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Android Google Iphone Patents The Almighty Buck Apple

Apple Tries To Patent 3rd Party In-App Purchasing 244

Posted by timothy
from the on-the-internet dept.
bizwriter writes "Apple has spared no effort in trying to injure its arch mobile rival through the courts, like blocking Android vendors from important markets through patent and trademark infringement suits. Now it's developing an additional angle: an attempt to patent in-application purchases from third parties, as an application filed on April 26, 2010 and made public on Thursday made clear."
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Apple Tries To Patent 3rd Party In-App Purchasing

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  • by Gideon Wells (1412675) on Saturday October 08, 2011 @02:34PM (#37649516)

    Steam is a third party from Windows, I can buy programs/apps through that years before this filing. I am sure some 3rd party apps on the iPhone had in-app purchasing pre-filing of this. It wouldn't be the first time Apple patented something it saw a third party app do, however.

    • by masternerdguy (2468142) on Saturday October 08, 2011 @02:36PM (#37649528)
      Windows isn't a walled garden yet.
      • by lennier1 (264730)

        Until the attempts in Windows 8, which will have its own app store.

        • Yeah....To me. the entire windows 8 feature set smells of guaranteed failure.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Nerdfest (867930)
            Never underestimate the general population's ability to buy into something that is against their better interests in the long run. Apple has proven that with the iPhone.
            • by Calibax (151875) * on Saturday October 08, 2011 @04:38PM (#37650348)

              I assume you are referring to the App Store and the walled garden approach? Non-computer people place very little value on having an open ecosystem. If you are not a programmer you won't be writing your own apps so having an open system is worth very little.

              Given some of the drawbacks of the Android Market, it not clear see why "the general population" would consider that the walled garden approach is "against their better interests" or that an open system would offer any significant benefits.

              All four of the people I know to have Android phones have installed malware at some point. I have to wonder if any of them have spyware sitting their phones right now. I'm not saying that nobody can sneak malware into the Apple store but AFAIK it hasn't happened yet. The general population probably cares much more about that than the restrictions of a walled garden.

              • by jasno (124830)

                >> Non-computer people place very little value on having an open ecosystem.

                Ok, so they don't realize what's better for them in the long run. Your point?

                >> All four of the people I know to have Android phones have installed malware at some point.

                Sounds like your friends are idiots. I have more than 4 friends(and I post on /.!) with Android phones and no one has ever complained of malware.

              • by zoloto (586738)
                It's not very hard to code and implement apps on your iOS devices if you're a developer.
                • by dudpixel (1429789)

                  you have got to be kidding me.

                  Objective C is a freaking nightmare for any developer. XCode is buggy as hell, and you have to use OSX - each to their own, but I found it horrible to use.

                  I guess you can use one of the other javascript or HTML5 toolkits, that convert to native iOS5 code, but your claim that its "not very hard" is just false.

                  I'm 29, I work as a software engineer, I started programming when I was 10. I have no issues learning new programming languages and tools.

                  I was able to complete a simple ye

              • by jc42 (318812) on Saturday October 08, 2011 @09:24PM (#37651662) Homepage Journal

                Non-computer people place very little value on having an open ecosystem. If you are not a programmer you won't be writing your own apps so having an open system is worth very little.

                Oh, I dunno; I suspect you could explain it easily to most people with the canonical auto analogy: Would you consider buying a car if it were impossible to buy any accessories or spare parts from anyone but the auto maker's dealers? Yes, some people do buy everything from their auto dealer. But most people understand that making this mandatory is basically a way to make you pay a lot more money. Who'd want to be restricted to buying, say, new tires only from the dealer?

                I'd guess such simple example could easily get across to all but the real dummies why they should support an open market for add-ons of any sort.

    • I wonder when the Kindle for iPhone app was designed/started. It could potentially be prior art here.
      • by jc42 (318812)

        I wonder when the Kindle for iPhone app was designed/started. It could potentially be prior art here.

        Well, apparently amazon thinks it's all valid. I did a quick google of "in-app purchase", and on the first page of hits was a report that the kindle iPhone app no longer lets you buy from the kindle store. You have to either buy via Apple's store (and then Apple gets 30% of the price), or you can use the browser. That's sufficiently complex (i.e., more than just one or two clicks) that most non-geek users will probably give up).

        The folks at amazon.com have gotta be a bit annoyed by this.

        I wonder if

    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      Mozilla is a third party from Windows, and I can buy apps through my browser. I can also wear Levi's Jeans and go to a store and buy software through my jeans. I even carry my money in a pocket of said jeans. Apple is pretty damned evil and I wonder if Jobs was a moderating force and we can expect to see even more of this in the future, or if he was a driving force and they are going to start calming down soon.
    • As of late, is often seemingly ignored by the patent office.

    • by cgenman (325138)

      Outside of the digital realm, this basically describes the concept of stores. But, you know, stores "On A Computer" "On The Internet" "On A Phone!" That makes it meet the qualifications for patentability in the US 3 times over.

    • A person buying produce in a Middle Aged marketplace was most likely buying from a 'third party' because the Feudal Lord du jour was the owner of the land and made the rules. I'm sure similar circumstances existed way back into late prehistory.

    • by Tharsman (1364603)

      I hope this does not get awarded, but my guess is they are going for a different approach of "service to offer in app purchase to a third party app".

      Steam is, on itself, selling stuff for itself. If you want to buy DLC for a Steam game, you do that from the main Steam app.

      Their claim may be one about being able to buy the DLC from within the app, but having the store (Steam or Apple) process it.

      If that's what they are going for, I am not sure there is any prior art (Google offers it now in Android but it wa

    • Steam isn't prior art.

      that allows users to purchase a product from another source without leaving the application... the product source, which is different than the application source... gives the impression to the user that they are purchasing the product directly from the application

      With Steam you buy it from Steam through Steam. With Apple's in-app purchase you buy it from iTunes through the third-party app.

    • by russotto (537200)

      Steam is a third party from Windows, I can buy programs/apps through that years before this filing. I am sure some 3rd party apps on the iPhone had in-app purchasing pre-filing of this.

      "...on a mobile device".

    • by Fjandr (66656)

      It's a description of automated drop shipping. Oh wait, it's novel because they added "in an application."

      You mean, like the eBay application on my Blackberry? Or the application Amazon puts out that allows 3rd-party purchasing?

  • Patent Requirements (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08, 2011 @02:38PM (#37649538)

    I've finally realized how these types of patents keep cropping up.

    The dumber the population gets, including experts, the more the phrase "non-obvious" covers.

    • by cshark (673578)

      That and it's as old as the internet.

    • I've finally realized how these types of patents keep cropping up.

      The dumber the population gets, including experts, the more the phrase "non-obvious" covers.

      I don't think it's that, most of the time. It's just that information accumulates at a much faster rate than people can keep up with; this almost never came up until the last 50 years or so. While some people have made ignorance a kind of vogue I think even they do it out of subconscious fear, for the most part.

      Information overload can overwhelm basic cognitive skills like pattern recognition, and that must affect a patent office crippled by bad law and under-funding to the point that their backlog until

  • Prior art? (Score:4, Informative)

    by jonbryce (703250) on Saturday October 08, 2011 @02:41PM (#37649562) Homepage
  • Yeah, probably this.

    .
  • Surprise! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ariastis (797888)

    Meet the new Microsoft.

    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      Nah they still have to work on that other 60% market share.
    • Re:Surprise! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Bieeanda (961632) on Saturday October 08, 2011 @04:18PM (#37650232)
      Want to have some real fun? Find a recording of Apple's 1984 Olympic ad and compare Big Brother's selling points to Apple's mode of operation over the last ten years or so.
    • Perhaps if Microsoft had successfully banned the sale of all non-Windows computers on the grounds that they came in rectangular boxes, there might be a comparison. As it stands, Apple is far, far worse than any major corporation in memory.

      • by toriver (11308)

        If you go prior to Windows, to the DOS days, they did exactly that - or indirectly: In order to get a major discount on DOS, the vendors had to sell a DOS license with every PC, no matter what OS the customer wanted (e.g. DR-DOS or CP/M). Apple does not have anything like this "Microsoft tax" - I can go into a store with mobile phones and buy a Sony Ericsson device without paying Apple anything - there is no "Apple tax".

  • Hmmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday October 08, 2011 @03:08PM (#37649760) Journal
    There had better be a very good reason why 'in-app purchases from 3rd parties' are somehow not similar to buying stuff through a web browser...
    • A browser is a Program or Application and not an App. See the missing letters. Applications are for big things like computers and laptops, Apps are for small things like phones. Does this make sense now?

  • Is there a reason why nobody has patented the ability to play a game in the first person perspective? I don't know anything about patent law, but this doesn't seem any less ridiculous than other patents that have been approved and defended.
  • WHATEVER. Apple should just stop being an a$$hole and play nice with the other 4 year olds in the playground.
    • Why?

      I'm not trying to ge a dick. In fact personally I think large corporations should be broken up. But WHY, from Apples perspective, should they stop?

  • This is not present in-app purchasing or in-app purchasing in general. It is purchasing from within the app from an external source with external information but without actually leaving the app. I think the crux of this is you could buy something via an add in an app without leaving the app itself.

    And remember the new rules are if you dont patent it somebody else can and sue you for your own idea and you have no defence.

    • by Nemyst (1383049)

      We all know how... defensive Apple is with its portfolio.

      • by TRRosen (720617)

        Yes actually Apple is very Defensive with its patents. Have you ever once heard of Apple going after a patent violator that wasn't using it on a product directly competing with Apple. If Apple ever went offensive the courts would run red with blood.
        Now Trademarks and Copyright they are much more proactive with.

  • So. After a few days of sympathy for Steve Jobs, we're reminded why Apple is losing their "darling" status in the tech world.
  • It is now 1984. It appears IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers initially welcoming IBM with open arms now fear an IBM dominated and controlled future. They are increasingly turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom. IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1984_(advertisement) [wikipedia.org]

  • by Cyko_01 (1092499) on Saturday October 08, 2011 @05:24PM (#37650630) Homepage
    sue 'em until you can!
  • by Roogna (9643) on Saturday October 08, 2011 @06:01PM (#37650848)

    Obiviously /. has forgotten, but it was not long ago when iOS -and- Android developers started getting sued by Lodsys for apps that used in-app purchasing. I know Apple is a big bad evil company, but my first thought actually is that this is to cover the angle and protect third party devs, before some patent troll comes along to cover it from this angle too.

    • I know Apple is a big bad evil company, but my first thought actually is that this is to cover the angle and protect third party devs, before some patent troll comes along to cover it from this angle too.

      If this explanation is true, then the patent lawyers certainly dealt themselves a big hand. Where do we buy futures?

  • by BillX (307153) on Saturday October 08, 2011 @06:50PM (#37651078) Homepage

    According to TFA, they are trying to patent malware (and same could be considered prior art).

    Claim 1: A method comprising: presenting an application offering a product for purchase, the application being from a first entity; presenting a purchase interface overlaid the application, the purchase interface being from a second entity; and completing a sales transaction without navigating away from the application.

    The method of claim 1, wherein the application is an advertisement.
    The method of claim 1, wherein the application is from an application server that targets applications to users.
    The method of claim 1, wherein the purchase interface is for purchasing a product directly from an online store.

    This sounds like a common practice by which old-school adware and malware operated - in the case of ad-supported software, an ad for a purchaseable product would be presented in the supported application's window. When clicked, either the user's already-installed browser or an embedded MSIE instance would open for the user to complete the purchase using 'the internet'. For bona fide malware, the ad-spawning application was windowless and lurked in the background, popping up ads on top of whatever "app" the user is currently working in, and obviously without quitting said app (being a multitasking OS and all). Oftentimes, the specific ad would be triggered by what the user was doing in the other app (e.g. by monitoring for specific words typed or URLs visited). Knowing lawyers, the nuanced prior-artiness of each case might hinge on whether an IE instance and webpage embedded the the app constitutes a third-party "purchase interface" or not.

    • Sadly (or not), I've never been called for jury duty, much less for a patent case. I'd certainly do my part to put an end to this garbage. On the other hand, if I ever wanted to get out of jury duty I could just reveal my various online handles.

    • Or, opening a Paypal purchase interface in a new window would meet claim 1. I certainly hope that if this ever issues, it ends up a lot more detailed than what was originally filed.

  • Remember all the patents that came out 10-15 years ago that were common business practices, but computerized?

    Well, now Apple's doing "X with an iPad".

    Pathetic.

  • Rather than make a better product or compete on their merits, apple continues to try and get ahead by litigation, frivolous patents, and buying up the competition.

    This is par for the course for the company.

  • Since the U.S. has encouraged patent filing, all tech news is starting to trend toward it.

    How about changing the mechanism to:

    1. Company doesn't patent some arcane, small mechanism in a product of theirs.
    2. You, yourself, file for said patent. You know, just for the hell of it.
    3. PRO^H^H^HPost an article online saying how dumb the subject company was for not patenting it first.

    It will be the new Rick Roll, or whatever referential point you want to use in this sentence.

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