Apple sued for alleged patent infringement on Key Flicks and 3D Touch technologies

Another day, another lawsuit. Toshiyasu Abe, a resident of Vancouver, Washington, has filed a lawsuit against Apple in Oregon district court, accusing the company of infringing upon his patent (number 6,520,699) with Key Flicks and 3D Touch on select iPhone and iPad models, reports MacRumors

Key Flicks, introduced with iOS 11, is a keyboard feature designed to make typing faster when using the onscreen keyboard. 3D touch technology senses how deeply users press the display.

Here’s the summary of Abe’s patent (which includes lots of tech speak): “A user interface device for inputting and outputting information. The user interface device includes a plurality of keys slidably retained within a housing, each key being associated with a plurality of alphanumeric characters or functions. The keys are joined together to slide substantially in unison. 

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“The user interface device also includes a pressure sensor configured to detect pressure applied to one or more of the plurality of keys, a direction sensor configured to detect direction of motion of the plurality of keys, a selection component for selecting at least one of an alphanumeric character or function based on the sensed pressure and sensed direction of motion, and an output device for presenting the selected at least one alphanumeric character or function based on the sensed pressure and sensed direction of motion. The selected alphanumeric character or function is associated with the key where the pressure was sensed and with an associated direction closest to the sensed direction of motion. Each alphanumeric character and function associated with each key is further associated with a direction of motion of the plurality of keys.”

The allegedly infringing products include at least the following iPad and iPhone models sold in the U.S.: iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4, 9.7-inch iPad, 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. 

According to MacRumors, the complaint alleges that Apple has known of Abe's patent since at least as early as 2009, when he first gave written notice of its infringement. The plaintiff claims he exchanged a number of emails with Apple, and engaged in at least one phone call with the company's in-house counsel without reaching an agreement.