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Apple hit by patent suit over Passbook

A software development company is claiming patent infringment on the part of Apple's new Passbook electronic ticketing system.

Apple's Passbook app
Apple's Passbook app
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Apple is in the middle of another lawsuit, this one over charges that its Passbook app violates several patents of software developer Ameranth.

In the court document, Ameranth, which sells software and services to the hospitality and gaming industry, claims that Passbook violates four of its U.S. patents -- No. 6,384,850, No. 6,871,325, No. 6,982,733, and No. 8,146,077.

All four patents deal with "Information management and synchronous communications system." As such, they cover the ability to synchronize data among wired, wireless, and Web-based systems for electronic menus and reservations for such businesses as restaurants.

Introduced in iOS 6, Apple's Passbook app lets users synchronize and save electronic copies of tickets, boarding passes, loyalty cards, and coupons.

In its suit, Ameranth cites Passbook's ability to download and store "airline boarding passes, hotel reservations, movie tickets, and event tickets" and claims that Apple is aware of the patents allegedly being violated.

"One of the Ameranth patents-in-suit, U.S. Patent No. 6,384,850 -- the first patent issued in this Ameranth patent family -- was cited as a prior art reference in two Apple iPhone patents issued to named inventors Bas Ording and Steven P. Jobs," the company stated in its court filing. "Also, three of the patents in this Ameranth patent family have been asserted in several patent enforcement actions against Apple business partners."

Ameranth says it's looking for triple the amount of damages that it has sustainted as a result of Apple's infringement.

Ameranth is no stranger to the patent courts.

In July, the company filed patent lawsuits against several hotels, travel sites, and ticketing companies, including Hilton, Marriott, Best Western, Travelocity, Kayak, Hotwire, Expedia, Orbitz, Ticketmaster, Stubhub, and Fandango.

Ameranth's home page displays several of its patents and news briefs of recent patent agreements with other companies.

CNET contacted both Apple and Ameranth for comment and will update the story if we receive any information.

(Via AppleInsider)