Apple Sued for Infringement of Biometric Technology Patents via Face ID Feature

On Tuesday, plaintiff CPC Patent Technologies Pty Ltd. (CPC), “an investment company focused on biometric technology,” filed a complaint against Apple in the Western District of Texas for patent infringement, alleging that Apple infringed the patents-in-suit.

The patents-in-suit are United States Patent Nos. 9,269,208 (the ’208 patent), 9,665,705 (the ’705 patent), and 8,620,039 (the ’039 patent). According to the complaint, the “products accused of infringing the ’208 Patent and the ’705 Patent include iPhones and iPads equipped with Touch or Face ID (‘the Secure Access Accused Products’)” and the “products accused of infringing the ’039 Patent include the Secure Access Accused Products equipped with Apple Card loaded into the iPhone Wallet (‘the Secure Pay Accused Products’).” Collectively, Apple’s purportedly infringing products are called the Accused Products.

The plaintiff claimed that the ’208 and ’705 patents “provide for enrollment in a biometric security system where the user’s biometric data is stored securely. Once the user’s biometric data is secure in an electronic device (e.g., a smartphone), the biometric data can be used to unlock the electronic device.” Meanwhile, the ’039 patent, according to the plaintiff, is “directed to improved smart card device security provided using biometric data.”

The plaintiff averred that about 10 years after its priority application date for the ’208 and ’705 patents, “Apple introduced the Touch ID security feature with the iPhone, which is a biometric fingerprint recognition system” that can be used for device access and payments. A few year later, in 2017, Apple purportedly introduced Face ID, as an alternative security feature to Touch ID. The plaintiff noted that in 2019, Apple introduced Apple Card, which is built into the iPhone Wallet; it has a variety of privacy and security features, including Touch ID and Face ID.

For example, Apple purportedly infringed the ’208 patent because of its Accused Products’ Touch ID and Face ID features, for example for unlocking the iPhone. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged in the claim chart that the iPhone “populates the database of biometric signatures by receiving a series of entries of the biometric signal” via its “secure enclave (processor) (SEP) in the A11 chip that populate the database of an encrypted mathematical representation of face images used for Face ID based on a series of face image received by TrueDepth camera system.” The plaintiff added that, for instance, Apple’s iPhone X “populates the database of biometric signatures.” The iPhone X also allegedly “receives a series of face images through its image sensor on the TrueDepth camera system by having users move or tilt their head to set up a Face ID”; additionally, the SEP can “map biometric signal into an instruction,” “generate an authentication score based on its program instructions to determine whether the device can be unlocked,” “receive( ) translated face images through an image sensor located on the camera to populate the database of face images,” and match a face “against the enrolled facial image data and generate a match( ) score,” which is sent to the processor. Allegedly, if the match score is above a certain threshold, the device is unlocked. As a result of this system and functionality, the plaintiff proffered that Apple infringed the ’208 patent as well as the remaining patents-in-suit.

Apple seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, an award for damages and costs, pre- and post-judgment interest, and other relief. The plaintiff is represented by K&L Gates.