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Apple Sued Over iPhone Browser 225

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the just-this-once-then dept.
SpuriousLogic writes "A Los Angeles real estate developer is suing Apple for patent infringement over the way the iPhone navigates Web sites. The suit, which was filed on behalf of EMG Technology, seeks unspecified damages. EMG Technology is a company that holds the patents of Elliot Gottfurcht, the real estate developer, as well as Marlo Longstreet and Grant Gottfurcht. The company claims that the iPhone infringes on patent 7,441,196 — a patent that was approved only last month, after a filing process that began on March 13, 2006. That patent is for an invention that displays 'on-line content reformatted from a webpage in a hypertext markup language (HTML) format into an extensible markup language (XML) format to generate a sister site.' This sister site is a simplified version of the original site that is then displayed on any number of devices — including cell phones, EMG says."
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Apple Sued Over iPhone Browser

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  • by danaris (525051) <`moc.cam' `ta' `siranad'> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @10:52AM (#25899469) Homepage

    Let's hope this case is the first of many to be swiftly decided for throwing out the patent entirely based on In re Bilski.

    Dan Aris

  • by LandDolphin (1202876) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:25AM (#25899807)
    Seeing as the people who evaluate the patent probably don't have any computer experience, the answer would probably be yes.
  • by mstroeck (411799) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:28AM (#25899825) Homepage

    This is just awesome. The "Dumbest Fuck Ever"-Award clearly goes to the lawyer who filed this laughably thin suit against a company that never has done anything funky to display HTML on its handhelds. The iPhone runs OS X, slightly scaled down for memory and power consumption gains.

  • by Professor_UNIX (867045) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:33AM (#25899865)

    If you're going to interpret rendering a page with less "features" as generating a sister site then Mosaic 1.0 is prior art for this patent. Try browsing the web with Mosaic 1.0 and you'll see a drastically different web "scaled down" for older computers by cutting out Flash, Java, Javascript, CSS... hell, it may not have even supported tables.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:55AM (#25900133)

    Yeah, but the apparatus is nothing more than an ordinary computer. It's rather hilariously described from fairly elementary principles:

    "FIG. 4 is a block diagram of a client hardware architecture of one embodiment of the invention. A processor 100 is coupled to various memory units and an I/O bus bridge 110 by a local bus 102. Among the expected memory units are random access memory (RAM) 106, which may be any standard RAM, including standard dynamic random access memory (DRAM), and may be symmetric or asymmetric. Also coupled to bus 102 is a read-only memory (ROM) unit 108. The ROM will typically include the boot code for the processor 100. A non-volatile RAM (NVRAM) unit 104 is also coupled to the bus."

    And so on. This "client hardware architecture of one embodiment of the invention" isn't distinctive in the least. It's "hardware fluff" to make the application look like it isn't only a software patent.

  • Re:Simpsons (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @12:27PM (#25900481)

    No no no...don't kill the patents. Kill the people that decide to create these crappy patents and then sue everyone and their dogs.

    I believe the "fist of death" list would currently include McDonald's and their patent for how to make a sandwich.

  • Re:Prior Art (Score:4, Insightful)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @12:36PM (#25900593)

    As a law student what would be your take on this company that seemingly has sued Apple when their technology doesn't infringe on the patent at all. Now I haven't read the exact patent and don't pretend to fully understand it but the article quotes:

    That patent is for an invention that displays "on-line content reformatted from a webpage in a hypertext markup language (HTML) format into an extensible markup language (XML) format to generate a sister site." This sister site is a simplified version of the original site that is then displayed on any number of devices--including cell phones, EMG says.

    Most phone web browsers do this because of the limitations on the device. Apple's iPhone however scales the web page in size for memory and screen considerations but does not rely on a sister site nor simplifies the page. At best this is a case of a plaintiff not doing their research. At worst, it's another patent troll company looking for the biggest fish.

  • by omeomi (675045) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @01:10PM (#25900965) Homepage
    Is it just me, or does the iPhone not do this anyway? It displays the regular webpage. Sure, there are some sites that detect the iPhone browser and deliver specially-formatted versions of their pages, but the iPhone isn't reformatting anything...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @01:47PM (#25901293)

    The general bias of this board seems to be anti-process patent. But with a great amount US GDP currently being derived from services and intellectual properties which include such processes, is there no benefit from awarding inventors if the only aspect of their invention is algorithmic in nature? I only ask because I'm a computer engineer and entrepreneur by trade and see the investment I make (time and money) developing systems which do not have current peers, and without some mechanism for allowing early market development I would probably never be able to recoup that cost. Am I just "the man" and I didn't even realize it?

  • by pohl (872) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @01:48PM (#25901299) Homepage

    A debate about "slight" versus "significant" strikes me as silly. The page you linked to shows that the phone has a kernel that supports posix/BSD 4.4, and layered upon that are a lot of familiar APIs from the desktop version, with some things removed (printing, carbon,...) to reduce weight as appropriate for a mobile platform. UIKit is unique to the mobile version.

    One could make a case for calling this slight - especially if juxtaposed against the architectural differences between the desktop and mobile versions of Windows. The iPhone OS is essentially NeXTstep on my phone. Windows Mobile is nowhere near "NT on a phone". So, in comparison between the two pairs, it is slight.

    I suppose one could make a case for it being signifigant, as well -- but I'd be surprised if one could do it in a way that would undermine the validity of the other perspective. The page you linked to does as much to support "slight" as it does to support "significant".

  • by dontmakemethink (1186169) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @03:05PM (#25901973)
    Indeed, patents are the new domain squatting. Patent applicants should be required to demonstrate reasonable facilities and intent to bring the process or product to market. Otherwise inevitable discovery by an apt and able company should supercede impotent IP claims. "I thought of it first" isn't enough.
  • by tyrione (134248) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @03:54PM (#25902469) Homepage

    Seeing as the people who evaluate the patent probably don't have any computer experience, the answer would probably be yes.

    That's rather rich. ``So let me get this straight, all I have to do is validate or invalidate software patents but I don't need any experience on computers?''

    Respondent: ``That's correct.''

    Self: ``Now I understand the meaning of `this is government work.'''

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:13PM (#25902679)

    Look around your office. How many of the important tools and technologies you use every day depended on patent protection in their early incarnations?

    Chances are, the answer is damned near none, except for the bottle of Viagra in your bottom desk drawer.

    Patents were never supposed to be granted on vague ideas and abstract concepts. As long as they are, they reward the unproductive at everyone else's expense.

What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away.

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