An Australian patent holding company is seeking damages in a sweeping patent infringement lawsuit filed against Apple. The allegations specifically concern Apple’s use of Face and Touch ID, as well as the Apple Card.
The plaintiff in the suit is CPC Patent Technologies, which is itself a subsidiary of the Charter Pacific Corporation. The three patents in question date back to 2003 and 2005, though CPC did not come up with them. Instead, CPC acquired the patents during the 2019 liquidation of Securicom, seemingly for the express purpose of using them against Apple in a patent infringement lawsuit. Several critics described CPC as a patent troll, since the company does not seem to have any intention of using the patents in its own products.
CPC first filed a notice of infringement back in March of 2020, and moved forward with legal action after Apple declined to pay for a license. In that regard, it is worth noting that all three patents are extremely broad. Two of the patents cover any authentication method that retrieves biometric data from a remote database to verify the identity of someone trying to gain access to a computer system. That describes every iPad or iPhone device that refers to the Apple Secure Enclave when performing a Face ID or Touch ID match, with CPC listing flagship products like the iPhone X, the iPad Pro, and the iPhone SE as some of the offenders.
The third patent, on the other hand, describes a card reader and credential storage system that is protected with biometric technology. CPC claims that the Apple Card violates its third patent.
CPC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court of the Western District of Texas, and is seeking an injunction and legal fees in addition to damages. However, Apple does hold multiple patents for its Touch ID and Face ID technology, including several that have been granted in the past year alone. With that in mind, it is not yet clear how the case will play out, and what actions Apple may or may not need to take as a result.
February 26, 2021 – by Eric Weiss