Apple hit by patent suit over Passbook

Apple is in the middle of another lawsuit, this one over charges that its Passbook app violates several patents of software developer Ameranth.

(Credit: Apple)

In the court document, Ameranth, which sells software and services to the hospitality and gaming industry, claimed that Passbook violates four of its US patents: patent number 6,384,850, patent number 6,871,325, patent number 6,982,733 and patent number 8,146,077.

All four patents deal with the "Information management and synchronous communications system". As such, they cover the ability to synchronise data among wired, wireless and web-based systems for electronic menus and reservations for such businesses as restaurants.

Introduced in iOS 6, Apple's Passbook app lets users synchronise and save electronic copies of tickets, boarding passes, loyalty cards and coupons.

In its suit, Ameranth cited Passbook's ability to download and store "airline boarding passes, hotel reservations, movie tickets and event tickets", and claimed that Apple is aware of the patents allegedly being violated.

"One of the Ameranth patents-in-suit, US Patent No. 6,384,850 — the first patent issued in this Ameranth patent family — was cited as a prior art reference in two Apple iPhone patents issued to named inventors Bas Ording and Steven P Jobs," the company stated in its court filing. "Also, three of the patents in this Ameranth patent family have been asserted in several patent-enforcement actions against Apple business partners."

Ameranth said it's looking for triple the amount of damages that it has sustained as a result of Apple's infringement.

Ameranth is no stranger to the patent courts.

In July, the company filed patent lawsuits against several hotels, travel sites and ticketing companies, including Hilton, Marriott, Best Western, Travelocity, Kayak, Hotwire, Expedia, Orbitz, Ticketmaster, Stubhub and Fandango.

Ameranth's home page displays several of its patents and news briefs of recent patent agreements with other companies.

CNET contacted both Apple and Ameranth for comment, but had received no reply by the time of publishing.


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