Apple haptic technology under scrutiny after lawsuit

15 Feb 2016

Apple has once again found itself on the end of a lawsuit over another company’s claim that it infringed its patent design for much of its haptic feedback technologies like 3D Touch and Force Touch.

In the last few weeks alone, Apple found itself on the end of a $625m patent infringement payout originally argued by a company called VirnetX about its VPN technology.

Now, according to Mac Rumours, Apple has once again found itself being challenged over its range of haptic response technology found in its iPhone 6 and above, as well as the Apple Watch.

The lawsuit is being filed by a company called Immersion, which has cited technologies like its Force Touch, 3D Touch and Apple Watch Taptic engine, all the way down to its vibration patterns, ringtones and notifications.

All of these infringements, Immersion says, relate to two of its patents filed, in particular, those being ones entitled “Haptic Feedback System with Stored Effects” and “Method and Apparatus for Providing Tactile Sensations”.

AT&T also under fire

However, the lawsuit expands to three patent infringements when looking specifically at the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, which allegedly infringe on Immersion’s patent entitled “Interactivity Model for Shared Feedback on Mobile Devices”.

Somewhat peculiarly, for this lawsuit, Immersion also cites AT&T on the end of the court filing due to the accuser’s claim that it had facilitated the sale of patent-infringing products.

In a statement, Immersion’s CEO Victor Viegas said: “While we are pleased to see others in the industry recognise the value of haptics and adopt it in their products, it is important for us to protect our business against infringement of our intellectual property in order to preserve the ecosystem we have built and the investments that we have made in continuing to advance haptic experiences.

“We will vigorously defend the intellectual property we have developed when it is infringed.”

Apple 3D Touch image via A. Aleksandravicius/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic