Apple Pay with Touch ID is in the crosshairs of a new patent lawsuit

As my vacationing blog partner Dennis Sellers would say, "another day, another lawsuit." Today's lawsuit against Apple is from the trollishly named Pen-One Acquisition Group, which says that Apple infringed its patent titled "Pen-based transponder identity verification system." The patent describes a point of sale system using a stylus or fingerprint signature, and Pen-One Acquisition Group says that any Apple device using Touch ID to make a purchase infringes on its patent.

The complaint covers the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone SE, iPad, iPad mini and iPad Pro, all of which have Touch ID authentication and can be used to make purchases with Apple Pay. 

The abstract for the patent in question says "This pen-based, identity verification uses biometric technology. For use in commercial transactions at a point-of-sate terminal, a customer registers advising the system of a customer account that is to be used for payment. The customer also submits a digital signature for reference purposes--a fingerprint. The customer is then issued a transponder that links the customer to the customer account and to the reference digital signature."

  • A fingerprint? Check.
  • Pen-based identity verification? Nope
  • Customer is issued a transponder? Nope

Sure, we're not lawyers here at AWT, but some of the legalese in the case filing looks suspect. They're talking about a "pen-based computing device for entry of secure data into a secure network" -- only an Apple Pencil-equipped iPad Pro would fit the bill here -- and the device having a "facial image sensor for capturing a facial image print...for purposes of identity authentication." Yes, Apple devices have cameras, but they're not used for identity authentication.

Samsung was also sued at the same time, likely for Samsung Pay. Oddly enough, the case was filed in the Alabama Southern District Court instead of the usual patent troll domain of East Texas.