Bluebonnet Telecommunications, L.L.C. has filed a complaint for patent infringement against Apple, Inc. (complaint via PriorSmart) In separate suits, Bluebonnet has also targeted HTC America, Samsung Electronics America, Sony Ericsson, RIM, Sharp, Nokia, Pantech, LG electronics, Motorola Mobility, HP, Dell, and Google.
The patent in suit is U.S. 5,485,511, which was assigned at the time of issue to Siemens Rolm Communications. The complaint does not identify particular claims as being infringed, but alleges direct and indirect infringement.
Various blogs are identifying the patent as covering "call forwarding," since that is the feature mentioned in the complaint. The claims, however, relate generally to feature activation, and, in the case of claim 12, display of a list of features assigned to the telephone.
The plaintiff's focus on call-forwarding might relate to the iPhone's ability to display call forwarding status via an icon:
For reference, claim 12 reads as follows:
12. A method for determining which telephony features are assigned to a telephone within a telephone network having a central switch and a plurality of available telephony features, the telephone having a display, said method comprising the steps of:
placing a telephone call from the telephone to a predetermined telephone number through the central switch;
sending a plurality of feature activation request signals to the central switch, each of said feature activation request signals designating a telephone feature;
receiving feature status signals corresponding to each of said feature activation request signals from the switch, said feature status signals indicating whether a telephony feature corresponding to each of said feature activation request signals is assigned to the telephone;
generating a list of features assigned to the telephone from said feature status signals received from the switch; and
displaying said list of features assigned to the telephone on the display.