Patent trollin': Apple sued over iOS 11’s ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature

Another day, another lawsuit. Apple has been sued by SMTM Technology, widely regarded as a “patent troll,” for allegedly infringing on a patent with its “Do Not Disturb” iOS feature, as reported by AppleInsider. With the feature, iOS 11 can “sense” when you might be driving and help keep you from being distracted by calls, texts, and notifications. 

SMTM’s lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Tuesday, claims Apple's feature borrows aspects from the patent "Mobile Device Inactive Mode and Inactive Mode Verification," granted to inventor Nick Bovis in February 2015 following a 2014 application. SMTM later acquired the patent from Bovis, which is now being used against Apple. 

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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.

Lawsuit or not, the iPhone’s “Do Not Disturb While Driving" feature designed to reduce distracted driving is working. Everquote found that 70% of people in its study kept the DND While Driving feature turned on after Apple released it last September. And between September 19 and October 25 last year, people with DND on used their phones 8% less, according to the study.

To enable “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature on your iPhone, go to Settings › Do Not Disturb, then tap Activate under the Do Not Disturb While Driving heading. Or add it to Control Center for quicker access.