The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) said monday it is investigating several technology companies, including Apple, for patent infringements on smartphones, computers and other devices that own touch screens. The incident began more than a month ago when Neodron, an Irish shell company, filed a complaint with the ITC under Section 337, alleging that Apple, Amazon and other technology companies had infringed four of its touch screen patents.
Neodron is a shell company founded in Ireland in late 2018, but has been filing patent infringement lawsuits against a number of technology companies. In February, the company sued Apple for products such as the iPhone 11 and the third-generation iPad Pro, infringing four patents it owns related to capacitive keyboards and sensors. Other defendants include Amazon, Asus, LG, Microsoft, Sony and Samsung.
Neodron’s two patents, which relate to the capabilities of the capacitive keyboard, were registered in October 2010 and March 2011, respectively, for Apple’s iPhone 11.
Two other patents related to proximity and touch sensors were filed with the U.S. Patent Office in June 2014 and June 2016, respectively, and Apple’s iPhone 11 and third-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro were allegedly infringing.
In 2019, Neodron claimed that several well-known consumer electronics companies had infringed several of their patents, and that Amazon, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Samsung had all been targeted.
Such lawsuits often use patent delays for profit, often buying cheap patents in bulk and then launching rogue lawsuits against big companies when there are huge profits.
The Washington Post points out that if Neodron wins the 2019 lawsuit, it will be able to apply to ban 80 percent of Android tablets and 97 percent of Android smartphone sales, even if the defense is unwilling to pay.
However, Neodron’s wave of patent sticks was originally bought from Amtel Corporation, which was acquired by Microchip Technology in 2016.