U.S. District Judge William Alsup told Straight Path IP Group at a hearing Thursday that when the Federal Circuit saved its Internet telephone patents from “obliteration,” its decision narrowed the patents’ scope, and the company can’t now “wiggle out” of the appellate ruling, reports Law 360.
In June 2016, Straight Path Group, a subsidiary of fixed wireless spectrum leasing firm Straight Path Communications, sued Apple for patent violation, this one regarding VoIP. Straight Path is a non-practicing entity — in other words, a “patent troll.” A patent troll is an individual or an organization that purchases and holds patents for unscrupulous purposes such as stifling competition or launching patent infringement suits. In legal terms, a patent troll is a type of non-practicing entity: someone who holds a patent but is not involved in the design or manufacture of any product or process associated with that patent.
VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a method for taking analog audio signals, like the kind you hear when you talk on the phone, and turning them into digital data that can be transmitted over the Internet. It can turn a standard Internet connection into a way to place free phone calls.
Straight Path claimed Apple's FaceTime infringes on five patents previously owned by the NetSpeak Corp. regarding a product called WebPhone. The complaint is a renewal of Straight Path's 2014 case, which was dismissed without prejudice in 2015.
In October 2016, Apple asked a California federal judge to nix a suit alleging it induced infringement on five Straight Path IP Group software patents with its FaceTime video-call feature, arguing the amended complaint failed to prove Apple knew of Straight Path’s designs. The tech giant got its wish.