James and Bethany Modisette are suing the toy-maker after a car crash two years ago that killed one of their daughters and injured the rest of the family. The driver of the car who hit them was using Apple’s FaceTime video chat.
The plaintiffs claim that if Apple had implemented technology it received a patent for in 2008 which was “a lock-out mechanism to prevent operation of one or more functions of handheld computing devices by drivers when operating vehicles,” such as texting or video chatting the accident would not have happened.
The complaint cites Apple’s “failure to design, manufacture, and sell the Apple iPhone 6 Plus with the patented, safer, alternative design technology” — in other words, lack of the programme’s inclusion — as a “substantial factor” in the crash.
It is a bold move taking this argument into a court and while we think it is unlikely to that it will go anywhere it does highlight a point. Tech companies patent shedloads of things and then never produce a product with them. In this case it was a fairly obvious piece of tech which would have saved a life. Apple could easily have incorporated it into the iPhone 6 but it didn’t.