Apple has lost its bid to dismiss a former employee’s lawsuit over claims he invented services like Find My iPhone and Passbook but wasn’t included on patents subsequently filed by the tech giant, reports The Register.
Last year, Darren Eastman, who worked for Apple for nearly a decade after being hired by Steve Jobs in 2006, sued his former employee for failing to include his name as an inventor of five patent applications filed by the company, including the ideas behind the “Find My iPhone” and Apple’s Passbook technology.
He wants to be acknowledged as an inventor for five Apple patent applications, according to filings with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Eastman says his ideas were accepted and then employed by Apple in its products and filings, but without giving him credit
Find My iPhone is a default app currently included with iOS and it can be used for finding a lost iPhone and more. Passbook was the forerunner of the Wallet app in iOS.
In the latest recent legal proceedings, Apple asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit altogether, including a defamation allegation from Eastman, by claiming there was “prior art” on the patents, i.e. he hadn’t invented anything, that it had been first to actually use the concepts in the patents (“reduction to practice”), and that it has other patents that effectively invalidated his claims.
While the court didn’t rule on the actual merit of those claims, it dismissed Apple’s assertion that there wasn’t a case to answer. The Register says this may give some credence to Eastman’s case, which has been amended to include in-depth explanations of what he did and how his work directly connects to the patents themselves.
Eastman was fired in September 2014 for alleged unprofessional and inappropriate communications. He’s also suing Apple for unlawful termination. That lawsuit has been put on hold until the resolution of the current patent case.