the company even approached Apple with the proposal of licensing its technology nearly a year before the Cupertino-based tech giant unveiled its fourth-generation Apple TV. Further, in July 2014, CustomPlay sent letters and an accompanying nine-minute video to the iPhone maker explaining the workings of its in-video enhancements, of which the “What” function was one.

However, Apple didn’t respond to any of them. CustomPlay believes that Apple was aware of its patented feature, even though it implemented the feature without seeking a license. In the complaint filed on Thursday with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the company is seeking damages and legal costs. Apple has yet to respond to the lawsuit, and the case has yet to be assigned to a judge.

CustomPlay has developed several apps for iOS, including Popcorn Trivia and CustomPlay, and the “What” feature is used in both of them, notes 9to5mac. According to CustomPlay’s website, it is affiliated with Nissim Corporation, which is also owned by Abecassis. Last year, Nissim and Apple reached an unknown settlement over seven patents related to DVD specifications.

This lawsuit marks even more legal proceedings with Apple’s involvement. Earlier this year, Apple sued Qualcomm for practicing unfair trade policies.

In pre-market trading today, Apple shares were in the red. Year to date, the stock is up almost 30%, while in the last year, it is up almost 53%.

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