Corephotonics sues Apple over Small Camera Technology

8 November, 2017

Apple’s lead negotiator told Dr. Mendlovic, that even if Apple infringed, "it would take years and millions of dollars in litigation before Apple might have to pay something"

Corephotonics Dual-aperture Camera

Arelatively tiny startup company from Tel Aviv claims Apple Inc. stole its technology and is using it for its smartphones without permission. During the discussions between the companies, as early as 2015, Apple’s representatives made the impression that they are ready to face litigation process. Corephotonics filed this week a complaint of patent infringement against Apple in the United State District Court of Northern California, claiming Apple has made an unauthorized use of its Technologies in its iPhone 7 smartphones.

David Mendlovic
David Mendlovic

Corephotonics was established in 2012 by serial entrepreneurs Professor David Mendlovic, Dr. Gal Shabtay, Mr. Eran Kali, Dr. Noy Cohen and Mr. Ephraim Goldenberg. Thus far, Corephotonics has raised more than $50 million, from several funds and strategic investors, including Samsung Ventures, SanDisk,  Foxconn and MediaTek.

Corephotonics is a pioneer in the development of dual camera technologies for mobile devices. The advanced lens design is used to create a miniature telephoto lens that can fit within the confines of a modern, thin smartphone. Corephotonics’ dual-aperture camera technology uses two fixed-focal length lenses, a wide angle lens similar to those typically found in a smartphone using a single-aperture.

Algorithmic Approach to Photography

Images from both of these cameras can be fused together using computational algorithms  to create a continuous zoom that is a combination of digital and optical zoom. For video, Corephotonics discovered that implementing image fusion for each frame demands higher than normal processing resources and battery drain.  In its dual-aperture camera, therefore, image fusion is only used when taking still pictures.  In video, when zooming in, digital zoom is used first on the image from the wide angle camera only and then switched to the image from the telephoto camera only.

When zooming back out, a similar transition happens from using the telephoto camera only, switching back to the wide angle camera only.  This approach minimizes resources and power. Because the two lenses are different and necessarily view the subject from different points of  view, Corephotonics developed special techniques to ensure that the transition from the wide lens to the telephoto lens and back would be smooth.

Failed Negotiation with Apple

One of its first acts as a registered company, Corephotonics reached out to Apple in the hopes of establishing a strategic partnership.  Corephotonics received many encouraging reports and positive feedback from Apple about its technology, but the parties never concluded a license  to the Corephotonics technology.  In the complaint it reveals that after one failed effort to negotiate a license, Apple’s lead negotiator expressed contempt for Corephotonics’ patents, telling Dr. Mendlovic and others that even if Apple infringed, it would take years and millions of dollars in litigation before Apple might have to pay something.

According to the complaint, In January 2016, Corephotonics learned that among the new iPhones Apple would introduce later that year was an iPhone 7 Plus with a dual-aperture camera—precisely the technology Corephotonics claimed in its patents. “As the direct and proximate result of Apple’s conduct, Corephotonics has suffered and, if Apple’s conduct is not stopped, will continue to suffer, severe competitive harm.”

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Posted in: ElectroOptics , News