Visual Interactive sues Apple, AT&T, US Cellular claiming patent infringement

“Visual Interactive Phone Concepts, Inc., a non-practicing entity that holds two videophone mailbox patents and has previously instigated patent infringement suits, filed three lawsuits in the Eastern District of Michigan on Wednesday: against Apple, AT&T (the largest landline telephony provider and owner of the second largest wireless telecommunications network in the United States), and US Cellular (the seventh largest mobile provider),” Florian Mueller reports for FOSS Patents.

“In all three complaints, Visual Interactive Phone Concepts asserts both patents it owns: U.S. Patent No. 5,606,361 and U.S. Patent No. 5,724,092, both of which are entitled ‘videophone interactive mailbox facility system and method of processing information,'” Mueller reports. “But the alleged infringements differ, which is presumably why the company filed three parallel suits instead of one multi-defendant complaint.”

Mueller reports, “Those patents were granted in 1997 and 1998. The applications were filed in 1995 and 1996. The patents don’t truly disclose an invention in terms of describing a technical solution in sufficient detail so that it could be implemented on that basis. Instead, they outline a concept at such a high level that it’s more of a vision than an invention. Those are examples of patents that claim a monopoly on the right to solve a problem rather than a monopoly on a particular solution. Unfortunately, the USPTO does consider them legitimate inventions and issued reexamination certificates in 2010, reaffirming the patents ‘with only minor amendments to the claims’ according to the patent holder’s representations in the latest complaints.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Another Irish Dude” for the heads up.]


  1. A patent granted for a vision?…

    Hold on, I’m headed to the patent office to patent everything I can possibly think up. Just so if something comes close in the future, I can sue and make a ton of money. Why actually work?

  2. I’m going to wait for a few more of these cases and hope that they win. Then I’ll go after them for violating my patent for ‘Suing successful companies for violating my vague and broad patents in order to sustain myself and my lazy, unproductive life style.’ I’ll take all of their court awarded funds! Excellent.

  3. The US patent Agency has been known to be broken for a fair while now with no movement to fix it. Companies are currently getting patent’s for potential ideas…no proof of concept, no data.
    Inventors hate this crap, companies dread it, it stifles innovation and the lawyers just LOVE it.

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