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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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  • by Covalent (1001277) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @09:59AM (#38084836)
    This patent is from 1998. I'm not saying Xerox shouldn't have gotten a patent for this (though it is awfully broad), but that patent should be long dead by now. 13 years is an eternity in the tech world and Apple is going to lord this over Google and everyone else for ... 17 years? Longer?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2011 @10:04AM (#38084898)

    This is great news! Hopefully Apple will sue Android related companies, making it illegal to provide location services. Then we could use Android without worrying about our carriers, or other service providers logging and tracking our every move. Let Apple have the monopoly on spying on their customers.

  • So... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Chewbacon (797801) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @10:04AM (#38084902)
    So Apple is gonna sue all GPS manufacturers? The government? Nice.
  • It's dark (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MadKeithV (102058) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @10:14AM (#38085008)
    You are in a maze of twisty little claims, all alike. It's pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a patent or copyright lawyer.
  • If Apple didn't hold this patent someone else would use it against them. I can't really fault a company for defending their right to use some technology. I haven't seen many cases where Apple was the first to enter into litigation.
  • Re:Suspens (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2011 @10:22AM (#38085118)

    Not willing to kill the suspens but I think it will be a company whose name starts with the letter G.

    Actually, I found an interesting column the other day (about the gesture-based lock screen patent) where the author opined that Apple isn't inclined to go directly after Google because Google has too much money/lawyers and any litigation against them would take years and years.

    Instead, the author concluded, Apple is going to (and has already started to) go after the handset makers like HTC and Samsung. By making their life miserable for having some Android phones in their product line, Apple hopes to dissuade any other manufacturers from making 'Droid phones because it's just too expensive and/or risky.

  • by ndixon (184723) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @10:23AM (#38085138)

    According to the patent, it's a reissue filed in 2010 of an earlier patent application which was was filed in 1998 and issued in 2000.

    Why reissue it? Because it's under new ownership?

    The reissued patent cites earlier patents going right up to 2009, and Apple didn't get into location-based services (i.e. iPhone) until 2007, after the LG Prada appeared. Meanwhile this happened [wikipedia.org]:

    The first consumer LBS-capable mobile web device was the Palm VII, released in 1999. Two of the in-the-box applications made use of the ZIP code-level positioning information and share the title for first consumer LBS application: the Weather.com app from The Weather Channel, and the TrafficTouch app from Sony-Etak / Metro Traffic.

    Since Palm had a LBS product out before the original patent was issued, and Xerox never really turned their patent into a product, how the f**k is this new patent enforceable?

  • by timholman (71886) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @10:37AM (#38085294)

    Too many people are missing the point.

    If Apple didn't take out a patent on a concept like this, you can guarantee that some patent troll would, and would sue both Apple and Google, along with everyone else in the marketplace. That's the way the system works nowadays.

    Patents aren't just offensive weapons; they're defensive weapons as well. Apple and Google have huge patent portfolios, and both have too much leverage to win any major court battle against the other. At best, it would be mutually assured destruction, and do nothing but enrich a lot of lawyers.

    What patents like this actually do is protect Apple (and Google, and everyone else) from the bottom-feeding trolls. You either file these "obvious" patents, or you can bet your bottom dollar some slimeball will instead, and take you to court.

  • Re:Nice Things (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PortHaven (242123) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @10:52AM (#38085488) Homepage

    What is the good side?

    A system that costs nearly hundreds of dollars for a preliminary patent and around $10,000 for an actual patent. Essentially, putting patents beyond the reach of the common Joe.

    And on the other side, we have a legal system that makes it a fortune to pursue patents. Well beyond the means of a small company. And even during blatant theft, the little companies seldom come out with their due.

    When Microsoft spent a year in negotiations and review of the ball-less optical mouse. Then dropped negotiations only to release their own version. The little company won in their lawsuit against Microsoft. Who was forced to pay $1 million. But likely made far more than that off of all the Microsoft optical mice devices they sold.

    Or Sony, who in trying to enforce copyrights. Stole the code of a programmer. Apparently, copyrights are only for the big fish.

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

    by Jaysyn (203771) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `todhsals+nysyaj'> on Thursday November 17, 2011 @11:23AM (#38085884) Homepage Journal

    If waterbed patents can be thrown out due to prior art in a sci-fi book, I don't see why prior art in a sci-fi movie would be any less valid.

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

    by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @11:51AM (#38086332) Homepage Journal

    The patent proceeded apple too, they bought it from xerox. You will need to check the actual patent, not the apple connection.

    Also, depending on what it references, it may still hold.

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

    by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @01:15PM (#38087588) Homepage

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

    Not necessarily. Taking GPS coordinates and using them to retrieve location-specific information is nothing more than an obvious application of GPS technology. Whether or not the patent is enforceable would therefore depend on whether or not the particular method covered by the patent is obvious.

    Assuming the patent is enforceable, one could still make the argument that allowing such patents does nothing to promote the progress of science and the useful arts, in which case it's a perfect example of why the patent system is broken.

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