updated 09:20 pm EDT, Fri April 12, 2013
Holder claims Wi-Fi violates patent originally granted to AT&T in 1996
Apple has once again attracted the ire of a non-practicing entity. Patent troll Wyncomm claims that Apple is violating a patent that AT&T developed (that Wyncomm now holds) regarding simultaneous voice and data transmission. Patent number 5,506,866 covers "Side-channel communications in simultaneous voice and data transmission," and was filed by AT&T in 1993, with a granting of the patent in 1996.
The filing was made by Wyncomm today in the Delaware courts, and accused Apple, Acer, Asustek, Blu Productsm, Bonac Innovation, and Casio of all violating the patent. Wyncomm claims that the companies are all infringing "by making, using, selling, importing and/or providing and causing to be used products that transmit information utilizing Wi-Fi, including information representative of analog data such as voice or sound including control data."
The '866 patent doesn't specifically address wireless data communication, and terminology and data rates specified by the patent are a product of the time of filing, with one part of the patent discussing switching modes when the data rate exceeds 4800 bits per second. The patent implementation section is not vague, and does cover a method to simultaneously move data and voice communications, but does not resemble modern IP networking or how AT&T currently carries voice and data streams simultaneously with an iPhone.
Wyncomm isn't seeking product injunctions. The company is seeking damages adequate to compensate Wyncomm for past infringement of the patent and possible continuation of present and future infringement. The patent expires in November of 2013.