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Apple Hardware

Via Files Suit Against Apple 262

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-the-merrier dept.
crookedvulture writes "Add chipmaker Via to the list of companies filing legal suit against Apple. Via owns a number of fundamental technology patents inherited from Centaur, and it's already forced Intel to grant an ongoing x86 license. Via also has a vested interest; CEO Wenchi Chen is married to the head of HTC, which Apple sued for patent infringement last March."
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Via Files Suit Against Apple

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  • Release the Kraken! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 22, 2011 @08:26PM (#37486552)

    Surely Apple did not think that they were the only ones in the market with a patent portfolio.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Considering they are one of the most frequently sued companies in the tech industry, it's highly unlikely they hadn't noticed others hold patents.

    • by jimpop (27817) *

      Apple is late to the IP game. Still, when it's all said and done, the consumer is the loser, and will always be as long as mankind can patent ideas.

      • ... the consumer is the loser...

        Unless, of course, she is also a lawyer...

        • by jimpop (27817) *


        • by dimeglio (456244)

          The only people who will get anything out of this are lawyers. Even if Apple is 100% guilty and infringing, a judge would never issue an injunction if it means the death of Apple. All that can happen is they will have to settle resulting in a "reasonable" amount of money exchanged between the two.

          Don't make things more dramatic than they are.

      • How is Apple late to the IP game? Remember Apple suing GEM and all that?

        • That wasn't patent law. The GEM lawsuits were over copyright before it was established in court (in cases such as Lotus v. Borland) that user interface has a thin copyright. Much of it is a method of operation more than it is a pictorial or graphic work, apart from specific graphical elements such as the Aqua buttons. I guess the confusion [pineight.com] between copyright and patent is one reason why Richard Stallman of Free Software Foundation rails against the term "intellectual property" [gnu.org].
          • by Osgeld (1900440)

            they sure as fuck tried to patent pull down menus well before that

            ""In September 1985, Apple lawyers warned Bill Gates that Windows infringed on Apple copyrights and patents, and that his corporation had stolen Apple's trade secrets. Windows had similar drop-down menus, tiled windows and mouse support as Apple's operating system. Gates decided to make an offer to license features of Apple's OS. Apple agreed and a contract was drawn up. A couple of years later though Bill Gates will have again copyrights inf

    • by msauve (701917) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @09:38PM (#37487096)
      Apple is playing a dangerous game. With their very limited range of products, they're much more exposed than most companies. Sue Samsung? Android and tablets are a small fraction of Samsung's business, they'd hardly notice if they were gone - if Apple's iOS were shut down for patent infringement (iPods and iPhones), they'd be screwed. HTC is more dependent on Android, but still has more to fall back on (proportionally) than Apple does.
    • by Gaygirlie (1657131) <(moc.liamtoh) (ta) (eilrigyag)> on Thursday September 22, 2011 @10:39PM (#37487442) Homepage

      Surely Apple did not think that they were the only ones in the market with a patent portfolio.

      That's what I've been wondering about. Apple are suing all kinds of mobile device manufacturers left and right in hopes of being able to bar them from markets and to remain on top themselves. But they MUST have known that once they start suing the other big players they'll start pushing back and not only the ones being sued but also all the others too just to ensure that Apple won't win, otherwise Apple would just come after the rest later on. And well, gee, that's exactly what's happening: companies that haven't yet been sued are taking the initiative and suing first. Offense is the best defense and so on.

      So what's Apple's angle here? They stand to lose quite a lot of money, and if the sh*t really hits the fan their stuff could be barred from the market and a large portion of their patent portfolio could get invalidated. So is there a plan behind this, or was it just simply we've-grown-so-big-we-think-we-can-do-anything - type of brainfart? I personally believe it's more towards the brainfart - situation here and things just got out of hand, but I suppose we'll see how this giant game of chess plays out.

      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @10:51PM (#37487534) Journal

        I don't think Apple expects to permanently ban them from the market. It just wants to keep competitors wrapped up in court cases until Apple can scoop them with its newest offerings. I'm sure it knows full well most of its suits are sheer garbage that ultimately will fail. But ultimately could mean what? 6 to 24 months? Oh my, look at that, the iPad 3 and the iPhone 5 come out in those kinds of Windows, meanwhile the competition has a product to bring to a market but can't because of what amounts of a strategically placed nuisance suit.

        Of course, if Apple suddenly finds its own products being delayed in the same manner, or worse, but actual hard technology patents, then yes, they could seriously fuck themselves over. But that's fine. If everyone eventually ends this evil little war in a compromise, the consumer will win. I just hope all sides lose massive amounts of money in the process. Unfortunately, the lawyers will get rich(er).

        • I love Apple Computer.
        • by tknd (979052) on Friday September 23, 2011 @05:07AM (#37488950)

          If everyone eventually ends this evil little war in a compromise, the consumer will win. I just hope all sides lose massive amounts of money in the process. Unfortunately, the lawyers will get rich(er).

          I don't understand how you come to this logic. Previously nobody was actively attacking each other with patent suits, Apple let the cat out of the bag, and now pretty much every player now has an extra line item called lawyer-ing up on their expense sheet as well as all future requirements having an additional risk item called "patent violation risk". Any engineer knows that the more requirements you tag on, the more expensive the product will get. But this one is a double-whammy because not only does the engineering team have to design in attempts to avoid/develop patents, but now the lawyer team gets bigger to defend against patent attacks.

          All this means is delayed products, less freedom for companies to develop products, and more stand-offs between companies. The consumer is never going to benefit. The products will be delayed or put off of the market. The next generation products will be more expensive. All future products will come with their own awkwardness just because of these patent wars.

          Consider this. The top two manufacturers for cameras, Canon and Nikon, don't name their "modes" identically though they should. Canon labels shutter mode "Tv". Nikon labels it "S". Additionally, the exposure bias meters are opposite. Nobody shares lens mounts. Each mfg makes their own. The result? You buy into a set of lenses and if you want to switch you have to sell all of your gear and go buy into a new set of lenses.

          Macs and Windows PCs had the same awkwardness too. ctrl+c for windows. cmd+c (alt key location for PCs) for macs.

          You can see this sort of non-sense going on everywhere in new technology. ebooks: Amazon kindle's only do kindle drm formats and pdfs, everyone else has their own drm format. All of the streaming video content services and random support with tvs and tv boxes (roku, boxee, apple tv, etc).

          It's a giant mess and the consumer definitely isn't winning. The consumer was in an awesome position back when we were still using vhs and cassette tapes. You could take that stupid tape and a gazillion different devices played it from that giant boom box, to the school's cheezy tape player, do your car radio. Same with vhs. These days? Fuck you.

          Apple knows this and they're trying to corner the market while they can. They don't want a race to the bottom but that's exactly what would benefit the consumer the most. While they certainly aren't the only company attempting this (sony and bluray, amazon and kindle, etc) they're certainly one of the most significant (ios apps).

      • Americans are born with a great arrogance. Take MS and how certain it was that when it was gracious enough to offer an OS for mobile devices, the phone companies would come knocking at its door... and they didn't... HTC got their big break as a chosen partner (meaning MS payed them a shit load of money) to make for instance the XDA and HTC used that money to become an android phone maker...

        It seems MS at no point was capable of thinking that the entire world was NOT waiting at its feet to release its next b

  • by syousef (465911) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @08:27PM (#37486566) Journal

    It seems during this economic downturn companies have started throwing caution to the wind in an attempt to ravenously feed on each others still warm carcasses. What you'll end up with is a period of heavily suppressed innovation and increasingly locked down and crippled devices, software and services no one will be willing to part with money for. It's all going to shit!

    • It seems during this economic downturn companies have started throwing caution to the wind in an attempt to ravenously feed on each others still warm carcasses. What you'll end up with is a period of heavily suppressed innovation and increasingly locked down and crippled devices, software and services no one will be willing to part with money for. It's all going to shit!

      Nah, just too many lawyers. Don't make it any more complicated than need be.

    • It seems during this economic downturn companies have started throwing caution to the wind in an attempt to ravenously feed on each others still warm carcasses.

      What warm carcasses? Companies have been reporting massive profits, Apple certainly not the least of them. Companies are sitting on gi-normous piles of cash. Unemployment is high but so are profits. There is a lot of uncertainty (economic, consumer demand, political, healthcare, etc) in the economy so companies are keeping their powder dry and waiting for things to settle down a bit.

      All these lawsuits are because we are at a tipping point where PCs are becoming less important and mobile devices are rapi

      • Companies are sitting on gi-normous piles of cash.

        So we need to cut the taxes so that they will start hiring again! Really!!! Anything else will doom America!!!!!

      • by sjames (1099)

        All these lawsuits are because we are at a tipping point where PCs are becoming less important and mobile devices are rapidly becoming more important. We're simply seeing companies fighting to establish dominance in this new world. Despite the patent system being rather broken, companies pretty much are forced to use every weapon at their disposal. I don't see this changing anytime soon.

        Some are forced to counterattack, some choose to start things. It *IS* a choice and they will always choose whatever wrings the most pennies out of people even if they have to destroy the world to do it.

        That's why they need to be reigned in HARD.

    • by bky1701 (979071)
      I see this more of a case of people in glass houses throwing stones. Apple cannot be the bully and not expect to eventually have someone stand up to them. Patent trolls will be trolled themselves, it's just how it works out. However, the number of patent and copyright trolls is definitely increasing, with even semi-respectable companies joining the fray.
    • In this case (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @09:14PM (#37486950)

      It was Apple's mouth writing checks their ass can't cash. Apple is real worried: Android is a real threat to them. Their iDevice market is where their big profits are, they don't have a "what's next" lined up right now and Android is encroaching in a big way. In particular, HTC and Samsung have been since they've smoothed out android's UI and made it even more user friendly (if bloated).

      So Apple went all lawsuit happy. They want to suppress any competition. turns out, the competition isn't so happy about that and is hitting back. Hard. In the case of VIA part of it is the relation with HTC, the other part is I'm sure VIA has an interest in the tablet market. VIA has never done well at the high end and so has stopped trying, but they do low end pretty well. Maybe they want in to the tablet market.

      When you start suing everyone, expect to see the same in return.

      • Their iDevice market is where their big profits are, they don't have a "what's next" lined up right now

        I think you nailed it. Apple led the market in pushing laptops. Their laptop sales passed desktop sales about 2 years before the rest of the market caught up. By the time laptops started to become more of a commodity item, they owned the high-end MP3 player market. Before this started to be eaten by cheaper alternatives, they entered the mobile phone market, where they only have about 5% of the total market but something like 60% of the total profit. That's a common position for Apple, but it's precar

      • by torako (532270)

        The big question is: Is Android encroaching? I'm not sure the answer is that easy.

        Have a look at the two graphs in these posts on Asymco: http://www.asymco.com/2011/08/22/nokia-vs-android/ [asymco.com] and http://www.asymco.com/2011/08/05/the-competition/ [asymco.com] .

        Android is growing tremendously, but it doesn't seem to eat away any of Apple's marketshare. In fact, it looks like a lot of dumbphones are replaced by new Android devices and that Android is eating up Nokia's former share in the smartphone sector.

        Another interesting

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      When times are tough you do everything you can to knock the other guy out of the game entirely because you can THEN fight over the still-warm carcass, e.g. the customer base.

      Perhaps we should look at who bought the legislation that created this situation.

    • by chrb (1083577)

      It's not just you. The fundamental problem is that there is a conflict between global capitalism and the patent regime. The patent regime is hundreds of years old, and developed from the rule of Kings, who could use their power to bestow monopoly rights on their allies in certain areas of production. Think about that - the whole system was based around an exclusive right to manufacture within the boundaries and legal jurisdiction of a single nation. This kind of worked, because the existence of a single leg

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Had I known this 10 years ago when I started going to school to get my degree, I'd have gone into pre-law, and be able to retire in just a couple years after a successful career in software patent litigation...

    • by microbox (704317)

      It's all going to shit!

      And the cost of litigation is tabulated into the GDP. America is getting richer!

    • Just enjoy it, since there's nothing else you can do. Sit back and enjoy the show. Grab some popcorn.
    • There are two kinds of people in this world -- people who are worth suing and people who aren't. I assume that most SlashDotters fall into the latter category and flame on about it out of jealousy. They should have faith, however, that someday they will hit it big and, YES, get the shit sued out of them. Then they will know that they have arrived . . . in court.
  • Seriously, I think we need a person full time just to make spreadsheets and graphs of who is suing whom at this point. Soon, it'll be easy. Just put: "*".
  • ARM (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @08:30PM (#37486590) Homepage

    Shouldn't they be suing ARM as Apple licensed it from them?

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      Your line of thinking is the same sort that thinks that Microsoft should be suing Google, the authors of Android, and not HTC/etc .. the manufacturers of Android products that supposedly infringe.

      Its like suing Linus because a software shop wrote a program that runs on Linux/x86 that infringes on a patent.. its stupid. ARM doesnt manufacture anything that infringes.. hell, they dont manufacture anything at all.
      • by Albanach (527650)

        I think by this point ARM will also have a decent portfolio of patents that would ensure other chip manufacturers probably don't want to go down that road.

        • by Rockoon (1252108)
          If ARM was to make these chips, they would license the patents necessary, probably through cross-licensing.

          ARM isnt making the infringing chips in question, tho.. Apple is making them and Apple didn't license the patents. Thats why Apple is in some serious trouble this time.

          If Apple could hit back at VIA in order to minimize damages, things wouldn't be so bad. Unfortunately for Apple, they dont. Even Intel couldn't defend themselves, and they have truckloads of relevant patents.
    • by jbeaupre (752124)

      No, patents don't prevent transfer of knowledge (the license from ARM). They allow the patent owner to prevent someone else from using the knowledge.

      35 U.S.C. 271 Infringement of patent.

      (a) Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States, or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent.

    • by chrb (1083577)
      No, Apple licenses the CPU core from ARM, but Apple then integrates this core into its own SoC platform, has the physical chips manufactured by its foundry partner (Samsung!), and - most importantly - sells the product into the marketplace. It's the same reason that SCO targeted Red Hat customers instead of Red Hat, and the same reason Apple targeted Samsung and HTC instead of Google...
  • There is a difference.

    • Exactly.
      Apple uses mainboards that are nearly vanilla Intel spec... They just make them a bit smaller than other companies. Who is VIA after? Apple doesn't use hardware different from anybody else... And if VIA already has a license with Intel what is there sueing Intel's customer? Unless they're after nVidia?

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by scottbomb (1290580)

      Fine with me. Any lawsuit against Apple is good news, IMO.

    • by Stumbles (602007)
      Well ol Daryl Mcbide had a "vested interest" in SCO; oh yeah he was also the CEO. CEO's DO NOT NEED A WIFE to make decisions based on emotions or any flitting human trait, they can fuck up just fine on their own.
  • They are suing Apple over things that are obviously in the ARM core they licensed.
    • by hedwards (940851)

      Not necessarily, it all depends upon the terms that they were licensed under. It wouldn't surprise me if there was some language in the license that allows VIA to revoke the license to use those patents in cases where the licensee is suing allies for allegedly infringing upon their patents.

      And unlike trademarks, there is no legal requirement that I know of that a party enforces ones patent protections for them to remain available.

  • by blair1q (305137)

    My connection's a little lossy today. I read that as "VIA...patents...Centaur!"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 22, 2011 @08:52PM (#37486802)

    In a galaxy far away, large corporate conglomerates wage battle to gain dominance in the vastness of space. The only hope of survival are a small, but pathetic force of Jedi nerds who resist the insidious marketing ploys and legal shenanigans of these dominating legal war mongrels. Will these Jedi nerds prevail? Stay tuned for continuing episodes of the Phone Wars.

    Other quotes:

    "These are not the phones you are looking for"

    "Apple. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy"

  • by lastx33 (2097770)
    The patent business is completely mad. Eventually (not so far in the future methinks), the world will grind to a halt as everyone will be in court fighting patent cases rather than doing anything productive.
  • Good thing that's a guy - the name almost demands an EEOC complaint all by itself.

  • by hipp5 (1635263) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @09:40PM (#37487110)

    CEO Wenchi Chen is married to the head of HTC

    Holy fuck they must be rich.

    • CEO Wenchi Chen is married to the head of HTC

      Holy fuck they must be rich.

      Not for long if that pig keeps demanding things like: "get me a beer, wench!" Divorce can be brutal on a bank account.

  • by Mistakill (965922) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @09:43PM (#37487128)
    HTC is literally in bed with VIA
  • FUD (Score:4, Funny)

    by JustOK (667959) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @09:48PM (#37487156) Journal

    Total FUD. Via runs passenger trains in Canada. Their chips are horrible AND expensive.

    • I'm sure you'd rather have an iTrain with an iChip. It would be shiny and one hundred times more expensive than anyone else's. And you'd have to buy tickets with iTunes.

  • There seems to be a lot of patent lawsuits lately. But how do the companies find out someone is infringing their patents? Do they have engineering teams to take apart their competitors' products, and try to match to their patent portfolio? Or do they just look at the product specs and figure that they have patented the only way something could be done, so the other guys must be infringing?

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling