US Court Says Apple’s iPhone Infringes MobileMedia Patents on Screen Rotation

Bloomberg News dropped a bombshell today on Twitter, saying a US court has found that Apple’s iPhone infringes three MobileMedia patents related to automatic screen rotation.

Apple iPhone 5
While Mobile Media isn’t a practicing entity, it is owned by Sony, Nokia and MPEG LA, and the core of the patent infringement filing was Sony-owned US Patent No. 6,441,828 for an “Image display apparatus”, which was filed by Sony back in 1999.

As Bloomberg informs, the ruling was pronounced in the US District Court in the District of Delaware on Thursday. Apple tried to fend off patent infringement claims, citing prior art last month, but Judge Sue Robinson rejected the request.

“We’re very pleased,” MobileMedia Chief Executive Officer Larry Horn said in a post-trial courtroom interview Bloomberg writes. “We think it’s justified.” U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson hasn’t yet scheduled a trial on damages, which Horn said could be “substantial.”

According to MobileMedia’s website, the company owns

“more than 300 patents worldwide that are important to those mobile device companies incorporating in their products innovations such as call handling, speed dial functions, database searches, audio download and playback, and still picture and video processing.”

The heart patent infringement claims the ‘828 patent abstract reads as follows:

“In an image display apparatus, information on a direction in which an image is to be displayed on a display panel is recorded in a memory card, and a to-be-displayed image signal corresponding to the displaying-direction information read from the memory card is displayed on the display panel. The displaying-direction information relates to a direction in which the image is to be displayed on the display panel. More particularly, it is information indicative of a direction designated by the user of the apparatus pressing a rotate button on an operation panel and in which image information initially read from the memory card is displayed on the display panel. Pressing the rotate button a maximum of three times for one image will rotate the image clockwise, for example, whereby it is possible to designate a desired direction in which the image is to be displayed. Thus an image can be displayed in a correct direction even with no designation for an image’s normal direction regardless of whether the image display apparatus itself is placed with the shorter or longer side down.”

While the iPhone infringing three MobileMedia patents is bad news for Apple, the ruling eased from the plaintiff’s original allegation, which claimed Apple’s products violate 18 patents owned by the company.