Apple’s FaceTime Infringing On A Chinese Engineer’s Patent?

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but there’s probably very good reason why Apple lost out in the Proview “iPad” lawsuit, in China, to a Chinese company. Let’s face it, if a company can sell an iMac rip-off, then sell the naming rights to Apple via a third party, and still force Cupertino to settle for $60 million a few years later, something’s going on.

Another patent shark suit is taking place as I type this. A Taiwan-based engineer, Mr. Lee, is probing the possibility that Apple infringed on his voice-over-internet “invention”. The case hasn’t quite made it to official court yet, but he is seeking advice from the Intermediate People’s Court in Zhenjiang.

Lee is a technian of a Taiwanese tech company, he needed to travel aboard to various cities for work, therefore he always made international call to his company, parents and friends. Due to this reason, Lee was inspired and came up with an idea of implementing internet call feature on phones. Subsequently, he applied a patent for this idea in 2003.

So, essentially, he claims to have invented a way to implement internet phone calls from mobile phones in 2003, the same year Skype was released for the first time. The trial is set to begin in the next month, if it gets to court.

One question is does bring to mind. How much of this is invention, and how much is technological evolution? Surely if more than one person can “come up with the idea” to start using the internet to transfer voice/video calls, it’s almost certainly something that’s the next logical step. Granted, the originator of the technology to achieve it should be granted a patent, but not one which excludes other companies from using their own version.

Before FaceTime there were hundreds of other ways to chat online, using a mobile or computer. To me it seems like someone having a dig at Apple because it’s Apple. You can guarantee that if the iPhone and iPad were not popular, this case wouldn’t exist.

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