Judge calls for settlement hearing in patent case involving ex-Apple engineer

Darren Eastman, a former Apple engineer who is suing the company for allegations that he was not properly credited on key patents related to the Find My and Passbook functionality, last week bolstered his case with additional evidence , which prompted the presiding judge to request a settlement conference.

The fourth amended complaint, filed with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in late April, relates to eight other patent claims in the pending case. In all, Eastman says it should be listed as an inventor or co-inventor on 16 Apple patents covering Find My iPhone and Passbook.

In a statement to the Register, Eastman said it discovered the new patents during a visit to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The former employee said he had tried to negotiate his inclusion on the new patent clutch but had been refused by Apple, which claims it had no direct interaction with the group listed as co-inventors, according to the report.

Eastman, who represents himself in the legal battle, argued similar patent law violations in the original complaint. Filed in 2018, the lawsuit alleges that Apple knowingly omitted the name Eastman from patents detailing the Passbook (now Wallet) and four patents protecting Find My iPhone. Other intellectual property claims have accumulated in subsequent modifications.

“The method of finding a lost device would not exist today if I had not invented it, and Passbook basically builds on my previous invention to exchange electronic tickets with a barcode,” said Eastman in a press release in the Register.

Apple has successfully dismissed several times, although a third amended complaint remained in place last August. The company has repeatedly argued for the Eastman case to be dismissed, arguing that its work was state of the art or only covered part of a leveraged patent. In addition, Apple submits that Eastman has not alleged that its invention notes were shared with the company or the inventors cited.

Eastman also alleges an improper termination following attempts to convince a manager to correct a flaw in Disk Utility before the release of OS X Yosemite. The company has classified the engineer’s communication as unprofessional and inappropriate.

Presiding judge Jon S. Tigar last week ordered the parties to speak to an investigating judge for settlement talks. If no amicable solution is found, the case will go to court in June.

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