Israeli start-up says Apple copied its patented smartphone camera technology

The Apple Inc. store is seen on the day of the new iPhone 7 smartphone launch in Los Angeles
The Apple Inc. store is seen on the day of the new iPhone 7 smartphone launch in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 16, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

November 7, 2017

By Jan Wolfe

(Reuters) – An Israeli startup has sued Apple Inc, accusing the iPhone maker of copying its patented smartphone camera technology.

Tel Aviv-based Corephotonics Ltd filed its patent infringement case against Apple in federal court in San Jose, California, on Monday.

Corephotonics, which has raised $50 million from several high-profile venture capital firms and other investors, said its patented dual camera technology for mobile devices was incorporated by Apple in the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 8 Plus without its authorization.

According to the lawsuit, Corephotonics Chief Executive David Mendlovic approached Apple about a partnership. Apple praised the start-up’s technology but refused to license it, Corephotonics said, even suggesting it could infringe the latter’s patents with little consequence.

According to the complaint, “Apple’s lead negotiator expressed contempt for Corephotonics’ patents, telling Dr. Mendlovic and others that even if Apple infringed, it would take years and millions of dollars in litigation before Apple might have to pay something.”

An Apple spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.

Many high-end smartphones include dual camera systems that can zoom in without losing image quality. Apple has its own patents on dual camera technology.

Through its latest funding round in January, Corephotonics raised $15 million from investors that included Samsung Ventures, electronics manufacturer Foxconn and chipmaker MediaTek Inc.

Foxconn is one of Apple’s contract manufacturers. Apple is considering MediaTek as a chip supplier, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Corephotonics’ other investors include Magma VC, Amiti Ventures, Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing and Solina Chau’s Horizon Ventures, as well as flash storage maker SanDisk and Chinese telephone services provider CK Telecom.

Corephotonics is represented by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, the law firm that advised Samsung Electronics Co on its patent litigation with Apple.

(This version of the story corrects ninth paragraph to clarify that MediaTek is not a current Apple supplier)

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Dan Grebler)

  • looneytoonsindville

    This is not only the bullying way of big business and the elites (stonewall and threaten years of expensive litigation), it is the technique used by our federal government against the citizenry. The feds have access to billions in taxpayer money and they throw it around with little accountability! It should be ILLEGAL! In our “We The People” society, in any federal lawsuit the feds should be limited to spending 10% of the net worth of the citizens involved, which is about the most that any individual could afford to spend on legal representation!

  • Tom

    Honestly I have no idea why people pay a grand or more for a phone without much storage. You can’t put an external memory card in a apple so you have to pay a premium price if you want any storage space. You can save your junk on their cloud but that uses data. My android does everything an apple does and I can put an additional 256Gb for less than $100. My battery lasts longer and the phone costs less. Apple hardware is quality stuff but if you really get into it you will see it’s clever programming hides the reason it works so smoothly. Run the same game on an Apple and a Android side by side look closely and you can see the apple omits details in the graphics. Apple is quality hardware but so is Samsung, Google and a number of other companies equipment. The real difference is the price and Apple’s insistence on locking it’s users into everything Apple. Apple is all about marketing and they do it well.

  • Tom

    Apple has done this in the past. And then they pay off in the end. What are they going to do? Have all those phones redesigned and exchanged? Cheaper to lawyer up and then pay out.

  • semperfipar

    Digital cameras are not their idea anyway so they will have no standing. This sounds like a money making scam to manipulate the market value of tech stock.

  • Wolfman (kafir harbi)

    Apple sucks. Over rated junk.

  • No Mas

    You should be able to prove it then you can get rich just off the APPLE THEFT!!!