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It's hard to say what came first: the chicken, or the egg, or the dual-camera iPhone technology.
In a new lawsuit, two inventors claim their dual-camera tech came first. Apple, they say, infringed on their patent.
Chickens and eggs actually have nothing to do with the lawsuit, but it's fair to say that the first one will win the patent battle. Or they could settle -- six of one, half a dozen of the other.
Yanbin Yu and Zhongxuan Zhang say they developed the dual-camera technology in 1999. U.S. Patent No. 6,611,289, granted in 2003, describes using "multiple sensors with multiple lenses" to improve the quality of digital photographs.
In their complaint, the plaintiffs say Apple's iPhone 7 Plus, 8 Plu, iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max infringe on their patent. Those phones apparently use a camera technology claimed in U.S. Patent No. 8,115,825, granted in 2012, for an "electronic device with two image sensors."
Yu and Zhang say the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office first rejected Apple's patent based on the prior art in their patent. The lawsuit will sort out the differences in the final product.
In any case, the plaintiffs say Apple knew its technology was infringing at the time it marketed its phones. They want treble damages.
No one can say how it will all turn out. However, Apple usually wins and does not settle easily.
Most recently, the company ended a seven-year patent battle. Apple sued Samsung for infringing on its design and software.
The parties finally settled somewhere in the $539 million range, give or take $60 million in attorney's fees. Yu and Zhang will be lucky if they crack that.