Lawsuit claims Apple should have implemented anti-FaceTime technology to prevent the death of a 5 year old child
From Apple Insider:
The suit stems from a death related to the Dec. 24, 2014 accident in Texas, when James Modisette slowed the vehicle the family was traveling in because of road congestion. A 20-year-old driver then slammed into the rear of the car at 65 miles per hour, injuring the passengers in the Modisette’s car, and ultimately leading to the death of the five-year-old Moriah Modisette after arrival at a local hospital.
This is truly tragic. Operation of a motor vehicle is a huge responsibility, and people shouldn’t be using any electronic device while driving. Many of us are guilty of this…embarrassingly, myself included. The 20 year old driver that hit Modisette’s vehicle was using FaceTime when he struck their vehicle.
I want to get into the analysis of this, as it opens up Pandora’s box. Judicial precedent could be set here, if the lawsuit is a ‘success’. This means that if any technological innovation that is related to safety and is not implemented, irrespective of the efficacy of such technology, could open the door to liability.
This stems from Apple successfully filing for and being awarded a patent that would effectively deny the use of FaceTime when the handset believes it is traveling in a vehicle. The lawsuit claims the patent, which was awarded in 2008, would have prevented the death of 5 year old Moriah if Apple would have implemented the technology…which it has not to this day, presumably because patented technology isn’t always developed.
While we don’t know why Apple hasn’t developed or deployed the idea that is in the patent…a cursory ponder would yield the conclusion, that FaceTime would also be denied to people who aren’t driving. Anyone riding in a bus, or a train, flying on an aircraft, sitting in the rear or passenger seats might also not use FaceTime.
The story continues:
“Despite both the technology since 2008 and a patent on that technology so it could exploit its patent without competition for 20 years, ” declares the court filing, “defendant Apple has consistently and continuously failed to implement a safer, alternative design that would lock-out and prevent use of FaceTime while driving.”
Regarding a FaceTime lockout, the suit claims that “the cost of altering the design would be minimal” for Apple and “there are no conceivable disadvantages to implementing the technology.”
This is where the lawyers are affected by The Stupid. How do they know how much it would cost for Apple to develop technology it has patented? Apple has scores of patented technology it has not developed.
This will be an interesting case to follow because it will likely affect technological innovation as it pertains to intellectual property.
OEM’s would be less-likely to patent intellectual property if a patent award means the OEM would be required to develop and deploy the technology within a set amount of time after the patent has been awarded.
Source: Apple Insider
Also published on Medium.