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New suits claim that Apple's iPhone is bursting at the seams with infringement.  (Source: Apple)
Apple is slammed with three separate patent claims

Google's CEO Eric Schmidt once famously said, "We get sued every day."  If Apple, known for pursuing a bit of litigation of its own, plans on continuing to make the iPhone, it might consider adopting such a motto.

While Apple's iPhone is a veritable commercial success, it has been a thorny legal challenge for Apple.  From users angry about its controlling tactics, to intellectual property holders suing over the phone's features the iPhone has not taken the easy road when it comes to litigation. 

Apple has just been hit by not one, but three patent suits from different firms.  The first comes from Affinity Lab of Texas (not related to the Monster Subsidiary, Affinity Labs), which claims that Apple violated three of its patents.  The first is a patent on sending music wirelessly to portable devices.  The next patent is on using wireless connections or cellular services to stream, browse, and/or download content.  The final patent is on docking a hardware device to send music to it -- which Affinity Lab of Texas claims the iPod Touch and iPhone violate.

The patents in question were granted March 2007, October 2008, and February 2009, respectively. 

The second company Accolade Systems does not sue Apple directly, but sues the companies that make its camera sensor chips -- Aptina Imaging and Micro.  Accolade holds a patent on "detecting a camera's sensor intensity saturation by producing three CMOS image sensors".  Basically, that's exactly what the iPhone CMOS chip does as it carries extra CMOS sensors to act as an image saturator.

The final suit comes from Swiss company MONEC Holding Ltd.  MONEC claims to hold the patent to an "electronic device, preferably an electronic book" -- which it says the iPhone falls under, thanks to its Amazon Kindle eBook reader app.  While MONEC's claims at first glance might seem tenuous, it has already scored a recent victory over HP, settling out of court in a suit over the HP Compaq 2710p Notebook PC that had a similar eBook reader application built in.

MONEC's humorously vague patent includes protection for "receiving and sending signals by way of a radio network [in a way that] allows the exchange of electronic data, such as, for example, E-mails, faxes, data from the Internet, or the like."

MONEC has thus far not pursued litigation against Amazon's Kindle or Sony Reader, products that would seem equally in violation, based on its claims.  Discovery Communications owns a similar patent and has sued Amazon.  It is unclear which if either patent Apple is guilty of infringing, but MONEC is confident that its patent covers the iPhone's eBook expertise.

As the vultures circle Apple's chic iPhone, Apple is left to try to fend them off as best it can.  Is the iPhone built on a foundation of infringement or are these patent owners playing the opportunist?  Only the courts or perhaps a closed-door legal settlement will decide.





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