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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 CubanCorona (759226) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:02AM (#25899571)
      Unfortunately, this patent contains apparatus claims as well as method claims.

      The Bilski decision was limited to method claims, and so it won't apply without a fairly liberal extension of that holding.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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 asy

      • by Teilo (91279) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @12:06PM (#25900265) Homepage

        Apparatus claims are not sufficient to get around In re Biski. Simply adding the words "On a computer" or "On a handheld device" (or long drawn-out complicated descriptions which equate to the same), to a process that is, in itself, purely algorithmic or an abstract process that could equally apply to any number of pre-existing machines, does not rise to the level of the machine requirement in In re Biski.

        I like to put it his way (though this is overly simplified, perhaps): If you come up with a novel way to use a screw driver, you cannot patent your method, because you didn't have to invent the screw driver to do it. The screw driver already existed.

        In this patent, you could substitute the words, "web page displayed in a browser, running on a hand-held computer with a touch screen" for the bulk of the claim copy. Well, none of that qualifies a process as unique to a specific machine. The fact that there are many different devices that meet his description, devices that are in no way intrinsically linked to this patent, brings this into direct conflict with In re Bilski.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @01:13PM (#25900993)

          I dunno, if I discovered a way to browse webpages on my screwdriver, I'd probably be able to patent it legitimately... :D

        • by CubanCorona (759226) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @01:37PM (#25901217)
          From a completely subjective point of view, the thrust of your argument makes intuitive sense--why should a method that is not patent eligible be able to skirt this result by reciting a general purpose machine for its execution?

          Unfortunately, in the legal world, intuition must sometimes give way to legal formalisms.

          In this case the formalisms are the statutory categories of invention. Processes (methods) constitute one distinct statutory category, and machines (apparatuses) another.

          Getting back to your point, you are correct to say that, after Bilski, a method (process) claim that is otherwise not patent eligible may not become eligible by simply providing that the disclosed method is executed on a general purpose machine (computer).

          HOWEVER, an apparatus claim is separate and distinct from a method claim that is tied to an apparatus.

          So while it is true that tying a method claim to a general purpose computer is not sufficient to overcome Bilski's machine requirement, it remains true that the holding of Bilski DOES NOT APPLY TO APPARATUS CLAIMS.

          As an example, consider the following:

          Method claim: "A method of ... comprising the steps of ...."

          Method claim tied to a general purpose computer: "A method of ... executed by a computer processor, comprising the steps of ...."

          APPARATUS claim: "A computer readable storage medium containing instructions, when executed by a computer processor, operable to ...."
          • by Teilo (91279)

            Your point is well taken. I was not aware of this distinction.

            Now, the next step in the right direction would be a ruling to the effect that a method claim cannot be recast as an apparatus claim, just to avoid the machine requirement. i.e., that if there is no essential difference between a method claim and an apparatus claim when the apparatus incorporates a general-purpose machine, the apparatus claim, by the same standard, should be denied.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          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

        • Wouldn't the Palm Pilot's browser be considered prior art here?
      • by kimvette (919543)

        Yes, but is:

        [$PRIOR_ART], on a wireless device

        sufficient innovation to demand a patent?

        • 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 peragrin (659227)

            Slasheot looks and works exactly the same on my iPhone as any desktop browser. Sure typing is a bit harder. But that doesn't matter as to how it works.

            The only big difference is that drop down menu scroll like on an index reel. This is done for limited space and appears the same for all websites. Modding posts is only slightly slower.

          • by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @02:25PM (#25901659) Journal
            Absolutely correct. The iPhone browser is a different UI built on top of a tweaked WebKit. It does not use XML or page simplification techniques in any way. I'm pretty baffled by this suit. About all I can imagine is that some web site served a simplified site to this company's iPhone based on a browser match and these folks with their complete lack of technical knowledge assumed that the iPhone did the simplification, which couldn't be farther removed from reality without talking about Internet gnomes sending messages through a series of tubes....
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      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

      IMO, the threat of bankrupting litigation will prevent smaller companies from becoming test cases for In re Bilski and the threat of getting patents busted will encourage big companies to (cross)license patents instead of going to court with each other.

      I'm sure we'll get a good test case soon enough, but self interest creates perverse incentives for companies to maintain the status quo.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by node 3 (115640)

        It won't cost small companies millions to fight a patent like this, and large companies will not pay millions of dollars if they don't have to.

        Even if both situations may actually happen from time to time, they would only have to not happen once to completely invalidate a patent.

  • Oh, well... (Score:3, Funny)

    by MaxwellEdison (1368785) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @10:53AM (#25899483)
    That is certainly a necessary invention for a real estate developer...otherwise how could they display information about their latest housing projects or large malls on an iPhone?!
  • by neowolf (173735) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @10:53AM (#25899485)

    So- they essentially patented WAP? I think Apple can come up with enough "prior artwork" for this one. It's unfortunate though that companies like this (EMG) are allowed to even exist. When will it end?

    • by ergo98 (9391) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:23AM (#25899785) Homepage Journal

      So- they essentially patented WAP?

      No, it's worse than that. They basically patented XSLT, and the application of it to target different devices.

      Another completely retarded patent.

      • 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 geobeck (924637) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @12:20PM (#25900425) Homepage

      I think Apple can come up with enough "prior artwork" for this one.

      Changing "prior art" to "prior artwork" paints an interesting picture of a potential courtroom exchange...

      "I would like to present Exhibit A, "Motherboard Descending a Staircase" by Ed Picasso, painted in January 2006. Despite its neo-cubist style, this work shows an example of "client hardware architecture" much more clearly than the patent troll--I mean, defendant's patent documents.

      • by Cow Jones (615566)

        Changing "prior art" to "prior artwork" paints an interesting picture of a potential courtroom exchange...

        "I would like to present Exhibit A, "Motherboard Descending a Staircase" by Ed Picasso, painted in January 2006..

        Picasso? Does this make sense?
        No! Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not make sense! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit!
        The defense rests.

    • So- they essentially patented WAP? I think Apple can come up with enough "prior artwork" for this one. It's unfortunate though that companies like this (EMG) are allowed to even exist. When will it end?

      Well maybe not WAP, but at least what Firefox has been doing since before 2006. That is taking an unstructured document and then structuring as XML so that it can go through a common renderer. There is probably more than enough prior art here.

  • Decoding anyone? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Leafheart (1120885) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @10:54AM (#25899489)
    So they got a patent on decoding and interpreting? Isn't that covered by prior art with things like PDFCreator, or is it enough to change file types to get it?
    • 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.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tyrione (134248)

        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.'''

    • Software patents generally suck, but it's generally not because of "prior art".

      It's because the general trend of progress in this industry is to make small, incremental improvements on what exists. Patents are supposed to encourage big, radical (and *clearly radical) breakthroughs in technology.

      When you focus on prior art, you fall into an argumentative trap where the troll says "yes, $priorArt did A, B, C, D, E, and F .. but see! I added G! Them's tasty intellectual properties!"

  • Patent reform (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dogmatixpsych (786818) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @10:54AM (#25899493) Homepage Journal
    We need some serious patent reform. Patents are good and necessary in general but many of these go too far or are too vague or are not based on working prototypes.

    How long before we see a patent on "a system of placing letters and numbers in sequential order in order to convey something meaningful"?
    • by bigmouth_strikes (224629) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:04AM (#25899603) Journal

      How long before we see a patent on "a system of placing letters and numbers in sequential order in order to convey something meaningful"?

      Sadly, there's no prior art for this on the internet...

    • "How long before we see a patent on "a system of placing letters and numbers in sequential order in order to convey something meaningful"?

      Well thank God Slashdot will be safe if this ever happens...
    • Patents are good and necessary in general

      How do we know that? No, really. I have seen exactly zero studies that come to this conclusion while there is at least circumstantial evidence [guardian.co.uk] to the contrary.

    • Re:Patent reform (Score:4, Informative)

      by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @12:58PM (#25900835) Homepage Journal

      We need some serious patent reform. Patents are good and necessary in general...

      I seriously doubt this. The claim for patents is that they protect the 'useful arts' by offering inventors a limited-time monopoly on whatever they have invented - provided that the invention passes some test of non-obviousness and utility.

      However, if you look back in history to periods in which some countries had patent systems and some did not - the United Kingdom and Germany in the nineteenth century, for example - it's clear that lack of a patent system did not in the least hold back inventors in Germany from inventing and developing new technologies. On the contrary. So the intellectual justification for having a patent system in the first place looks a bit thin.

      I think we'd all - drug companies included - be better off if there were no such things as patents.

  • Uh... wrong browser? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Millennium (2451) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @10:54AM (#25899501) Homepage

    I know Opera Mini and some other mobile browsers do this, but I thought Safari worked on the HTML itself. Wouldn't that render the patent irrelevant?

    • 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 mcgrew (92797) *

      I was visiting Linda at the hospital and logged on to wikipedia from the computer in the waiting room to google "Bilirubin" (probably misspelled; she had elevated levels because of the cancer. The substance is what makes pee yellow.)

      Then I tried to log onto Yahoo! news, but got an error. The error said that the page wasn't supported by Windows CE.

      It was some HP internet-only device smaller than a cigar box, hooked to a Dell flat screen monitor and apparently running Windows CE, although the desktop looked l

      • Almost definitely one of HP's CE based thin clients: 5510, 5520, 5530, or 5540 depending on the age of the anecdote and hipness of the hospital IT department.
        • If I am not mistaken, the HP thinterms run XP Embedded, not Windows CE. At least the ones we have deployed in our hospital do.
  • Oh boy... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Linuss (1305295) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @10:54AM (#25899505) Journal
    I hope my patent for hamburgers is approved soon, i filed it in 1607 and want to sue mcdonalds. truth.
    • Re:Oh boy... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by I cant believe its n (1103137) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:31AM (#25899847) Journal
      "They set up the Campaign for Real Time to try to stop this sort of thing going on. Their case was considerably strengthened by the fact that a week after they had set themselves up, news broke that not only had the great Cathedral of Chalesm been pulled down in order to build a new ion refinery, but that construction of the refinery had taken so long, and had had to extend so far back into the past in order to allow ion production to start on time, that the Cathedral of Chalesm had now never been built in the first place." - Douglas Adams
  • by Dekortage (697532) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @10:56AM (#25899515) Homepage

    Safari doesn't create a different version of the web page. It shows the original HTML version, just graphically scaled down. So EMG should be suing all the other cell phone browser companies. As the article notes:

    Now, it seems to me that this is a description of what every single mobile phone on the market does. Every mobile phone EXCEPT the iPhone, that is. Remember all those commercials touting how the iPhone doesn't display a simplified Web site, but the full Web page? ... The press release issued by EMG claims that the iPhone uses the same method as their invention. So, doesn't every other mobile phone do this as well? Should a patent granted last month hand over intellectual property rights for every single handheld device that accesses the Web?

    • by powerlord (28156) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:13AM (#25899703) Journal

      Four possibilities:

      1) They wish to claim that "scaled down" is included in their definition of a "Sister site" (absurd)

      2) They believe the Safari browser in the iPhone is not showing the "real" site (uninformed)

      3) They are trying to use Safari as a test case since Apple's best argument is that it "doesn't scale things". Even if they lose, they can't point to this lawsuit and use it as a basis to force other cell phone makers to pay up (since they can't claim apple's defense) (unlikely, but plausible. IANAL)

      4) They are going after Apple because its the "hot" thing with lots of money to go after (likely)

      Anyone have any other ideas? :)

    • Yeah, this is what really just blew my mind. They could have sued any other phone manufacturer on earth and had a case, but yet they chose Apple. I... I just don't understand the world anymore :(
  • Reformat content? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fermion (181285) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:03AM (#25899595) Homepage Journal
    I thought the whole point of the iphone was to not have to reformat content, the iphone can display it the way it is. I know some sites, like amazon, are so badly formatted that the owners feel the site has to be rewritten for iPhone, but it does not help much. Other sites, like NYT, wrote an app, but that appears to be for ad revenue purposes, as iPhone does not have flash. The same for Youtube.

    So, at the end of the day, I fail to see how this applies to any modern smart phone. Only the older phones, or non-smart phones, can't render HTML as is. Of course most of these problems are caused by graphic designers not understanding HML, and borking the standard so we now have web pages that make no sense in almost an common browser.

    • What they are talking about is its ability to recognize blocks of text and items by looking at the HTML and CSS. If you notice, the iPhone doesn't just zoom in an arbitrary amount when you double-tap; if you tap on a paragraph, it knows what the paragraph is and sets it to the screen edges dynamically.
  • Opera on my Zaurus has been doing this since well before 2006
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SteveRyan (1828)

      Someplace I have a Handspring Visor with a Xircom WiFi adapter that does this, too; it was from early in 2002. It might even still work, if Palm hasn't unplugged the proxy servers yet.

    • by TypoNAM (695420)
      Yep, good ole Opera 6 on my Sharp Zaurus SL-5500 [wikipedia.org]. I personally used the OpenZaurus distribution with the exported Opera browser [mobileopera.com] from the last sharp firmware release for my model.

      But yeah it worked great at the time for any website I visited to be presented just like the computer version of opera and the other web browsers and the zoom features were fairly decent. Of course back then websites weren't so web 2.0 crazy either since majority of the content wasn't drastically dynamically manipulated in javasc
  • Simpsons (Score:5, Funny)

    by forgoil (104808) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:23AM (#25899787) Homepage

    Worst... patent... ever...

    Just kill patents now, please, they are just in the way and never ever actually protects individuals, only capital, and money should flow to help innovation, not be collected by greedy old men to lure attractive (but oh so dumb) women to be with them.

  • by lieuwen (1417741) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:28AM (#25899819)
    The patent examiners seems to have missed all the prior work at WWW. For instance,
    Juliana Freire, Bharat Kumar, Daniel F. Lieuwen: WebViews: accessing personalized web content and services. WWW 2001: 576-586
    Anyone reasonably skilled in the art could have gone from my paper to that claim without much trouble---we use htmltidy to turn html into xml and used xpath to extract pieces out of it which we could transcode in various ways including in voicexml. We built a system that did just that. And thats just one paper. WWW had a number of papers, any which of them should have killed this patent if the patent examiner had done the proper due diligence.
    • by argent (18001)

      Almost as much fun as when Dennis Ritchie demolished SCO's claims about System V code in Linux.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by fahrbot-bot (874524)

      The patent examiners seems to have missed all the prior work at WWW.

      Ya, but this patent adds "on the Internet". :-)

    • The patent goes back to November 1999. Good prior art would have to be published before November 1998 (your paper looks like it was published in 2001).
  • 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.

    • The OS running on the iPhone vs. the OS running on a Mac is far more than "slightly scaled down."

      Have a look at an architectural overview [apple.com]. There's some pretty significant differences between the platforms

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by pohl (872)

        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 mobil

  • Eh? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:40AM (#25899939) Journal
    I know it is all flashy and high profile and profitable and stuff; but isn't the iPhone a really stupid target for this sort of thing? My impression was that mobile safari behaved almost exactly like desktop safari(in terms of rendering), which means acting pretty much like any webkit based browser. There are phone/mobile browsers that do all sorts of curious chopping and reformatting, possibly event patentable chopping and reformatting; but wasn't one of the perks of the iPhone that it didn't need to?
  • by argent (18001)

    Um, wasn't there prior art on the Palm 7 *last century*?

  • XSLT is the key (Score:4, Informative)

    by Vapula (14703) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:49AM (#25900035)

    Easy prior art :
    <xsl:stylesheet xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3c.org/1999/XSL/Transform" version="1.0">

    </xsl:stylesheet>

    XSLT clearly existed in 1999... And if you use an empty stylesheet, you get a (very) simplified document which only contains the text nodes, without any HTML (or other) tags...

    That can easily be displayed on text-only devices.

    If you add a

    <xsl:template select="a">
        <xsl:copy-of select="." />
    </xsl:template>

    The links are preserved (but are the only kind of formatting preserved)... That's basic XSLT and I guess that many teachers who give XML lessons have used similar examples...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DrXym (126579)
      XSL wouldn't work on HTML because generally speaking it isn't well-formed. Not even a XHTML DTD ensures well-formedness because browsers are far too forgiving.

      Anyway this patent is bullshit. If the iPhone were transforming the site in some meaningful way, it would be guaranteed to break any JavaScript in the page. That code calling document.getElementById("foo") would break when "foo" wasn't there or was rearranged. Safari might scale images or reflow the content, or ignore certain style rules but nothing

  • by qazwart (261667) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:53AM (#25900111) Homepage

    When does Apple ever do anything creative?

    (WARNING: The above post contains a large amount of sarcasm. It is not intended to be taken seriously. If you feel a need to argue with this point ("No way, Dude! Apple is the bestest company in the whole wide world!). Go download an iPhone application. I hear there's a new one out that's nice and shiny. If you want to defend this post (Yeah, Apple Sucks!). Go back to your PC and marvel at the wonders of Vista. If you only use Linux as your operating system, let your parents know I feel sorry for them.)

    • by mstroeck (411799)

      Huh?

      Your post rings a weird bell in my head that hasn't been rung before. Some completely new kind of ... lameness, maybe? Virgin territory to man, in any case.

  • Prior Art (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dragoon412 (648209) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @12:19PM (#25900407)

    First off, IANAL. I am a law student with IP and patent law classes under my belt, but I'm still just a law student. Take the following with a grain of salt.

    In a lot of the patent articles on Slashdot, where someone will ask "Isn't X prior art?" Often, even though it seems intuitively that it should be, it's not.

    Actual prior art, which would be sufficient to legally defeat a patent, must read on all of a patent's claims. Assume the patent in question has claims (basically, technical description of features) A, B, and C. You research patents, and you find older patents:

    Patent 1 has claims A and B.
    Patent 2 has claims B and C.
    Patent 3 has claims A and C.

    None of those will defeat the patent in question on prior art grounds, because none of them include all of the claims A, B, and C.

    What you may have at that point is an obviousness objection. You could argue that because there are patents 1-3 exist, that combining them to create A, B, and C was so obvious to someone skilled in the art that the patent should be invalidated for failing to be non-obvious. But that's different than prior art.

    Having a patent invalidated for prior art is actually pretty uncommon. Obviousness issues are more common, but often, it's cheaper to just settle.

    • 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.

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

      by Fzz (153115) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @01:02PM (#25900877)
      Actual prior art, which would be sufficient to legally defeat a patent, must read on all of a patent's claims.

      I'm not a lawyer either, but I have successfully contested several patents in court (one European, one US case), and had them invalidated. Your statement is not quite correct.

      Usually a patent has a series of independent claims. A piece of prior art must read on all the elements of a single claim to invalidate that claim. However you can use different pieces of prior art to invalidate different independent claims.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by immcintosh (1089551)

      Well, that's fine, but from what I gather this patent has a couple of points against it in that (a) its claims seem quite simple and happen to only encompass a process that has been quite common for several years, and (b) it the iPhone doesn't even implement the process covered by this patent; it doesn't even come close to implementing it, in fact, it's the one phone on the market that is overwhelmingly not covered by this patent, unless I'm vastly misunderstanding the content of this patent.

      Prior art aside

    • by ensignyu (417022)

      IANAL, nor do I know much about patents (so correct me if I'm wrong), but that doesn't sound right. The claims are usually independent. I was under the impression that you could invalidate individual claims of the patent, making them effectively unenforceable, even if the patent itself isn't thrown out. As long as you can invalidate all the claims that you're being sued over, that's good enough.

      Scenario (again, IANAL):

      You can claim "1. Suppose there is a round, disc-shaped object that can rotate freely on o

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      First off, IANAL. I am a law student with IP and patent law classes under my belt, but I'm still just a law student. Take the following with a grain of salt.

      In a lot of the patent articles on Slashdot, where someone will ask "Isn't X prior art?" Often, even though it seems intuitively that it should be, it's not.

      Actual prior art, which would be sufficient to legally defeat a patent, must read on all of a patent's claims. Assume the patent in question has claims (basically, technical description of features) A, B, and C. You research patents, and you find older patents:

      Patent 1 has claims A and B.
      Patent 2 has claims B and C.
      Patent 3 has claims A and C.

      None of those will defeat the patent in question on prior art grounds, because none of them include all of the claims A, B, and C.

      What you may have at that point is an obviousness objection. You could argue that because there are patents 1-3 exist, that combining them to create A, B, and C was so obvious to someone skilled in the art that the patent should be invalidated for failing to be non-obvious. But that's different than prior art.

      Having a patent invalidated for prior art is actually pretty uncommon. Obviousness issues are more common, but often, it's cheaper to just settle.

      I think you may be confusing anticipation with prior art. Prior art can be anything that teaches an element of a claim. The combination of prior art makes an invention obvious. A single piece of prior art renders it anticipated. Iaapl (I am a patent lawyer).

      • I think you may be confusing anticipation with prior art. Prior art can be anything that teaches an element of a claim. The combination of prior art makes an invention obvious. A single piece of prior art renders it anticipated. Iaapl (I am a patent lawyer).

        You are, of course, correct.

        Open mouth, insert foot. I should be more careful about my own terminology before I go on trying to correct other people for theirs.

        How embarrassing.

        Hopefully people see this and mod my previous comment down.

    • I don't think so (Score:4, Interesting)

      by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @02:44PM (#25901811) Homepage Journal

      I'm not a lawyer, or even a law student, but am an engineer who has worked under the direction of patent attorneys to evaluate patents to determine whether or not my employer's work infringed or whether we could demonstrate prior art.

      From my experience, patents consist of a series of claims that are independent and severable, except where they explicitly depend on one another. That is, a patent often consists of claims A, B and C, where B and C are both extensions of the idea in A.

      Each independent claim contains multiple elements, and for prior art to apply, or a technology to be infringing, ALL of the elements of a given claim have to apply. It is not, however, necessary for all of the CLAIMS in the patent to apply. If I have prior art that covers everything in claim C, then claim C is invalidated. Since claim C is an extension of claim A, then the prior art also contains everything in A and it is invalidated. But if B contains elements that are not in the prior art, then that portion of the patent stands.

      So far, this is consistent with what you said, but the point is that if B is the only claim left standing, then ONLY technologies that implement B can be infringing. So even when prior art doesn't completely invalidate a patent, it often dramatically pares down its applicability. Often to the point where it's a trivial matter to sidestep a patent.

      Having a patent invalidated for prior art is actually pretty uncommon. Obviousness issues are more common, but often, it's cheaper to just settle.

      True, but don't forget that prior art is often a key part of the settlement negotiations. If the alleged infringer can show prior art that would invalidate a large part of the patent, they can reduce the settlement to almost nothing. It's even been known to happen that in a case where the defendant has been able to come up with not only prior art but also some counter claims, that the plaintiff ends up paying a settlement to avoid having their patent dragged through court and invalidated.

    • It seems you didn't pay close attention in your IP law class, but this only borders on the truth. In reality, a document can be considered prior art under one of a few different USC102 sections. These statutes basically define sets of documents based on their publish or made-available date, inventors or authors and so on. Now a given document may only read on one claim or even one limitation in a claim, but if that document qualifies as prior art it is fair game for use in an obviousness rejection. A do
  • Hmmm. (Score:5, Informative)

    by hey! (33014) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @12:37PM (#25900601) Homepage Journal

    The patent doesn't claim that representing a web site in XML is original. Instead, it seems to be claiming patent rights on a caching mechanism somewhat like the tiling scheme used in Google maps, except that instead of converting a map into a series of image tiles, they convert a web page into a series of tiles on the server. In Google Maps, this allows a huge document, if you will, to be served in bandwidth efficient chunks to support a responsive user interface.

    This tiling strategy is clearly not original, so the claim is for a mechanism for doing this by converting a web page, server-side, into an XML document, portions of which can be fetched (in cases of adjacent tiles preemptively) from the server, updating the display using DOM style manipulations. The HTML->XML transformation is used to try to convert a number of common practices, inventions:tiling and caching content, displaying advertisements in response to web page navigation events, doing said things on the server side or client side, doing it on mobile devices and set-top devices; doing it in response to voice command, doing it in response to keyboard entries, doing it in response to mouse clicks; allowing the user to zoom in on a tile, etc.

    The supposed secret sauce is converting an HTML web site into geometric tiles represented by XML. That's what's supposed to make this thing stick when thrown against the wall. Everything else in the patent is there to maximize the size of the blob sticking to the wall. Oh, yes and mumbo jumbo that makes the idea sound a lot more mysterious than it really is.

    I'm guessing that what they are going after is Apple's implementation of something analogous to tabbed browsing on the iPhone, an interface that has a coverflowish feel. The patent claims rights to using zooming/magnification with three dimensional representations of web sites created with their secret XML sauce. You can sort of imagine confusing the Safari interface with this if you had never seen it in action, but the inexplicable thing is that Apple isn't using the secret sauce of HTML-XML conversion to produce their interface. You can sort of imagine going after low end phone news and messaging browsers that use WML as looking something like the secret sauce in that it uses HTML to XML conversion, but it doesn't use it in the way specified by the secret sauce. And it's prior art.

    Basically, this is a worthless BS patent. Even if this were not BS, what it describes doesn't apply to the iPhone browser. They don't have any chance at all. So I can only speculate they're trying to hype the value of their "property" to attract stupid investors.

  • I'll have to visit the complainant the next time I'm in Tyler. (Which should be in January.) Somewhere I saw a scan of the filling, which looked like it was written on the back of napkins. I wouldn't have much confidence in the suit, but IAMNAL.

  • ... as about people being encouraged to create bogus issues in order to harvest money.

    A previous poster cited the lawyer who filed this patent application as "dumbest fuck ever" but I feel reasonably confident he got paid to file the patent.

    I'd be surprised if there are not several members of the legal profession getting paid to decide this matter, including a judge.

    The legal system probably can't be trusted to stop these abuses, especially in jurisdictions that have actively encouraged this type of litigat
  • patent troll, meet DMCA bully.
    DMCA bully, meet patent troll.
  • by Gunark (227527) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @02:15PM (#25901537)

    I wrote software to do exactly this back in 2003. We took pages written in XHTML and ran an XSLT transform on them generating simplified XHTML for the then-primitive Blackberry browser.

    The idea was that we could write one rich user interface in XHTML, viewable through a regular web browser, and then used the XSLT transforms to degrade the interface for a simplified browser. This was supposed to be one of the miracles of XML. In practice of course it turned out to be more work than if we had just manually created a different set of pages.

  • Glad I've only done it dozens of times myself before 2006.

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