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New patent lawsuit targets Apple A-series, M-series chips

Apple has been hit with a lawsuit claiming that its Apple Silicon iPhone and Mac chips infringe on patents owned by non-practicing entity Future Link Systems, LLC.

The complaint, lodged Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, alleges that Apple A-series and M-series chips directly infringe on claims in four patents focused on “improvements in electronic circuitry.” That includes the M1 and A14 Bionic.

According to the lawsuit, Future Link Systems penned a letter to Apple asserting the infringement in April 2018. Apple and Future Link met in May, and later that year, the Cupertino company presented non-infringement arguments to the patents. The plaintiff claims that even after continued back and forth correspondence Apple “refused to discuss appropriate terms for a license.”

The patents-in-suit are U.S. Patents Nos. 6,317,804, 6,622,108, 6,807,505, and 7,917,680. The lawsuit claims that all Apple devices that have an A-series or M-series processor, including the iPhone, Mac, and iPad, directly infringe on those patents.

Each patent focuses on a particular aspect of circuit design for electronic devices like computers or smartphones. The ‘804 patent, for example, focuses on a concurrent serial interconnect within an integrated circuit device. Two of the patents focus on interconnect test units for circuits, and the ‘680 patent details a communications arrangement for packet data control.

The complaint contends that Apple has knowledge of the patents and “has been willfully blind to its infringement.”

Apple isn’t the first major chipmaker that Future Link Systems has targeted. In 2017, Intel resolved a patent dispute with the non-practicing entity by agreeing to a confidential settlement. That patent lawsuit indicated that Intel owed about $10 billion in damages for allegedly infringing on Future Link’s intellectual property, while Intel put the price closer to $10 million, Law360 reported in August 2017.

The complaint against Apple, which seeks a jury trial, asks for a permanent injunction on Apple infringing on the patents. It also asks for damages, costs, and other expenses associated with the infringement, among other prayers for relief.


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