Court backs ex-Apple engineer who says he was left off inventors’ list

Luke Dormehl for Cult of Mac:

The ex-Apple engineer who claims he helped invent “Find My iPhone” and other features has beaten Apple in a preliminary court hearing.

Apple lost its bid to dismiss the former employee’s lawsuit earlier this week. The suit claims Apple left him off a list of five patents on which he was a rightful co-inventor. Along with “Find My iPhone,” Darren Eastman also notably worked on Passbook, the electronic ticketing system.

Kieren McCarthy for The Register:

While the court didn’t rule on the actual merit of those claims – that is what the requested jury trial would have to figure out – it dismissed Apple’s assertion that there wasn’t a case to answer. This may give some credence to Eastman’s case, which has been amended to include in-depth explanations of what he did and how his work directly connects to the patents themselves.

The court is clearly sympathetic to Eastman’s case, making several jabs at Apple’s case including admonishing it at one point for ignoring a key legal case that made the opposite case to Apple’s argument.

As for Eastman, he claims to have been contacted by a number of former and current Apple employees who say the same thing happened to them: the corporate giant patented their work without giving due credit.

MacDailyNews Take: If Eastman deserves to be on the patents, he should be added to them. Let a court of law decide.

13 Comments

    1. Are you implying that an employee should have no recourse against such wrongdoing by his former employer? Why?

      Of course there are frivolous lawsuits but that only reminds us how stupid and greedy a few humans are, and how continued legal reforms are needed. (That’s REGULATION, righties.)

      The vast majority of litigation is done as a last resort, with legitimate cause.

      1. When you work for a company and everything is payed and supplied by them you are owned by them, how many pieces of paper did he sign to work for Apple. If you are a inventor do not work for a company it never ends well for you…..

          1. Even if there’s a clause about this in Eastman’s employment contract, Apple still has to name all actual inventors. The rule is up to USPTO Rules and Laws, not Apple or Eastman.

  1. Actually, no surprise in America that politics plays a role in whom is credited in patents (and etc) and whom is left out. This case might have merit. Let the jury of peers decide. Apparnently either there was no internal Apple way to address the issue or they refused to proceed or ruled against him. Nothing surprises in corporate America.

  2. What’s in this, to deny an employee, credit? I can understand an employee wanting recognition, but can’t understand the gain or loss on the part of Apple. They own the work already. It’s not like a bonus is on the line or anything.

    1. Actually Apple does pay employees (and even ex-employees) a bonus for granted patents. But the amount is negligible compared to the legal cost of fighting this, or to the PR cost of being jerks to their own employees.

      1. Something is amiss here. I can’t imagine that it’s corporate policy to behave this way. There might be a disgruntled manager/vp or even employee, vs a general plan to short the brain trust.

        Regarding this specific lawsuit and ex-employee. He pissed someone off.

        There’s a saying. If you want to get something done, sometimes it better to let someone else take credit for it.

        Mission before glory.

  3. What “relief” is the guy looking for? Does he just want his name on the patent to satisfy his ego? Maybe Apple can provide an addendum to the patent adding his name.

    In terms of cash I’ll bet that Apple has already paid out what they consider a reasonable amount – like his salary, bonuses and all the various perks, What else would he be entitled to? And is that worth the high legal fee he will be facing if his attorneys are not working on a commission.

    A waste of time IMHO

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