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Apple's New Patent Weapon — Location Services 323

Posted by Soulskill
from the uspto-is-the-best-comedy-club dept.
DaveyJJ writes "Once again, it seems Apple is about to take intellectual property claims to a new level. Apple has been reissued a patent they acquired from Xerox that pretty much wraps up what we know as 'location services' as their own. In the overview, the patent says the system involved will display information specific to the location the device is in. The language used in the patent is broad and powerful. I guess now we wait and see whom Apple will use this against?"
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Apple's New Patent Weapon — Location Services

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  • Suspens (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Issarlk (1429361) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @10:00AM (#38084844)
    >> we wait and see whom Apple will use this against?

    Not willing to kill the suspens but I think it will be a company whose name starts with the letter G.
  • by firex726 (1188453) <firex726@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Thursday November 17, 2011 @10:04AM (#38084892)

    How would a GPS not qualify as prior art?

    It shows you a map and surrounding area based on where device is, or area entered. One could argue even the very early military models which had Long, Lat and a compass could qualify.

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@@@gmail...com> on Thursday November 17, 2011 @10:09AM (#38084954) Journal

    If prior art ever meant shit, 99% of these BS software patents wouldn't exist.

  • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@@@nexusuk...org> on Thursday November 17, 2011 @10:14AM (#38085006) Homepage

    I'm really glad I live in Europe where software patents are invalid. The current setup in the US in relation to patents is a total joke. Patents were originally conceived to encourage innovation. In recent years, companies are almost afraid to innovate because some troll or monopoly hungry public company will immediately jump out of the wood work screaming "SORRY, WE OWN THAT IDEA. WE'RE GONNA SUE YOUR A$$"

    The annoyance is that organisations seem to forever bow to the lowest common denominator - if something isn't allowed in the US then Europe tends not to get it either. It would be much nicer if manufacturers produced a version of their devices with lots of functionality for use everywhere except the US, and a "land of the free" version especially crippled for the US market, so the rest of the world doesn't have to deal with the US's crazy laws.

  • Re:You are here... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by beelsebob (529313) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @10:20AM (#38085100)

    In what way do roadside maps and sextants transmit information to a distributed system in order to retrieve information about the location you've found yourself in?

    The only way that any argument that software patents are stifling innovation can ever work is if you don't lie when you make an argument about them.

  • Re:So... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2011 @10:22AM (#38085132)

    Apple doesn't have a history of suing all patent violators. Just the ones that want to compete. Suing everyone is too costly. Picking battles and knowing who to pay off is what leads to success.

  • Re:You are here... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@@@gmail...com> on Thursday November 17, 2011 @10:24AM (#38085158) Journal

    Simple, the transmission of distributed information is the distribution of maps and sextants from the publisher/manufacturer, and the info retreival is done on the user's end by looking at the map or through the sextant.

    I know, I know, but this is ON A COMPYUTAR!

  • by Miamicanes (730264) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @10:42AM (#38085350)

    > If Apple didn't hold this patent someone else would use it against them.

    They might use it to extort money against Apple, but it's still an improvement over Apple's likely behavior (attempting to use it to prevent anybody else from implementing anything that looks remotely similar, period). Part of the reason why the entire mobile industry is rapidly coming to despise Apple is because they're *worse* than the worst patent troll. At least shameless patent trolls can be paid off. Patent trolls just want to steal your money. Apple wants to own your body and soul.

  • by Nerdfest (867930) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @11:00AM (#38085584)
    Seriously?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2011 @11:13AM (#38085736)

    And there was no R&D spent on this patent anyway. It's basically taking an existing invention, location awareness, and then adding another invention, the internet, to get info about that location.

    This is obvious, it was obvious at the time.

    GPS already existed, and retrieved location info from local storage. Retrieving that info from the internet instead of local storage is not only obvious, it's pretty much the same process. Sending a request to a URL instead of to local storage is just an different call, possibly a different API, but is technically very little different from the point of view of the calling software.

    You should never be able to patent taking two existing inventions and combining them in an obvious way. If you had said to any programmer in 1998 "hey, I have GPS, but I need to pull live data rather than stored data", they would have all come up with an internet call of some sort, all of them. If it's obvious to a person "skilled in the art" then it's not patentable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2011 @11:17AM (#38085788)

    So, sending a query not to the local database, but to a remote one makes it patentable (because it's ON THE INTERNET, that's why). Seriously, patents are hilariously lame.

  • by jo_ham (604554) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (999mahoj)> on Thursday November 17, 2011 @11:37AM (#38086100)

    Yes, seriously.

  • by jo_ham (604554) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (999mahoj)> on Thursday November 17, 2011 @11:40AM (#38086140)

    It's not just "smartphone with rounded corners" - there are plenty of those out there that are not part of a lawsuit from Apple. It's combining "smartphone with rounded corners" with a bunch of other elements that make it very close to a copy of the iPhone that caused the lawsuit.

    It wasn't just Apple who noticed - all the initial reviews (or a great many of them) commented that the Galaxy S looked an *awful lot* like the iPhone in terms of physical look as well as software experience. Something they didn't say, for example, with any HTC phone, or any other Android handset. If all Apple had was "it has rounded corners, sue sue!" then it would be nonsense, but they don't.

  • Re:You are here... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @11:42AM (#38086194)

    A movie prop is not prophetic enablement.

    For apple to have been granted the patent as it is written, they should have had to prove novelty. "Your invention must be different from that which already is publicly known or available." The look and feel of the iPad is not novel, as demonstrated by the movie I referenced. I'm not suggesting that Kubrick or Roddenberry should have been granted a patent for the idea. Instead, I'm suggesting that the idea as written should not have been patentable at all since it does not meet the basic criteria for a patent to be granted.

  • Re:You are here... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Maury Markowitz (452832) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @12:42PM (#38087010) Homepage

    "But at the time Xerox patented this the infrastructure we take for granted in terms of wifi, and location protocols didn't exist. Indeed that's probably exactly what was envisioned in the patent."

    OMG, you too? Just type "US Patent 6122520" into google.

    "The GPS receiving system receives a signal from the GPS and converts it into a coordinate entry. The coordinate entry is transmitted to the distributed network for retrieval of corresponding location specific information. The location specific information may reside on a web page."

    The patent seems pretty damb specific to me. And I read all the quoted refs it links to, and searched up similar hits in the DB. They cover different methods of locating the cell phone, including tower triangulation and such, others cover TCP/IP from cell phones, and other cover various ways of doing geolookups. However, none of them combine the two ideas in this fashion -- for instance, one Hitachi patent talks about the same basic idea, but couches it in terms of product lookup in a warehouse, while another talks about pre-recorded information stored in the device itself.

    I'm sorry, but writing this off as "bad patent" will do nothing by hurt any claims that the system is broken.

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