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Apple Chief Patent Lawyer Leaves After Android Loss 101

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the we're-all-friends-here dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "PC Magazine reports that Richard Lutton, Apple's current chief patent lawyer, is reportedly leaving the company after failing to block Android manufacturers from using iPhone-like features. 'It's possible that Apple's leadership wants the patent department to become more effective, especially in terms of litigation,' says intellectual property analyst Florian Mueller. 'They are probably disappointed that the first ITC complaint against HTC didn't go too well.' ... In addition Apple is aggressively seeking an injunction on Samsung's flagship Galaxy lineup." Samsung also happens to be displeased with Apple using their former legal counsel.
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Apple Chief Patent Lawyer Leaves After Android Loss

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  • by chispito (1870390) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @02:27PM (#36737890)

    'It's possible that Apple's leadership wants the patent department to become more effective, especially in terms of litigation,' says intellectual property analyst Florian Mueller.

    Hopefully they canned him because he counseled them to go after bogus patent infringement suits.

    • by Kenja (541830)
      This is Apple we're talking about. Unless he traveled back in time to tell them to go after bogus patent infringements they where doing it long before he was involved.
      • by Moryath (553296)

        Apple has quite a history of filing frivolous lawsuits. Then again, so do half the companies on the planet.

        Remember the great visual aid roadmap [cnn.com] to help people make sense out of the last round of cell-phone-related patent lawsuits? I think it needs updating.

      • This is Apple we're talking about. Unless he traveled back in time...

        This is Apple we're talking about. They have Time Machine.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      They probably didn't "can" the guy. He probably left of his own accord. Everybody knows Apple treats everyone well. It's part of their holistic approach to deliver pleasant experiences across the board.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Virtucon (127420)

      What makes them bogus? If you have a patent it is perfectly fine for you to go after an infringing entity. It's up to the courts to decide based on the evidence provided if there was indeed an infringement. If there has been infringement the court has a latitude of remedies available under law. What's usually missing is the remedies for patent trolls who produce nothing and just own intellectual property. That will require congress to grow a pair and finally act.

         

      • by erroneus (253617)

        That would be the opinion of a judge and/or jury on a case in which the validity or applicability of a patent is called into question as part of a defense while being sued.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        If you have a patent it is perfectly fine for you to go after an infringing entity. It's up to the courts to decide based on the evidence provided if there was indeed an infringement.

        If I have a crowbar, it is perfectly fine for me to use it on people who abuse the patent system. It's up to the courts to decide based on the evidence provided if my actions are a crime or justifiable homicide.

    • Or may be because they are giant APPHOLES?

  • He wanted to leave but wanted to see the case through. Or who knows?

    So instead of speculating on future Apple product we are now speculating on HR moves?

  • by Virtucon (127420) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @02:33PM (#36737986)

    There will only be cockroaches and lawyers left. Of the lawyers that will be left, about 50% will be ambulance chasers, 30% patent trolls and 20% lobbyists.

    • by cyberchondriac (456626) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @02:37PM (#36738046) Journal

      There will only be cockroaches and lawyers left.

      There's a difference?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @02:44PM (#36738194)

        Stop insulting the cockroaches.

      • Well, when someone sues your arse off, will you run to a cockroach or to a lawyer? And which one would you suddenly find useful?
        • I'll do the same thing I've done in the past when encountering legal problems: use my almost human ability to read and research so that I may present and win a case.

          The average lawyer and the average computer programmer share an otherwise unmatched skill at overrating their abilities.

          • by Chirs (87576)

            Sorry, I have a family with small children, a full time job, friends, and a house to take care of. I don't have time to essentially go to law school as well.

            • The fact that people have to go to law school to understand what the law says a lot about how things (dont) work with any government, and have never actually worked (civilization invented writing and, instantly, there were the lawyers).

              • by jdgeorge (18767)

                You can generally understand what the laws say without attending law school. Education in the law is needed to understand how to work within a framework of legal processes.

              • No, it says a lot about the fact that things usually never are simple or straightforward, and that the law reflects the fact.
            • Yeah, that's a problem with filling your life up completely with various things all of which you consider impossible to postpone: your life is already so full up with mundane tasks done for others that the moment some unexpected problem comes along which requires more than a modicum of extra effort, you're fucked. It's the way the modern Western world was built.

          • I take it you are a programmer then, egregiously overrating your ability to represent yourself?
            • I don't put any rating on myself. Where I stand a chance of applying my own intellect and/or dexterity to something, I'll do it. Where I know that mere effort won't get me anywhere (I have neither the manual skill nor the operating table to perform even the simplest surgery), I'm happy to delegate.

              But in no case would I assert myself competent enough to take another's place, i.e. represent another person. That's where the overrating takes place. When you base your country's comfort on slave labour (in the F

      • by Virtucon (127420)

        A single cockroach has six legs, you can use that to distinguish one cockroach vs. one lawyer. However three lawyers will have six legs so you'll
        need to distinguish them individually unless they're in a human centipede configuration. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Human_Centipede_(First_Sequence) [wikipedia.org]

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        There's a difference?

        One has more morality than a politician, the other has *slightly* more morality than a politician.

      • Yep. The one is a hated pest, the other is an insect.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @02:34PM (#36738002)

    Suck it.

    Love,

    Android

    P.S.

    I am banging Windows Phone 7 on the side.

  • Samsung also happens to be displeased with Apple using their former legal counsel.

    Samsung should hire Richard Lutton then.

  • Apple playing dirty (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gubers33 (1302099) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @02:37PM (#36738056)
    Using Samsung's former counsel is just plain dirty. Apple has an internal legal department and is purposely hiring lawyers who have inside information on Samsung. I mean come on, Apple is starting to act like Microsoft. Jobs wants anything that uses the same technologies as the iPad or iPhone to not exist because he sees as a threat for good reason. Apples only makes one model of each and there is little room for innovation. Android on the other hand has multiple manufacturers making the phones and tablets and because of they they are creating phones that can display HD and shoot video in 3D. I mean this getting shady in using former representation and then citing the Tariff Act of 1930 against HTC. I think Steve Jobs might react the same way as Eric in Billy Madison if he had to define "Business ethics".
    • It's a dog-eat-dog world out there.
    • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @03:32PM (#36739002) Journal

      Apples only makes one model of each and there is little room for innovation.

      Even worse, Apple makes 50% of their revenue - and over 50% of their profits - from a SINGLE product in a SINGLE market (iPhone in smartphones). ANY loss in growth or actual loss in marketshare in that market or with that product means a direct, corresponding 2:1 loss in their revenue and profit (lose 2% in iPhone sales, lose 1% of your revenue).

      Apple pretty much has a single product - the iPhone. Everything else totaled is the minority revenue and profit generator for Apple. If they take ANY hits to the iPhone, they're in a very bad position. This is why Apple is getting so aggressive about cell phones - they are so dependent on that single product in a single market that they cannot afford any loss in growth of that product in that market.

      • What you say is true today. Given the iPad's growth and its dominance of the niche it essentially created, I doubt it will be true a year from now.

      • iPhone is two products (3GS and 4), and the category also counts the iPod Touch, which sells more units than the iPhone.

        Certainly a large category for Apple, but most of it is driven by classic iPod users migrating to the iPod Touch, which is a pretty safe market from Android. It's not really the situation you imply.

        • The iPod touch it's a pretty good "palm". For those like me that don't like smartphones and have been using Android tablets for some time (w/out complains) the iPod touch it's an interesting option nonetheless.

        • by gubers33 (1302099)
          That is not two products. It is one product and it's new release. It is like saying IE7 and IE8 are different products, it is the same product different version.
      • So, it sounds like you're saying Apple would crumble if the iPhone business fell apart. You do realize that the iPhone didn't even exist until 2007, right, and that Apple's entry into the market was derided by pretty much all of the big players? The iPhone has seen some explosive growth, to be sure, but Apple has shown that it has an ability to reinvent itself quickly in the last decade and a half.

        15 years ago, they were on the verge of bankruptcy. Then they came out with some colorful computers and a 21st

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      It seems to me that having the same exact attorneys on the case is a clear violation of legal standards. The whole point of having a lawyer is that you can confide in them. To have that lawyer turn around and file suit against you in a matter similar to one they represented you in completely violates the attorney-client privilege. Obviously I don't know the details here, but this sounds like the sort of thing that could even get somebody disbarred.

      I'm sure the judge will investigate and bar anybody with

  • While Apple has done a lot of innovation in the previous years, it seems now they started to lose the innovation battle.

    Since they can't innovate in tech anymore they're probably thinking they should try to innovate in the legal area... let's see how will the Apple fans digest that thought...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tyrione (134248)

      While Apple has done a lot of innovation in the previous years, it seems now they started to lose the innovation battle. Since they can't innovate in tech anymore they're probably thinking they should try to innovate in the legal area... let's see how will the Apple fans digest that thought...

      Thanks for the laugh. Apple has the most lawsuits filed against it in the entire Industry. It's not because it's running around filing frivolous lawsuits. It's because it's innovating and people see it making massive inroads into areas once controlled by other players. With the heavy investment in R&D being so efficient at Apple resulting in a massive increase in Apple Patents they are required to defend them or lose them.

      • by X.25 (255792)

        It's because it's innovating and people see it making massive inroads into areas once controlled by other players

        No, really, please tell me what is it that Apple innovated? What R&D are you talking about?

        • No, really, please tell me what is it that Apple innovated?

          Well, multitouch screens... oh no, that was Microsoft. Maybe tablet PCs? Oh, no wait, the first one of those I saw ran Windows. Well they at least created a whole new OS a few years ba... damn.

          • by geekoid (135745)

            The popular smart phone. Innovation does NOT make something completely new and untouched by anything every thought of before.

            As far as tablets? that could be Elisha Gray. Something more modern? the RAND tablet/
            The there was GO... which is where MS stole technology to begin their own tablet product.

            So yeah, not a lot of innovation from MS either.

            MS and Apple just happened to be around when manufacturing techniques are at a place where previous good ideas who failed do to lack in infrastructure can now be mad

            • My old and trusty, still working and 3 years ago retired Sony Ericsson P910 would like to have a word w/ anyone claiming that Apple invented smartphones. Palm Treos and BBs would like to join the conversation too.

          • No, really, please tell me what is it that Apple innovated?

            Well, multitouch screens... oh no, that was Microsoft. Maybe tablet PCs? Oh, no wait, the first one of those I saw ran Windows. Well they at least created a whole new OS a few years ba... damn.

            Multitouch screen from Microsoft? Oh, you mean that huge rig with a camera - stick that in your mobile device and drag it around.

            As for tablet PCs - yeah, Microsoft had them before, several times in fact. Apple was the one who didn't screw them up - several times.

            • Multitouch screen from Microsoft? Oh, you mean that huge rig with a camera

              No, I meant multitouch capacitance touchscreens. You know, what phones use.

              Apple was the one who didn't screw them up

              *cough* Newton *cough*

              • Multitouch screen from Microsoft? Oh, you mean that huge rig with a camera

                No, I meant multitouch capacitance touchscreens. You know, what phones use.

                So you "remember" things - have you seen a doctor about that?

                Apple was the one who didn't screw them up

                *cough* Newton *cough*

                Which outsold all tablet PCs attempts combined several times. Mostly because it was far better than all of them combined.

  • by Trufagus (1803250) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @02:42PM (#36738144)

    It's starting to appear that Florian Mueller is spamming /.?

    He was long ago discredited, and yet his useless posts are showing up quite regularly as the source of /. articles. Presumably he is using /. to increase his pagerank.

    • It would be marginally more correct to say that Florian Mueller is spamming PC Magazine, since the reason he's mentioned in the /. summary is because he was quoted in TFA.

    • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @04:32PM (#36739824)

      Exactly what I'm thinking. I've read coverage of this on 2-3 other sites today, and none of them indicated there was anything unusual about what was going on or that anything should be read into it. When higher-ups at Apple leave on poor terms, it's much more dramatic than this. You don't even have to look hard to find examples, since the breakups were so explosive. There's Fred Anderson, the former CFO and interim CEO who got embroiled with the SEC and made accusations against Steve Jobs (blasphemy!); Jon Rubenstein, who became the CEO of Palm and publicly made some harsh jabs at Apple while launching webOS; and Mark Papermaster, who was forced out during the antennagate brouhaha with the iPhone 4 last year.

      The timing with the HTC ruling that didn't go their way is likely coincidental, since it's just one minor ruling amongst dozens of cases that they have going on. You don't oust someone that high up over something that small, and Apple wins at least as often as it loses in court, so there's no reason his departure should signal internal legal troubles at Apple. Hell, we even had an article on /. just yesterday about how they fired off another round of attacks at HTC, and it mentioned that they had made similar attacks against Samsung not long before that.

      The guy probably just left because he got a better job offer. That does happen, as most of us here should know.

    • Cites Florian Mueller; Didn't Read
    • Even the BBC is quoting him now, and The Register regularly quotes him and peddles his shit, although that's less of a suprise as The Register always relies on shills and people long discredited and full of shit to backup it's falsehoods- from music industry puppets, to discredited climate change denialists, to irrelevant military "experts" it's less of a suprise there. The BBC though? I'm dissapointed to say the least.

  • I stopped reading this trash as soon as I realized he was involved in the article.
  • You are having a laugh, right? "Paid Microsoft mouth piece" is a lot more accurate. Whatever happens at any Microsoft competitor, this guy will put a negative spin on it.
    • Florian Mueller is as much expert on IP as I am an expert on Formula One racing because I played Gran Turismo once.
  • In the article, Apple has not disclosed why the executive is leaving. It may be for all sorts of reasons including more time with family, better opportunity, he hates Steve Jobs, whatever. The only source cited about the possible Android link is speculation by Florian Mueller and he provides no basis for that supposition. His guess is as good as anyone else's but it is still a guess.
  • I don't like the Apple mindset, and I use an Android phone. But I have to admit that the original iPhone was revolutionary. Don't they deserve a patent for that?
    • by geekoid (135745)

      hmmm, yes and no. They probably have a legitimate patent claim on some technology in the phone, and possibly some manufacturing techniques, but a patent on 'smart phone'? no.

  • How do you patent a Chief? Isnt there decades of prior art?
  • I just go a Samsung I9000 Smartphone and I'm very impressed. I think the IPhone is good, too, but it costs twice as much. Apples motto seems to be "If you can't beat 'em, sue 'em".

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