Apple, AT&T sued over iPhone visual voicemail

Klausner Technologies, Inc. announced today that it has filed a patent lawsuit under its visual voicemail patents against Apple Inc. and AT&T Wireless regarding the iPhone, with damages and future royalties estimated at US$360 million (according to Klausner’s press release).

The lawsuit asserts that Apple’s iPhone Visual Voicemail and other visual voice messaging services implemented by ATT infringe upon Klausner Technologies’ U.S. Patents 5,572,576 and 5,283,818. These patents have already been licensed to various other companies that provide visual voicemail, including Time Warner’s AOL for its AOL Voicemail services, Vonage Holdings for its Vonage Voicemail Plus services as well as others, under the Klausner Patents.

Klausner Technologies was founded by Judah Klausner, the inventor of the PDA and electronic organizer. Apple’s original groundbreaking PDA, the Newton, was, in fact, covered under an OEM patent license granted by Judah Klausner over twenty years ago under his landmark US Patent 4,117,542.

The iPhone violates Klausner’s intellectual property rights by allowing users to selectively retrieve voice messages via the iPhone’s inbox display. Apple, in their marketing materials, has called iPhone’s Visual Voicemail “one of the greatest advances in the history of mankind … without question.”

The suit has been filed by the California law firm of Dovel & Luner in a federal court in the Eastern District of Texas. “We have litigated this patent successfully on two prior occasions,” said Greg Dovel of Dovel & Luner, counsel for Klausner Technologies, in the press release. “With the signing of each new licensee, we continue to receive further confirmation of the strength of our visual voicemail patents.”

Klausner Technologies owns U.S. and international patents covering visual voicemail products and services which allow users to selectively retrieve individual voice messages via their cell phones and PCs.

49 Comments

  1. That’s a pretty difficult patent for Klausner to prove. I think it falls in the realm of obvious technology.

    I mean who did not think of saving voicemail in a file. THis is like the digital voice memo recorders or like saving audio files on your computer… Apple did that since ever.
    Now if the method of saving the music is the same as Klausner (I highly doubt it) hten it’s anotehr story.

  2. Presumably this is a patent on the business model rather than the software which is not patentable anywhere outside the US. The business model patent fails the obvious test and you don’t even have to be skilled in the art.

  3. The only thing in this legal action that a jury ought to address is this:

    “Apple, in their marketing materials, has called iPhone’s Visual Voicemail “one of the greatest advances in the history of mankind … without question.”

    It would be very interesting to see that claim stand the test of mankind’s history.

  4. Like it was a surprise that they were going to use visual voice mail – they announced it from day one in January and now they come forward and sue. They should have made an injunction to have them not use it if they were concerned. Yeah wait until the phone is popular then sue – bunch of idiots..

  5. Y? Oh! Y? do we all have to be subjected to all this Bull Shit?

    If this patent truly does belong to them as they imply, why didn’t they raise their claim as soon as VVM was displayed In January?

    CISCO raised their claim upon the unvailing of the name “iphone”, they came to an agreement with Apple inc.

    What was preventing KT from raising an objection then? I certainly haven’t had the experience of being offered VVM on any electronic product PDA or not, I wouldn’t even call email on a PC VVM if that is what they are implying!!!!!

    Y? Oh Y??????

  6. Crabapple
    “What was preventing KT from raising an objection then?”
    Because they hoped the iPhone would sell a million. That takes a while. Now they want to license the patent for $36. per iPhone.

  7. @Pay Up

    You can’t steal an “idea,” sir or madam. You can steal only the implementation thereof, via code or mechanism. Otherwise, I would like to patent the idea of time travel right now. And turning lead into gold. And making things invisible. And reversing the aging process. And flying to the moon on gossamer wings.

    Grow up (and go to law school).

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