A new lawsuit has been filed against Apple in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The Plaintiffs are Yanbin Yu and Zhongxuan Zhang who claim that the dual camera setup found in iPhone 7 Plus and newer models infringe on a patent that was granted to the duo in 2003, based on an invention from 1999. This is the second lawsuit against Apple for its dual camera setup.
The patent in question here describes methods for capturing multiple images using multiple lenses and sensor arrays. The patent focuses on a four-camera setup that captures images on monochrome sensors and merges them into a single colour image. According to the lawsuit Apple was aware of the existing patent as early as 2011. The patent also includes a dual sensor-lens setup, both of which shoot in RGB to produce a final image. The specific language in the patent reads
“An improved digital camera comprising: a first and a second image sensor closely positioned with respect to a common plane, said second image sensor sensitive to a full region of visible color spectrum; two lenses, each being mounted in front of one of said two image sensors; said first image sensor producing a first image and said second image sensor producing a second image; an analog-to-digital converting circuitry coupled to said first and said second image sensor and digitizing said first and said second intensity images to produce correspondingly a first digital image and a second digital image; an image memory, coupled to said analog-to-digital converting circuitry, for storing said first digital image and said second digital image; and a digital image processor, coupled to said image memory and receiving said first digital image and said second digital image, producing a resultant digital image from said first digital image enhanced with said second digital image.”
Patents are a tricky thing as they generally tend to be as vague in their language as possible, so as to cover as many scenarios as possible. The plaintiffs claim that Apple continued to develop and market its dual camera technology despite being aware of the patent held by them. The plaintiffs also claim that Apple did not seek to license the patent, despite being aware that the company’s product was infringing on an existing patent.