Patent-holding company sues Apple over NFC technologies

Apple NFC iphones and a Apple Watch
IP ISSUES: Aire Technology is seeking damages for Apple’s alleged infringement of three patents

Ireland-based patent-holding company Aire Technology has filed a lawsuit against Apple over alleged infringement of patents relating to NFC and digital wallet technologies with the US District Court for the Western District of Texas.

The lawsuit asserts that Apple products including iPhone and Apple Watch “that support NFC and/or mobile payment applications, such as Apple Pay […] infringe at least one claim” of three US patents originally granted to Giesecke+Devrient for technologies that support processes for contactless communication between NFC devices and user authorisation.

As “sole owner by assignment of all rights, title, and interest in the asserted patents” and plaintiff in the case, Aire Technology is seeking “damages (past, present, and future), costs, expenses, and pre-judgment and post-judgement interest for Apple’s infringement” of the three patents and is also requesting “a trial by jury of any issues so triable by right”.

The asserted patents are for a ‘Data storage medium and method for contactless communication between the data storage medium and a reader’ (patent no 8,581,706); a ‘Method for carrying for carrying out secure electronic transaction using a portable data support’ (patent no 8,205,249); and a ‘Communication apparatus for setting up a data connection between intelligent devices’ (patent no 8,174,360).

Reports that the European Commission is preparing to file an antitrust charge against Apple over the company’s limitation of access to its NFC chip technology emerged earlier this month.

An Australian parliamentary committee held a public hearing on issues including whether companies such as Apple should be mandated to allow third-party payment apps access to a smartphone’s NFC chip in July.

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