Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) developed a video-conference app called FaceTime for its mobile devices, and it has been very popular for many iPhone and iPad users, so much so that some wireless carriers have been restricting use of the app without customers subscribing to certain data plans. But although the service has been available for some time, apparently there is a claim that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is once again not an innovator, but a patent infringer. Is this going to be something new to affect investors’ perspective about Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) moving forward? Will investors like billionaire fund manager David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital blow this off as just another intellectual-property suit that my not have teeth?
The latest legal move involving Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) now comes from a firm called Intercarrier Communications, which filed suit in federal court in Virginia claiming that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) infringed on a patent that allows for instant messaging across varying mobile platforms and between customers of different wireless carriers. In effect, ICC is suing Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) on the grounds that in order for FaceTime to work on iOS devices between customers of, say, AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) and Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S), the devices necessarily use ICC’s patented technology.
There is a report that ICC has sued several other companies in the past, over similar patent issues. ICC is seeking damages for the uses of the patent in the utilization of FaceTime on various Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) devices. There is no report yet as to if this suit will even be heard, or when an initial hearing date will be held, but it may be months.