Israeli company sues Apple for dual lens camera patent infringement

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Israeli company Corephotonics filed a lawsuit against Apple yesterday, just as Apple was awarded $120 million by the Supreme Court after a prolonged battle with Samsung. Corephotonics, a maker of dual lens camera technology, claims that the cameras featured in the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 8 Plus infringe on four of its patents.

The Israeli company was founded in 2012 by Dr. David Medlovic, a Tel Aviv University professor and former chief scientist in the Israeli government. Corephotonics claims in the lawsuit that it reached out to Apple “as one of its first acts as a company” to establish a strategic partnership. The exchanges with the tech giant continued for a while but never resulted in a license agreement for Corephotonics’ dual lens technology.

The relationship between Apple and Corephotonics then turned sour, the lawsuit alleges. It states, “Apple’s lead negotiator expressed contempt for Corephotonics’ patents, telling Dr. Mendlovic and others that even if Apple infringed, it would take years and millions of dollars in litigation before Apple might have to pay something.” Following that exchange, in January 2016, Corephotonics learned that Apple would be introducing the iPhone 7 Plus that year with a dual-aperture camera.

As reported by MacRumors, Corephotonics named four patents it filed between 2012 and 2015 that it says Apple infringed: two patents on mini telephoto lens assembly, one patent on dual aperture zoom digital cameras, and one on high resolution thin multi-aperture imaging systems, which is essentially an umbrella term that covers what dual lens cameras are. The lawsuit highlights how Corephotonics’ dual aperture camera technology has two fixed-focal length lenses, including a wide angle and a telephoto lens, which is what Apple uses in its iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 8 Plus.

Somehow, consumers also got roped into the lawsuit. Since Apple is selling the products with “knowledge of or willful blindness” of the patents it’s allegedly infringing, the lawsuit claims that consumers who buy the iPhone 7 Plus and 8 Plus are infringing on the Corephotonics’ telephoto lens assembly patent as well.

The suit demands monetary compensation for the lawyers the Israeli firm has had to hire as well as additional damages. It is also calling for Apple to stop using dual-aperture cameras immediately. Curiously, the iPhone X is left out of the lawsuit though it also uses dual lens camera technology, possibly because the suit was prepared before Apple’s latest flagship phone reached physical stores in November.

We’ve reached out to Corephotonics and Apple for comment and will update if we hear back. You can read the full complaint below:

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