A suit was lodged against Apple by photo organiser app MemoryWeb alleging patent infringement. The case was lodged in US District Court in Texas on Tuesday (25/05/2021).
The petition alleges that the Apple Photos app’s feature of organising pictures according to the location from which they were taken and based the people in the picture infringes on several patents held by MemoryWeb. The photo organising feature is available on both iOS and macOS.
The petition describes the feature as one that "allows people to organise, view, preserve these files with all the memory details captures, connected and vivified via an interactive interface."
MemoryWeb listed its US patents with numbers 9,552,376, 10,423,658, 10, 621,228 and 11,017,020 as the ones that Apple infringes through its Photos app. These patents form part of a family which details a method of organising photos using tags and metadata for easy recall. The patents were granted to MemoryWeb in 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021.
The petitioners opine that their patented inventions are significant today as "personal digital photography" is booming, and it is difficult for users to organise their galleries manually. The petition states that:
“Consumers seeking to find, view or display a particular photo within a vast library of photos would often need to search through large and complex interfaces by, for instance, scrolling through a photo library of thousands of pictures taken over months or years to find a particular photo from a particular time or event."
MemoryWeb’s photo organising application includes an interactive map-based view that displays pictures according to the location where they were taken. The app also groups together and displays images having the same people in them. These features were introduced in Apple's iOS 10 in 2016.
It is alleged that Apple cited some of MemoryWeb’s patents in a previous IP infringement suit in which it was involved. However, it is unclear if Apple's photo organising feature works using the same technology patented by MemoryWeb.
The petition seeks damages and court fees.