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Cellphones Patents Apple

Apple Wants Patents For Crippling Cellphones 371

Posted by kdawson
from the say-it-ain't-so-steve dept.
theodp writes "Evil is in the eye of the beholder, but there's certainly not much to like in the newly-disclosed Apple patent applications for Systems and Methods for Provisioning Computing Devices. Provisioning, says Apple, allows carriers to 'specify access limitations to certain device resources which may otherwise be available to users of the device.' So what problem are we trying to solve here? 'Mobile devices often have capabilities that the carriers do not want utilized on their networks,' explains Apple. 'Various applications on these devices may also need to be restricted.'"
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Apple Wants Patents For Crippling Cellphones

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  • Confirmed (Score:5, Funny)

    by cabjf (710106) on Friday October 02, 2009 @08:57AM (#29615615)
    This can only mean the iPhone is coming to Verizon!
    • by ThisIsForReal (897233) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:14AM (#29615765) Homepage
      I can picture a scene of pure evil, years from now, when Apple begins suing cell phone makers once their patent has been granted.

      "Your cell phone sucks. It doesn't use all of its potential, so you are infringing on our patent and you owe us money."

    • It is, next year. Bank on it.
    • Funny - I've never felt any great need to own an iPhone. But, now that I know Apple is capable of crippling and/or killing an iPhone, I feel this urge to run out and get one. Now, I know that if my iPhone tries to suck my brains out, Apple can prevent it. /sarcasm

    • Re:Confirmed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday October 02, 2009 @10:24AM (#29616513)

      This can only mean the iPhone is coming to Verizon!

      Verizon was my first cellphone carrier. I can only guess your comment has been modded by non-customers of Verizon - otherwise you'd be at +5 insightful instead.

      Seriously, anyone else remember when Verizon FINALLY offered their first Bluetooth phone (V700 I think)? Almost all of the useful Bluetooth features were disabled - when pushed, Verizon claimed it was "for security purposes"; yet they conveniently offered those same features for an outrageous fee through their own silly program. That was when I switched to T-Mobile - they're not perfect by a long shot, but at least their not overtly hostile towards their customers. With T-Mobile I could... GASP... use Bluetooth to sync my Mac's addressbook with my phone! Move pictures to and from my phone! Do my own ringtones! What a concept...

      I've heard a lot of speculation about the iPhone going to Verizon next - I really hope it's not true. If anyone can kill the iPhone, it'll be Verizon. Hmm... I wonder if Microsoft has thought about that...

      • Re:Confirmed (Score:4, Insightful)

        by clifyt (11768) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (rettamkinos)> on Friday October 02, 2009 @11:16AM (#29617115) Homepage

        "Almost all of the useful Bluetooth features were disabled - when pushed, Verizon claimed it was "for security purposes"; yet they conveniently offered those same features for an outrageous fee through their own silly program"

        I had the EXACT same thing through Sprint just before I canceled and switched to AT&T...but the worst part was, the phone had over the air updates, and while I paid cash for it -- I don't like these subsidized plans -- and I spent 2x what it would have cost in their store as it was unlocked, they were STILL able to disable all the features (and somehow lock the phone to their network), with the exception of bluetooth headsets...which I don't really like anyways (give me wired any day of the week...I like battery life).

        The worst part was that I bought this specifically for presentations so I could get a remote screen on the phone with the notes I needed, along with a remote control for the computer. $300 wasted. Sure, I was able to grab the firmware and reflash it, but the company would randomly update the phone again and there was little I could do about it except hope they didn't update it the night before a big presentation.

        I get pissy about my iPhone for just this reason, but at the same time, the limits Apple puts on it are FAR FAR FAR less than any company before it. When they make a bonehead moronic fucking move, I have to remind myself of Sprint....

  • by Kirin Fenrir (1001780) on Friday October 02, 2009 @08:58AM (#29615619)
    All iPhones will now play the Imperial March on startup.
  • Oh wow, that was quick.
  • by warp_kez (711090) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:00AM (#29615645)

    When most phones, including the iPhone, come into contact with anything Apple, they become crippled.

    At least we can officially call it: The Apple Effect.

  • by Nemyst (1383049) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:02AM (#29615659) Homepage
    This tag has never been more appropriate...
    • If iPhones are "defectivebydesign", that means that for people with other devices (say, Nokia N900 for example) without such defects, accessing the network will be a breeze.

      Thanks Apple !

      • by nschubach (922175)

        That's just what I was thinking. Maybe if we can get these companies to start patenting things that make life hard, other companies will be less inclined to implement said feature... The consumer wins!

  • by cjfs (1253208) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:06AM (#29615695) Homepage Journal

    They're just patenting this defect so they can sue anyone that would try to harm us.

  • by jipn4 (1367823) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:09AM (#29615715)

    Apple and any inventor should be ashamed to put their name on such a crappy patent; there is not a bit on an idea in there.

    However, if this serves to keep others from implementing carrier-based restrictions, I'm all for it: implementing this is going to hurt Apple and help everybody else.

    • by LordKronos (470910) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:35AM (#29615949) Homepage

      However, if this serves to keep others from implementing carrier-based restrictions, I'm all for it: implementing this is going to hurt Apple and help everybody else.

      That was exactly my first thought. However, you know it's not going to go down like that, because everyone else is going to want the feature. Instead, all the phones will end up with the feature anyway, and you'll just pay more for Apple's licensing fee.

    • THIS got modded Insightful?!

      1> The patent isn't on the idea of restricting phones, it's on a specific method.

      2> No, it doesn't stop carriers from placing restrictions. Nothing ever will.

      I guess actually understanding an issue before commenting is beyond the free-beer-trolls.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:10AM (#29615723) Journal
    The patent component of this news aside, we've seen iPhones turned into web servers [slashdot.org], iPhones running PHP and Apache [slashdot.org] and even playing reduced frame rate WoW on your iPhone [slashdot.org]. So, when we saw these articles it is easily suspected that they could be an abuse to the network. But how could an Apache server on my iPhone be anymore of an abuse than an Apache server on my home computer connected to Comcast? I mean, the networks are probably different but can't they institute a cap and just let my phone slow to a crawl due to limited bandwidth while everyone else doesn't even notice my usage? Are the cell phone networks really that helpless in that they cannot cap usages on cell phones?

    Either there's something about the potential abuse of cell phones on networks or Apple just wants another patent. Probably both.

    All I ask of Apple (or anyone really) is that -- if they implement this patent on a phone -- they advertise this "feature" and stay true to the numbers of what you can expect out of your potentially crippled device. My biggest problem with my ISP is that they flat out lie to me about what I'm paying for. When I see things like "unlimited data plan" on cell phones I can only laugh ...
    • by PhilHibbs (4537)

      I mean, the networks are probably different but can't they institute a cap and just let my phone slow to a crawl due to limited bandwidth while everyone else doesn't even notice my usage? Are the cell phone networks really that helpless in that they cannot cap usages on cell phones?

      No they can't. There's no way the network can prevent your phone from sending as much data as it wants. It can refuse to pass all of that data on to the internet, but by then it's too late, your phone has already taken up the wireless bandwidth. The only way to throttle your iPhone's "upload" usage is to put software on the iPhone that does it. They can throttle your download usage, but that would have little effect on a web server app.

      • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot&nexusuk,org> on Friday October 02, 2009 @11:35AM (#29617419) Homepage

        No they can't. There's no way the network can prevent your phone from sending as much data as it wants. It can refuse to pass all of that data on to the internet, but by then it's too late, your phone has already taken up the wireless bandwidth. The only way to throttle your iPhone's "upload" usage is to put software on the iPhone that does it. They can throttle your download usage, but that would have little effect on a web server app.

        Umm... Since the radio bandwidth allocation is mediated by the network, not the phone, there is nothing stopping the network simply not giving you that bandwidth. For example, in WCDMA the network hands out one or more PRNs to the device on the fly, to meet the device's bandwidth demands. The more PRNs you have allocated to you, the more bandwidth you get. Of course, the more devices there are wanting to use bandwidth, the more thinly those PRNs are spread between them. So if you have a misbehaving device, the network can simply stop allocating (as many) PRNs to it. Of course, whether they have the infrastructure in place to exercise this amount of control over the network is another question, but from a technical standpoint there is no reason why they can't do this.

        So sure, the network can't ask your IP stack to stop chucking out UDP packets (or various other protocols) as fast, but it can throttle you in the data link layer.

        As far as your web server example goes, that _is_ trivial to throttle at the IP level anywhere along the route - start chucking away a proportion of the TCP packets and the TCP stack will throttle back the transfer rate.

  • by Shag (3737) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:10AM (#29615725) Homepage

    ...on my own personal iPhone. Why? Well, it's easier than remembering how to hook it up to the 5 Google calendars I need it to sync and edit...

    Yeah. Just one phone. I don't have to be a big corporation to find tools like that useful.

    This makes me evil, right?

  • It is not "their" network. It is hosted on the radio frequencies effectively leased to them by the FCC which is ultimately owned by "we the people."

    With all that said, it is within the rights of the property owners to determine how the leased property can be used. I find that it is past time that the FCC or even congress enact rules that prevent carriers from harming consumers in much the same way that Bell Telephone abused consumers.

    Apple, it is not for the carriers to say what specific services are enab

    • It is not "their" network. It is hosted on the radio frequencies effectively leased to them by the FCC which is ultimately owned by "we the people."

      You're retarded. The FCC leased them access to radio frequencies; they, however, have their own hardware for everything else. It reaches the cell phone, comes down a wire, to their CO, and enters the POTS just like your land line. This is like saying you own your phone line, so your ISP shouldn't be able to restrict what you can send over YOUR network when you dial in.. i.e. you're retarded.

      • by erroneus (253617)

        I know... I shouldn't respond to this but I will anyway. Without the radio frequency lease, they don't have a network. It is the most critical component of their business operating model. The FCC is the governing body for that component.

        The same arguments could have been and likely were offered as excuses why Bell Telephone should be able to dictate what equipment is used on the phone networks and in fact, it is demonstrable that they owned a great deal more physical aspects of their phone network than w

        • I know... I shouldn't respond to this but I will anyway. Without the radio frequency lease, they don't have a network. It is the most critical component of their business operating model. The FCC is the governing body for that component.

          Oh okay, I get you. The Sun is a universal resource and owned by all of us, so anything sunlight falls on should automatically belong to We, the People, and not be so-called "Private Property" bullshit that Corporate Greed wants you to believe in.

          Thanks for clearing that up.

  • by agorist_apostle (1491899) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:15AM (#29615767)
    ...does anyone else ever get the feeling that there is a whole cabal of businesses, government organizations, etc, out there just trying to manage the piss out of them? Managed content, managed hardware, managed media...there is too much management...
    • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:30AM (#29615893) Homepage Journal

      The secret no one is supposed to talk about is that "management" is where all the money is going. Whether it is government, health care, education, telecommunications, insurance... you name it. All the money is going to the middle men who don't know how do anything but push papers and write contracts. There is no value added by these people at all. The health care industry is just full of people working in "business" areas. When I lived in Indianapolis an office I went to when I was sick had I think 3 doctors and about 12 people working in the office in various positions. Health insurance companies are chock full of people who know almost nothing but are making huge checks. Public school districts have huge multi-story "administration" buildings full of people who don't teach. That's where all the money is going... start hiring people who actually know some stuff and actually contribute to the bottom line and we'll start to move in the right direction again.

      • by c_forq (924234) <forquerc+slash@gmail.com> on Friday October 02, 2009 @10:01AM (#29616253)
        The problem is that in most cases these people are essential. They know something, just not in the field they are working in. I know a person who worked in one of those school administrative offices, they were paid more than any teacher in the district - but they brought over 2 million dollars into the district. Knowing how to write and win grants is very valuable. Likewise with hospitals, knowing how to make a treatment covered by medicare, and having knowledge of the multitude of forms out there (both government and insurance) is very valuable. Maybe it shouldn't be, but there also shouldn't be the Darfur situation and abject poverty in the US, but there is.
    • by c0d3g33k (102699)

      ...does anyone else ever get the feeling that there is a whole cabal of businesses, government organizations, etc, out there just trying to monetize the piss out of them? Monetized content, monetized hardware, monetized media...there is too much monetization...

      There - fixed that for you.

  • by axlrosen (88070) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:15AM (#29615771) Homepage

    If you don't like a company crippling a product, what are the alternatives?

    Well, one alternative is that the company couple sell different physical products with the different capabilities. Of course, that would increase costs, so both the crippled and uncrippled versions would cost more.

    Or, the company could only sell uncrippled hardware. Now, what price would they sell it for? They certainly can't sell it for the lower price of a crippled product, because they'd lose money. So now you've lost the choice between a lower-price/lower-featured product, and a higher-price/higher-featured product. In other words, richer people win, poorer people lose.

    So we should recognize that there's a benefit to being able to sell different sets of features to different consumers. More people get what they want at a price they can afford.

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:16AM (#29615783)

    Now lets be realistic here people.
    You get a Cell Phone and most of them even the low end systems are more powerful then computers 10 years ago. So most phones can do a lot of stuff.
    Now you have different carriers. They can Suck and have a small limited network where only some services will properly run. So if you had a phone that can do anything on a network that cant when you try to do something that the network can't handle you get an error, or it just doens't work. The geeks like us will see this as either a reason to switch carriers or hack the system to get it to work. But for average joe it will be like. Why offer us the feature if we can't use it, or it is broken so the entire system is broken.
    So if your carrier will not support the feature then it shouldn't be on the phone. So people will be happy with your product as it works. And if they see someone on an different network with the same product and there is a new feature then you think about switching the carrier not the phone technology. So if the iPhone will be on different networks and there is one willing to support different features you need. You can switch to that vender without thinking man this iPhone sucks because I cannot tether with my computer. While the truth is the iPhone can teather it is just you stupid carrier who won't let you.

    • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:33AM (#29615921) Homepage Journal

      The parent post would actually make sense if Apple and AT&T didn't enforce a false monopoly on the market. This is another reason that exclusivity deals should be illegal.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rufty_tufty (888596)

      I think that carriers and vendors in general see phone features as content. i.e. the Ipod is capable of playing any MP3, however that does not give you the right to play any MP3 without paying for it, consumers are used to paying for content and if they can be persuaded to see GPS functionality as content then that makes it easier to milk the cow that is the consumer. It is in many corporations interests to see applications and indeed all features viewed by the consumer in a similar way i.e. everything of v

  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:21AM (#29615809)

    If Apple successfully patents this, it'll be harder for other people to do it. Why is this bad, again?

  • I could agree with this if and only if they are giving you the phone for free and you are only buying the service. But when you are expected to buy the hardware, it is no one's business what you do with it. Too many companiess want to control what you do with the gadgets that you buy. Why are we allowing this in our society?

    Crazy scenario, if you buy a toaster with a computer chip in it that has a little app that holds memory of who you are and how you like your toast toasted, should we then allow the co

  • Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by patrickthbold (1351131) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:31AM (#29615895)
    So if I want a phone that isn't crippled, all's I have to do is not buy an iphone? GO PATENTS!
  • ... just with the caveat that they can't license it to anyone else, and they must sue any infringers who cripple phones also.
  • by russotto (537200) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:34AM (#29615933) Journal

    Is "ON A CELLPHONE" the new "ON THE INTERNET"? A quick glance over the claims reveals nothing that hasn't been done with DRM before in other settings.

    • Is "ON A CELLPHONE" the new "ON THE INTERNET"? A quick glance over the claims reveals nothing that hasn't been done with DRM before in other settings.

      You're right, it should never have issued as a patent!

      Oh, wait, it hasn't. Settle down.

  • Hey folks, you all have a path open to you if you don't like the way Apple and AT&T manage the IPhone. Simply design, build, market, and sell a competing phone and service that is as popular as the IPhone. What's holding you back?
    • by c0d3g33k (102699)

      What's holding you back?

      Millions of dollars and man-decades of investment plus the likelihood of a patent arsenal that would ensure the investment is a failure. Or to be more clear: Lack of an even playing field.

    • by ZekoMal (1404259) on Friday October 02, 2009 @10:21AM (#29616485)

      Hey folks, you all have a path open to you if you don't like the way Apple and AT&T manage the IPhone. Simply design, build, market, and sell a competing phone and service that is as popular as the IPhone. What's holding you back?

      Yeah, you're right! I'll just use my millions of dollars and my full team of dedicated programmers as well as my factories and create an entirely new phone that doesn't go against any of the hundreds of patents while being competitively priced, then pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into advertising to get as much known about my phone as possible, then either find an existing company that has cell phone towers up that agree with our methods (not gonna happen) or build our own cell phone towers so we don't have to pay for the privilege to be screwed over whilst jumping through dozens of government hoops!

      Wow, it'll be so easy!

  • WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by C_Kode (102755) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:38AM (#29615977) Journal

    Man, I hate Micros... err Apple. Actually, I think I just hate Steve Jobs. Most of Apple's fascist type behavior appears to be coming from him.

  • Provisioning Computing Devices should be Poisoning Computing Devices

  • Hasn't this sort of thing been done for years? I bought a Motorola Razr phone with AT&T some time back and a number of the standard features were disabled. Verizon takes phones all the time and mucks with the software to disable features, often so that they can rent the features back to you at some cost. So, what's new about Apple's approach that makes it patentable?

    The only thin that I can think of is that traditionally carriers would "provision" the phones by licensing the phone's firmware then writin

  • As a former Motorola mobile devices employee, I can attest to that. All cell makers have provisioning, it is nothing new, interesting, unique, or patentable (in my opinion). Just another example of Apple thinking that it excretes golden feces...
  • Tie up a crappy idea in lawsuits over bad patents.

  • "Method for intentionally introducing flaws in products."

  • ... that's what Apple are showing themselves to be. If, occasionally, I feel interested in their innovative products, this kind of news is what always keeps me from acting upon it.

    It seems that Apple has become too successful for its own good -- somethings that seems to affect (virtually?) all major corporations these days. At first they start out with a cool product and they're good at keeping their customers happy about it. Then they become a success and make a lot of money. But, almost inevitably the c
  • For once I am wholly in favor of a patent: the one just obtained by Apple on limiting the functionality of mobile devices.

    In my opinion, the license fees for the monetization of this proud piece of Intellectual Property cannot be set too high. A license fee of 15$ per appliance for any other manufacturers wishing to license this remarkable piece of Intellectual Property seems wholly appropriate.

    Incidentally, I do not own an iPhone or any other mobile communication device manufactured by Apple and I defi

  • by jDeepbeep (913892) on Friday October 02, 2009 @10:23AM (#29616507)
    There's an app for that.
  • This is bogus. When you buy an iPhone you generally pay full price. It's not subsidized so the carrier has no $(*&^ing business crippling the phone, and Apple has no business crippling it on behalf of the carrier. It's disgusting that Apple is using tethering as one of the major selling points of the iPhone (which is odd, since I can tether my ancient Samsung "Sync" without any problem - AND get more bandwidth through it!) and they cripple it with the OS 3.1 update. That is a bait-and-switch regardless

  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Friday October 02, 2009 @01:23PM (#29618837)

    Do No Evil - unless your Apple

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