This article was published on August 8, 2011

Apple sued by Calibrait for infringing accelerometer-based alignment patents

Apple sued by Calibrait for infringing accelerometer-based alignment patents
Matthew Panzarino
Story by

Matthew Panzarino

Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter. Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter.

Apple is being sued by Calibrait LLC for infringing on an ‘electronic alignment system’ patent that seems to is related to how iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices use their built-in accelerometers to perform a calibration in the field. Calibrait is a California based company that has its headquarters in San Diego.

The suit references Apple’s iPad, iPad2, iPhone 2G, iPhone 3G and 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPod Touch products. The specific procedures mentioned in the suit refer to the way that iPhone and iPad devices calibrate accelerometers in the field. An example of this is the way that the iPhone calibrates its internal compass.

The language used it item 11 of the suit also makes it clear that Calibrait is going after Apple for offering this alignment procedure as a part of the APIs it makes available to developers and alleges that apple should have known that offering it would have induced additional infringement of the patent when they incorporated this feature.

Apple has also indirectly infringed and continues to indirectly infringe the ‘565 Patent by actively inducing direct infringement by other personswho operate methods and systems that embody or otherwise practice one or more of theclaims of the ‘565 Patent

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Calibrait calls for Apple to cease infringing on its patent and seeks damages incurred due to Apple’s infringement.

A search for Calibrait returns little results beyond the filing of this suit. This may be the second incidence we’ve seen to day of a larger firm using a shell company to file a suit against Apple. A small, previously unknown, company called Operating System Solutions has also filed suit against Apple for infringing on a fast-boot patent that was originally licensed to electronics giant and Android tablet maker LG. There has been some speculation that this is an attempt to gain leverage against Apple, who is in the process of pursuing Samsung and HTC for violating hardware patents, as well as software patents that may affect any device running Google’s Android OS.

The patent referred to in the suit is U.S. Patent #7,447,565 which is entitled ‘Electronic Alignment System and refers to the use of several accelerometers to perform alignment procedures. This refers to the way that gyroscopes work, but also the way that iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices determine their calibration on-device.

An electronic alignment system is disclosed. The system has at least two accelerometers, mounted in the device in such a manner that the accelerometers are mutually perpendicular to one another. An electrical connection electrically connects the accelerometers, a computing and processing device, a memory device, a feedback device, and a power source. A three axis reference frame is used as a basis for determining the angle of rotation of the device about an axis. Two accelerometers are required to determine a first angle of rotation. Adding a third accelerometer allows for the calculation of a second angle of rotation. Distance sensors can determine distance to a work piece, how far the device has traveled relative to a work piece, areas and volumes, and a third angle of rotation. Gyroscopes can also determine a third angle of rotation. The device may also include light projectors.

From the graphic below, you can see how the alignment procedure is detailed by the patent. It breaks it down step-by-step, but if you take it in its entirety it basically describes the process used to calibrate the internal accelerometers in many third-party apps as well as Apple’s included Compass app.

The full complaint can be read here:


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