Mix: Apple patent, lawsuit, EasyPay, NBA League Pass

Apple has filed a new patent application describing a wireless headset with the ability to play music on its own while the external device is not being used. The drawings show a headset similar to Apple’s prior iPhone Bluetooth Headset, but with a port on the rear that can be connected to a cord or strap with a similar, iPod-style earbud on the opposite side for stereo sound. Proposed features of the device would include the ability to be used as an audio player, the ability to record voice notes, which could then be synced back to the attached device, the ability to cache voicemail recordings for offline playback, and the ability to record all or part of a phone conversation. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area.

St. Clair Intellectual Property Consultants, a Michigan-based company that has previously been awarded millions of dollars in lawsuits against consumer electronics companies such as Sony and Canon, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple in U.S. District Court in Delaware. The company claims that Apple has infringed upon four of its patents, entitled “Electronic Still Video Camera with Direct Personal Computer (PC) Compatible Digital Format Output,” “Electronic Still Video Camera with Direct Personal Computer (PC) Compatible Digital Format Output,” another entitled “Electronic Still Video Camera with Direct Personal Computer (PC) Compatible Digital Format Output,” and “Process for Use in Electronic Camera”. The suit claims that Apple has “made, offered to sell, imported, used and/or sold” digital cameras that “directly, contributorily, or by inducement” infringe on the patents, without naming any specific product. AppleInsider notes that in many cases where St. Clair was awarded damages, the defendants entered into licensing agreements with the company.

Apple is set to switch its retail stores from the current EasyPay portable point-of sale (POS) computers to iPod touch units using an advanced scanner accessory, according to an ifoAppleStore report. The new units will allow employees to capture data from multiple barcodes—such as UPC, serial number, product code, and cellular IMEI and ICCI numbers—in a single pass, and will allow for cash transactions to be handled without the need to head to a central cash drawer. It is unclear, the report states, whether Apple is using software developed in-house for the new system or a third-party solution. The current EasyPay system, which runs on Windows CE devices from Symbol Technologies and debuted prior to the 2005 holiday buying season, has been the subject of ongoing complaints from Apple retail employees, who claim the system suffers from crashes, Wi-Fi dropouts, and sluggish operation.

The National Basketball Association has released NBA League Pass Mobile, its latest application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Developed by MobiTV, League Pass Mobile gives iPhone and iPod touch users access to more than 40 live NBA games a week during the 2009-20 regular season, full game replays for up to 48 hours after each game, daily highlights, live player stats, live scores, the ability to set “Remind Me” alerts for favorite teams or key games, and the ability to send game and stat updates via e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter. All streaming video is available over both Wi-Fi and 3G connections. NBA League Pass Mobile is available now from the App Store and sells for $40.

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