Apple gets sued for patent infringement dozens of times each year, mostly by little-known shell companies with no products—the types of companies often derided as “patent trolls.” But the newest lawsuit seeking royalty payments from iPad sales is likely a first: the recently-created plaintiff, MEC Resources LLC, is wholly owned by a Native American tribe.
The case had a typical beginning.
In March, a Texas company named Prowire LLC filed a lawsuit (PDF) against Apple in Delaware federal court, claiming that the iPad 4 infringes its US Patent No. 6,137,390.
Apple asked the judge to transfer the case to California. Prowire lawyers opposed that motion, but they didn’t hang around to see the litigation through. In August, they informed the court that the patent had been handed off to MEC Resources LLC, a North Dakota firm.
Shortly thereafter, the Delaware judge granted a transfer to California, noting that MEC is a “North Dakota citizen,” and that keeping Apple in Delaware’s overcrowded courts made little sense.
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