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Apple sued by patent holder Brandywine over voicemail


It's tough when you're at the top of your game, because everybody wants to shoot you down. A new lawsuit against Apple by Brandywine Communications Technologies claims that our buddies in Cupertino are infringing on two patents that vaguely describe mobile voicemail.

And who is Brandywine? If your answer includes the words "patent troll," you may already be a winner. Brandywine Communications Technologies is a firm that Verizon -- in a lawsuit against the company -- called "a patent holding company that is in the business of enforcing patent rights through the filing of various lawsuits." In other words, a patent troll.

The two patents that Brandywine is suing over are No. 6,236,717 and No. 5,719,922, both of which cover a "simultaneous voice/data answering machine." Not vague enough for you? Here's the description from the patent filings: "A simultaneous voice and data modem coordinates the storage of voice messages and data messages on an audio answering machine and a personal computer, respectively. This allows the called party to subsequently retrieve, via the simultaneous voice and data modem, both a voice message and an associated data message, i.e., a multimedia message, where the called party listens to the voice message while viewing the data message. The called party can retrieve the multimedia message either locally or from a remote location."

Sounds just like Visual Voicemail on the iPhone, doesn't it?

Along with Lodsys and NTP, Brandywine appears to be working on the assumption that it's easier to make money by filing lawsuits than by actually creating something of value. Apple has not commented on this latest lawsuit.

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