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Apple sued by MemoryWeb over places and people tech in Photos app

MemoryWeb has asserted US Patent numbers 9,552,376, 10,423,658, 10,621,228, and 11,017, 020, “an IP clutch that details methods of organising photographs by tags and metadata for later recall”. MemoryWeb has asserted US Patent numbers 9,552,376, 10,423,658, 10,621,228, and 11,017, 020, “an IP clutch that details methods of organising photographs by tags and metadata for later recall”.
MemoryWeb has asserted US Patent numbers 9,552,376, 10,423,658, 10,621,228, and 11,017, 020, “an IP clutch that details methods of organising photographs by tags and metadata for later recall”. (MemoryWeb)

MemoryWeb has stated that Apple’s Photos infringe on patents covering how photos are organised and viewed based on people and locations.

A photo organiser app called MemoryWeb has sued Apple. The company claims that Apple’s Photos and its supporting services infringe on patents that cover how photo archives are viewed and organised based on location, people tagged in them, and other identifiers. MemoryWeb lodged the case at the US District Court in Texas on Tuesday and has alleged that Apple’s Photos app on iOS and macOS infringes on patents that “allow people to organise, view, preserve these files with all the memory details captures, connected and vivified via an interactive interface”.

MemoryWeb has asserted US Patent numbers 9,552,376, 10,423,658, 10,621,228, and 11,017, 020, “an IP clutch that details methods of organising photographs by tags and metadata for later recall”. These patents that MemoryWeb has listed were granted in 2017, 2019, 2020, and, “most recently” on May 26 this year.

The company has explained in the filing that “personal digital photography” has grown exponentially with the advent of smartphones and with hundreds and thousands of photos on a device, manually cataloging and sorting through them all is a lot of work. "Consumers seeking to find, view or display a particular photo within a vast library of photos would often need to search through large and complex interfaces by, for instance, scrolling through a photo library of thousands of pictures taken over months or years to find a particular photo from a particular time or event," the complaint reads.

Founders of MemoryWeb, who are also named as investors of those patents, also patented a system that organises photos using a “variety of intuitive views” like “Location view” and “People view”. Location view displays photo thumbnails on an interactive map and the “Multiple Location Application View” arranges photos in a grid. A similar grid view is also used to sort photos and show them according to who is in the photo. Intuitive views also include timeline and sort by date options.

Apple's Photos app comes with identical instrumentalities, as the complaint alleges. In macOS and iOS both, users can enter an interactive map view by browsing by location, and can search People albums. Apple introduced their geotagged photo collections along with a crude interactive map view with iOs 7 in 2013, borrowing from iMac’s iPhoto app.

Apple also allows users to search through photos by face. This uses automated facial recognition that’s powered by machine vision algorithms. This was introduced on Apple with iOS 10 in 2016. As AppleInsider points out, it is unclear if the same tech is applied to any MemoryWeb product. According to MemoryWeb, Apple has cited certain MemoryWeb patent application publications in the prosecution of its own photo management IP, even though by that time Apple had already introduced basic location-based browsing functionality in both iOS and Mac OS X. According to reports, plaintiffs are seeking damages and court fees.

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