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Apple Transfers Patents Through Shell Company To Sue All Phone Makers 422

Posted by Soulskill
from the hand-in-cookie-jar dept.
New submitter dell623 writes "A patent lawsuit (PDF) by patent licensing firm Digitude Innovations curiously targeted all mobile manufacturers except Apple. A TechCrunch story has revealed that the patents used were transferred from Apple via a shell company to DI, and appear to cover features found in virtually all smartphones. The lawsuit even extends to companies that don't make Android phones, like Nokia and RIM, and to Android OEMs that Apple have not directly sued yet, like Sony. The business model of DI clearly implies that Apple would benefit financially from the lawsuit as a company that contributed patents to DI's portfolio."
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Apple Transfers Patents Through Shell Company To Sue All Phone Makers

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  • Why now? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NabisOne (2426710) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @03:56PM (#38328836)
    If this is true why did they wait until now to do this?
    • Re:Why now? (Score:5, Funny)

      by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @03:59PM (#38328870) Homepage

      This is the Jobs "Doomsday Device". ....And I will just say hello,
      To the folks that you know,
      Tell them you won't be long,
      They'll be happy to know that as I saw you go
      You were singing this song.

      We'll we'll meet again,
      Don't know where, dont know when.
      But I know well meet again, some sunny day.

      Roll Credits.

      • Re:Why now? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Raved Thrad (1864414) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @07:21PM (#38330666)

        So far from the tree has Apple fallen,
        Burning their karma patent-trollin';
        So committed to this course of action,
        And to alienating every smartphone faction,
        They've even set up a patent troll proxy --
        Can't fix their broken rep with a ton of epoxy.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by KDR_11k (778916)

          On the other hand Motorola just got an injunction against Apple for basic GPRS tech in Germany. Apple will sooner or later learn that getting into a patent war with cellphone manufacturers that have been making the things for decades is not a good idea.

    • Re:Why now? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by amiga3D (567632) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @04:15PM (#38329042)

      I think they've been watching Microsoft rolling in the dough from all the android sales and they want in on the fun too. Why not? It's the way things are. Apple can continue to sell iPhones and make money and everyone else can make android phones and Apple can make money. It's nice to see them copying Microsoft's innovation for a change.

      • Re:Why now? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by msauve (701917) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @05:56PM (#38329910)
        "It's nice to see them copying Microsoft's innovation for a change."

        Where have you been?

        Microsoft is the new IBM.
        Apple is the new Microsoft.
        Google is the new Apple.

        (Oracle and Facebook are the new SCO)
        • by Raenex (947668)

          Apple has always been about proprietary and high-priced consumer items. I don't know where you're getting this, "Google is the new Apple," schtick from.

          • Re:Why now? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by mldi (1598123) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @01:23AM (#38332598)

            Apple has always been about proprietary and high-priced consumer items. I don't know where you're getting this, "Google is the new Apple," schtick from.

            Apple used to include schematics for the computers they sold. So no, they didn't always used to be about proprietary, and they weren't always complete dicks.

            • Re:Why now? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by puto (533470) <theflatline@yahoo.com> on Sunday December 11, 2011 @07:54PM (#38338614) Homepage
              Really, The Apple 2 c had a faulty UART that would not let a modem pass 300 bps. So when you brought you Apple to the store in 1983-84 and asked what was going on the Apple store told you they needed to see the modem you owned. Be it a Hayes or USR instead of an apple modem they told you it was the modem, not the machine. Then you had to buy an apple modem. They took your machine in the back, and replaced the uart, and then hooked up an Apple modem with everything magically working. So fortunately someone figured it out, and we all took our machines in and lied and said we had Apple Modems. So I say complete dicks and proprietary since day one.
      • Re:Why now? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @06:16PM (#38330070) Journal

        I think they've been watching Microsoft rolling in the dough from all the android sales and they want in on the fun too.

        No, they want to kill Android. There was an interview with Steve Jobs where the interviewer asked how he lost the OS war. Jobs said, "We didn't see it as a war, we just wanted to make things people liked." Then he stopped and said, "maybe that's why we lost."

        Apple doesn't understand that Microsoft won because they were very responsive to what customers wanted. They bent over backwards to give what (the biggest segment of) customers wanted. They were on top of it all throughout the 80s and 90s. Of course, they didn't have a problem playing sharp business games (ie, all their unethical stuff), either.

        Apple still doesn't get it. They don't get that enterprise wants backwards compatibility, for example. Who would ever build an enterprise app to run on OSX, when it may be obseleted and ejected from OSX (like Carbon was in Lion, and a bunch of others)?

        Apple did see the unethical stuff Microsoft did, and they thought that is why Microsoft must have won. So they decided to follow the unethical stuff.

        They would do better if they were more responsive to customers (like, ok, remove Carbon if you must, but provide a downloadable compatibility layer, or open source it! Some people need this stuff).

        • Re:Why now? (Score:5, Informative)

          by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@@@gmail...com> on Saturday December 10, 2011 @07:01PM (#38330518)

          Carbon was from the OS 9 days - it needed to die, and it was deprecated really early in OS X's life. Apple said "it's still in here, but work away from it because eventually it will be removed".

          They gave everyone *years* to move away from Carbon. It's not like they just whisked it out of the OS overnight with the release of Lion.

          Same thing with the switch from 68k to PPC and then again to x86. They bent over backwards to keep the backwards compatibility to smooth the transition in each case but said to developers "eventually this stuff is going away".

          People got pissy because they had software that relied on Carbon, or was PPC only etc and whined that the support was going away after the very long period they had to update it. This is what happens when you rely on transitional elements and *already marked deprecated* libraries that were there to make moving to the more modern libraries and architectures more fluid.

          They've certainly had some foolish moves (like removing backwards compatibility in Final Cut X, while simultaneously withdrawing Final Cut Studio from sale) and various other things, but it's not like they're just yanking things left and right and saying "surprise! too bad!"

          Also, how are we quantifying "do better" in the phrase "Apple would do better if... [insert opinion]". They aren't short of cash, their products are selling as fast as they can make them (with some notable exceptions), their customer satisfaction results consistently poll very high, they're growing marketshare in the PC arena (bucking the general trend of PC makers), they're growing in the mobile space (despite very healthy competition from multiple Android vendors). How else can they "do better"?

          The only thing they seem to be missing is the slashdot geek vote, but I'm not sure that's terribly troubling to them.

          • Re:Why now? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @07:34PM (#38330758) Journal
            OK, you've demonstrated you can read the official Apple propaganda. Good job.

            Now back in the real world, people don't want to rewrite their code every few years to fit the latest framework. We want our code to keep working. This isn't an unreasonable demand.

            Apple could have made a compatibility layer. They could have open sourced Carbon so others could have, if they didn't want to do the work. No, instead they said, "Screw every single one of you. We don't care if you have the resources to do this or not, you're stuck."

            This is why at home you can have a pretty Mac as a toy, but when you go to work, nearly everyone uses Windows. COM and MFC is trash, but at least it still works.
            • Re:Why now? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@@@gmail...com> on Saturday December 10, 2011 @08:03PM (#38330958)

              "every few years" is being disingenuous. Here in the "real world" we like to debate using accurate language.

              Carbon was the state of the art, so to speak, in OS 8.6 (and released before then). It was finally killed off in Lion (and strongly limited during the push into 64 bit with Snow Leopard).

              To say that, if your app relied on the Carbon API, that Apple was "forcing you to rewrite your code every few years" is to just be laughably dishonest. It was in use on the Mac (in the current latest OS version) since 1997 to 2011 - that's hardly a rewrite "every few years" - that's longer than the entire lifetime of OS X itself (not including its time as a NeXT product).

              Cocoa was introduced with OS X and worked alongside Carbon for many years until finally taking over as the sole player in mid 2011 (and slightly earlier in Snow Leopard for 64 bit apps, it was still there just in 32 bit only).

              If you can't manage to alter your code to transition to Cocoa in the TEN YEARS that OS X has been around (and the same amount of time you've known that Carbon was deprecated) and you're whining that Apple is making it hard for you then you need to get a different fucking job. Perhaps something with a little less "time pressure" like Bonsai tree gardener or continental plate drift measurer or something. I know ten years is barely enough time to make changes to your code.

              I am of course, assuming that your code existed on the Mac in OS 9. If it started its life on OS X and you still used Carbon then... well, I return to my point about getting a different job. Clearly reading the documentation is too challenging.

              • you can't simply "alter your code" to transition to Cocoa. Cocoa can only be used with Objective-C. if your code it written in C/C++ then you need to trash it all. It took Apple many years to move their own products to cocoa. Final Cut [wikipedia.org] still doesn't support many features of its previous version
      • If Apple just wanted to get a share in profits made on Android, why try to block sales of competing devices?

    • Re:Why now? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by symbolset (646467) * on Saturday December 10, 2011 @06:32PM (#38330238) Homepage Journal
      The longer you wait to file suit for patents the more committed your victims get to the underlying methods. They build things on them, and things on top of those things, and frameworks to rapidly implement platforms on top of those so you get to victimize their partners and embarrass them as well. Ideally they build a partner ecosystem around them. And when they've committed the maximum amount of time, money, effort and credibility, when they reach the maximum commitment that maximizes your licensing revenue in event of a settlement, THEN you yank the rug out. But first you transfer the patent to somebody who didn't wait, so the victim can't say "Hey - no fair - you were helping us do this the whole time!" It's how you prevent the maximum amount of progress with just a handful of patents. Then while the suits wend glacially through the courts you have a FUD club to beat the victim with in the press through "analysts" like Enderle and Mueller even while no misdeeds are even proven because nobody wants to build leasehold improvements on property whose ownership is in doubt. And it's perfectly legal.
      • The longer you wait to file suit for patents the more committed your victims get to the underlying methods.

        Which is why the courts recognize a defense called laches. (Google it.) I admit it's weaker for patents and copyrights than it is for trademarks, but if someone accused of infringement can convince a judge that the patent holder waited for the defendant to become more committed before pulling the proverbial rug, the defendant is off the hook for back damages.

  • well done apple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phreakv6 (760152) <phreakv6@NOSPAM.gmail.com> on Saturday December 10, 2011 @03:57PM (#38328850) Homepage
    this is a smart way to avoid negative publicity. 'apple sues xyz' makes apple sound like an evil company. 'digitude innovation sues xyz' is a way protecting the brand
    • by CruelKnave (1324841) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @04:06PM (#38328944)
      "Well, now we have a firm grasp of the obvious."
    • Re:well done apple (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nahdude812 (88157) * on Saturday December 10, 2011 @04:14PM (#38329024) Homepage

      So Digitude Innovation is the new SCO, which makes Apple the new Microsoft.

    • Re:well done apple (Score:4, Interesting)

      by camperdave (969942) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @04:37PM (#38329224) Journal
      So what happens if they lose? Spin off another company, "sell" them the patents, and sue again? Is this a lather, rinse, repeat situation - or is it one where, if the case is defeated, the patent is nullified?
    • Re:well done apple (Score:4, Insightful)

      by VortexCortex (1117377) <`VortexCortex' ` ... -retrograde.com'> on Saturday December 10, 2011 @05:23PM (#38329614) Homepage

      this is a smart way to avoid negative publicity. 'apple sues xyz' makes apple sound like an evil company. 'digitude innovation sues xyz' is a way protecting the brand

      Yes it's also smart from a defensive standpoint. If Apple were to sue, then it's simple to counter sue, eventually they'll cross license the patents in question. However, if Apple is only seeking to be anti-competitive instead of competitive, they'll use the shell company. This way, since Digitude makes NOTHING the folks they sue can't exactly use their own patent portfolio against Digitude.

      The interesting thing is, now that the cat's out of the bag, expect suits to be filed against Apple in hopes they'll call off their trolls. However, unless the same shell corp tactic is used they'll end up looking like the bad guys in the press.

      Moral of the story? Set up your corporation today. File the taxes, pay the dues, you don't have to do anything else with it. Later, you can sell them to the big guys who are looking to do some shady shit, OR to the new guys who want to seem like they've been in good standing for much longer than they have. Invest Now! These fake paper people are actually appreciating in value!

    • Re:well done apple (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Trekologer (86619) <adb@@@trekologer...net> on Saturday December 10, 2011 @05:49PM (#38329836) Homepage

      It might be a bit more sinister than that. Typically, when Large Company A sues Large Company B over a patent claim, Large Company B pulls something out of their patent portfolio that Large Company A might infringe upon. Ultimately after many strongly worded press releases, the result is a cross-licencing agreement and both parties go on their merry way. A patent toll shell company has no products and therefore none of those pesky counter claims that stand in the way of a pay day.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 10, 2011 @03:57PM (#38328852)

    Do we have to argue Automatic Radio v. Hazeltine Research and Zenith v. Hazeltine Research all over again?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's not about winning arguments; it's about gaining and exercising power. The yap flapping is just there to give it apparent legitimacy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 10, 2011 @03:59PM (#38328874)
    Truly this is American Innovation at work.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    With business practices like these I can only wonder how long it will take for the us government to bring on charges of monopolistic practices and force a breakup of Apple's business portfolio. One can only hope.

    • by teg (97890) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @04:20PM (#38329102) Homepage

      With business practices like these I can only wonder how long it will take for the us government to bring on charges of monopolistic practices and force a breakup of Apple's business portfolio. One can only hope.

      IPhone is pretty far away from being a monopoly... of the more than 1 billion cell phones sold in 2010, Apple sold less than 50 million.

  • At some point... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @04:07PM (#38328950) Homepage

    At some point this stops being about mere offensive lawsuits and goes into being plain evil.

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @04:07PM (#38328956) Homepage Journal

    ... or at least that's how I read it.

    When they spend this kind of money and go through this sort of effort to essentially go Nuclear then it is quite clear that iOS/iPhone/iPad is on the way out -- or at least is so severely threatened and Apple has no clue as to what to do for a competitive recourse.

    Seem to me that this money could have ben much better spent on R&D in increasing their product line and innovating -- but maybe the innovation at Apple died with the Steveness.

    • by arcite (661011)
      Apple just has so much cash that they are indifferent to paying hundreds of lawyers and suing everyone they can. Most of these companies have less cash on hand combined than Apple!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Are you on crack? Apple is growing revenues at 60% year over year. If that's "on the way out", I'll take some of that kind of failure. Have you been by an Apple Store lately? They're packed, so packed that it's hard to find a sales rep to take your money. The iPhone 4S is the fastest selling electronic device ever. They're selling 100K of them every day. That's $650,000,000 in revenue per day. At this rate, Apple will have more than 5x Google's annual revenues and almost 3x Microsoft's revenues. In fact, wi

      • Are you on crack? Apple is growing revenues at 60% year over year. If that's "on the way out", I'll take some of that kind of failure. Have you been by an Apple Store lately? They're packed, so packed that it's hard to find a sales rep to take your money. The iPhone 4S is the fastest selling electronic device ever. They're selling 100K of them every day. That's $650,000,000 in revenue per day. At this rate, Apple will have more than 5x Google's annual revenues and almost 3x Microsoft's revenues. In fact, within 6 months Apple will have more revenue (they already have far more profit) than Samsung, GE, and VW (that includes Porsche & Audi).

        I'm sure they'll manage to keep growing at that rate too... [xkcd.com]

      • by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Saturday December 10, 2011 @06:24PM (#38330156) Journal
        650,000,000 / 100,000 = 6,500 per unit. That seams to be a little off.
      • by JAlexoi (1085785) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @08:32PM (#38331182) Homepage
        A) You numbers are wrong.
        B) You must be an economist, since you think that there is no limit to growth.
        C) If we apply the same projections to Android's explosive growth - then in 1 year everyone on this planet will have at least one Android device.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by bussdriver (620565)

      NO, the hugely successful iOS products will shortly convert the whole industry into copy cat knock offs; some of which will surpass it in various ways (depending on what certain customers want, not what 1 product Apple offers.)

      Apple can own the various physical techniques which the others have worked around alternatives already (or pay apple or sony... unless there is a 3rd form of touch screen tech out there own by another already.)

      I'm 150% behind Apple on this-- PLEASE use software patents to foobar the i

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @05:29PM (#38329654)

      It's not an act of desperation. It's an act of Machismo, to match every other company (mainly Google, as a countermove to the Motorola purchase and subsequent attacks).

      The whole thing is insanity really, there are no white hats here - Google, Apple, the whole lot of them suing each other in ridiculous ways over silly things with absurd demands.

      I think there is a purpose for patents, I don't want to see them all go. But plainly something is utterly wrong with the system as it stands, where consumers all sit in the eye of the patent hurricane and hope it doesn't affect some fragment of our lives...

  • by webanish (1045264) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @04:07PM (#38328964) Journal
    FWIW, "This American Life #441: When Patents Attack" [thisamericanlife.org] lays out the problem with patents very clearly. Apple is just ONE company.
  • Upon being granted a patent, you must immediately sue any infringer that you are aware of or risk losing said patent.

    Additionally, you should be unable to give preferential licensing to any company.

  • The decision to pay lawyers instead of engineers is never an easy one, but Apple, you made the calculations and made your decision and with it you've taken the crown from the former Symbol-of-all-that-is-wrong-in-America, Microsoft. Congratulations! I look forward to the future that you will allow to happen...

  • OMA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fizzl (209397) <[fizzl] [at] [fizzl.net]> on Saturday December 10, 2011 @04:13PM (#38329016) Homepage Journal

    Fucking apple. Why can't they just join Open Mobile Alliance [openmobilealliance.org] like everyone else and share the patents. In return they would get access to the whole pool of patents from the other companies [openmobilealliance.org].

    • Re:OMA (Score:4, Interesting)

      by iluvcapra (782887) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @04:34PM (#38329202)

      Because the OMA is a confederation of the losers? Because its a cartel devised to give network operators a veto on applications and platform innovation? Google isn't a member, either.

      • Re:OMA (Score:4, Interesting)

        by thegarbz (1787294) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @07:37PM (#38330780)

        Google also isn't a hardware manufacturer. They've released 2 handsets under their own name which were both built by other companies (HTC and Samsung), both which are apparently "losers" according to you being members of the Open Mobile Alliance, which given the size of their market share makes your comment seem a bit silly. The OMA is a confederation made up of mainly hardware manufacturers and carriers.

        On the other hand Google is a software company and there is an alliance for the software side of the mobile world where Google is one of the founding members. The Open Handset Alliance. You may have heard of their product, Android.

      • by Pax681 (1002592)

        Because the OMA is a confederation of the losers? Because its a cartel devised to give network operators a veto on applications and platform innovation? Google isn't a member, either.

        YES google are since they bought Motorola Mobility Check the Membership list [openmobilealliance.org]

    • Re:OMA (Score:4, Insightful)

      by houghi (78078) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @04:48PM (#38329292)

      You know the world is fucked up if "groups of companies sharing patents" is seen as a good alternative.
      "No patents" should be the alternative.

    • Fucking apple. Why can't they just join Open Mobile Alliance like everyone else and share the patents. In return they would get access to the whole pool of patents from the other companies.

      Ah, I see that Microsoft is a (sponsor!) member of the OMA. That must mean they can't sue other members like Samsung, HTC and Huawei.

  • by no-body (127863) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @04:51PM (#38329338)

    It always goes in company name, here "DI" and whatever entities there are.
    The missing link is people, it's all individuals having those great ideas.
    Something like that: http://whoarethe1percent.com/ [whoarethe1percent.com] (kinda crude but useful).

    This whole patent/copyright happening is so sick - who are the one-dimensional folks dreaming it up and going for it?
    that;s one of them:

    http://www.yatedo.com/p/Ed+Gomez/normal/faa10cb30a48fd79dc8ed3f41ff78228 [yatedo.com]

    With a picture, how cute!

    Co. seems to be a major patent troll - hope they burn in hell!

    http://www.burnsvillelocal.com/category/technology/ [burnsvillelocal.com]

  • by jenningsthecat (1525947) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @05:19PM (#38329570)

    How many of the companies being sued HAVEN'T used patents as an offense rather than a defense? These days, legal departments are profit centres, and are more important than engineering departments; engineers' jobs are being outsourced and offshored while lawyers are rubbing their dirty little hands and laughing all the way to the bank.

    I suspect most of the 'victims' of Apple's attempted sleight-of-hand are simply reaping what they've sown. The whole litigious nature of doing business today has gotten out of hand, but I can't say I feel terribly sorry for any of the players involved.

    A society that believes lawsuits are the path to riches, and rewards people for spilling hot coffee on themselves or not watching where they're walking, can't help but devolve into this kind of crap. In the end it's a zero-sum game, and a tremendous drain on our resources. I'm surprised it's taking us so long to figure that out.

  • by Lifyre (960576) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @05:23PM (#38329606)

    Apple via DI just picked a fight with pretty much every player in the mobile phone market?

    This reeks of desperation. Something tells me the recent rulings against them around the world from Germany to the US to Australia are a major blow to their ego and they're lashing out like the cool kid who is suddenly being abandoned by all his friends...

    It will be interesting to see if Apple can survive a fight with Microsoft (who are obligated to help due to agreements with Nokia and WP7), Google (Own Motorola), Sony, Samsung, RIM, LG, and Amazon...

  • by znerk (1162519) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @05:37PM (#38329726)

    This should be illegal. Not just the transfer of patents solely for the purpose of litigating with them, but patents in this field - and maybe patents in general.

    This post rambles a bit, but please bare with me as I explain that Intellectual Property is a large component of the destruction of modern society and civilization.

    Originally, copyright was a big deal. I understand that. A couple hundred years ago, there weren't a large number of printing presses "in the field". Since then, technology has progressed to the point that not only can we print documents immediately upon desiring a hard copy of them, but there are entire publishing houses based on the idea of "print on demand" for books, periodicals, and other similar products. Humans have even developed a three-dimensional printer, allowing the production of any single plastic object that we can make a CAD document of. "Copying things" was not a personal concern when these laws were instituted, it was to prevent CompanyA from stealing CompanyB's work and printing a couple hundred copies, so that CompanyA would make money by stealing CompanyB's market. At that point in the technology curve, big companies were the only means of production for these products.

    Let's think about the here and now, where nearly every home has a printing device. Where paper and ink are available to anyone who has access to a vehicle, and even to those who do not, if they live close enough to a Walmart, a Kmart, a drug store, a grocery store, or in some places even a convenience store. At this point in the technology curve, it becomes obvious that "protecting intellectual property" really means "creating an alternate revenue stream in the guise of monopoly".

    It has been said over and over, but I'm going to repeat it one more time to be sure my point is clear:
    Patenting software is like patenting a recipe, or an algebraic equation. You cannot patent the number 7, you shouldn't be able to patent "a method for obtaining the number 7 as output from a specific sequence of calculations". Recipes are protected under copyright law, because there is an artistic expression in listing ingredients and instructions for mixing them together... Wait, what?

    So-called "design patents" are even worse - they attempt to make it illegal to do what any layman could do with no more tools than their eyes. "Rounded rectangle" should not be patentable, any more than "cube" should be patentable. Apple suing Samsung for making a smartphone that happens to be white was one of the most retarded, idiotic, moronic things that I have ever read, until I came across this article [techcrunch.com], describing how Apple sued a teenager for making "conversion kits" to turn iPhones white before Apple was ready to release the white iPhones... The appropriate thing to do in that case would have been to tell Apple they should have gotten their product to market sooner, and stopped using an artificial shortage to inflate sales figures. That is to say, Apple built the hype for a specific product, but hadn't made it to market with that product yet. Someone else made a product that allowed a cosmetic change to Apple's existing product in response to the apparent demand, and they sued the crap out of him.

    I am sick and tired of seeing people arguing about implementations of ideas. I am sick and tired of seeing people trying to claim a monopolistic chokehold on the technology industry, simply because they were able to get to the patent office first. I am sick and tired of being afraid to publish my own software, due to the fact that someone out there will claim I'm infringing on some obscure, obvious "to one skilled in the arts" method of doing something that they have a patent on... like clicking a button, or scrolling a text field.

    These intellectual property laws are stifling innovation, doing the exact opposite of the original purpose of the system; patents were desig

  • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @06:29PM (#38330212)

    I need a little advice.

    I am looking to purchase a smartphone, but with all these lawsuits it has become exceedingly difficult to determine exactly which phone will allow me to join the highest possible amount of future class-action suits. I am hoping the sum of settlement payments will exceed the actual cost of the phone and result in a net profit.

    Any suggestions?

    • iCup and accessory iString might be right for you.

      (they come in white, too, if that matters. and it does, for some folks.)

  • RTFA Anyone? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ninetyninebottles (2174630) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @06:38PM (#38330296)

    I read the whole list of comments and did not see a single person mention the fairly important part of the article that seems left out by he summary and headline:

    The alternative is that Apple has given some of its patents to Digitude because the patent troll came after it first. The dozen patents Apple has handed over may have been part of a settlement with the firm, along with the license agreement (which would presumably give Apple the rights to its patents, and additional Digitude patents). This seems more likely.

    How is it with over a hundred comments no one seems to have RTFA and seen the analysis by Kincaid that says this is most probably a case where Apple was sued by the patent troll and transferred patents as part of a settlement for the lawsuit? Mind you Apple probably could have and should have fought back and demanded a cash only settlement in order to prevent the patent trolling form propagating, but then I can understand not doing so. Microsoft has certainly transferred its patents with trolls several times so paying hard cash to protect competitors seems like a losing strategy in our very, very broken market.

  • by OverflowingBitBucket (464177) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @07:29PM (#38330726) Homepage Journal

    Looks like Apple wants in on the patent extortion rort.

    Apple's competitors can pull the same tricks too- I'd fully expect a few "innovation startups" to spring up soon, preloaded with patent portfolios, and start hitting Apple back.

    My hope is that in the resulting mess a few senior people in the bigger organisations take notice and figure out that they could make huge savings by spending some of that money on political lobbying instead, get patent laws cleaned up, and pull the fangs from these lawsuits. These organisations have made great efforts to get the cheapest manufacturing, labour, and development costs. It seems strange that they haven't gone for similar savings in the legal area as well.

    But I know that I'm hoping for too much.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @09:22PM (#38331430) Journal
    Basically, Apple does not want the hit on them, so followed the Sun/MS model of getting another company to do the hit, with the ability to bring money back to them.

    Changes in laws are needed. It is truely a disgusting set-up with fucking lawyers.
  • by jimicus (737525) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @07:42AM (#38333846)

    Let's take a step back, stop foaming at the mouth and try to look at this dispassionately. Please note before reading that IANAL.

    It's already been documented that Jobs was Not Happy with the direction Android was heading in, and wanted nothing less than to kill the platform altogether, to hell with any collateral damage this might do the industry as a whole. I think it's vanishingly unlikely that Jobs surrounded himself with people who would take a live and let-live attitude, so the fact that he's passed on is likely neither here nor there.

    Now, it's unthinkable that Apple might have failed to notice Microsoft's ability to extort royalty payments out of Android handset vendors. So it looks like they're trying to do the same thing. This makes a lot of sense for two reasons:

    1. Anyone looking to base a new product on Android will now think twice - is "free" such a bargain if you've got to license so many patents from so many places? Might be cheaper to build your own or license a commercial product and get some sort of patent indemnification at the same time.
    2. Anyone who's already got a bunch of Android products on the market will be paying Apple.

    But there's a problem. The cellphone industry is absolutely swimming in patents - some of which must be licensed on reasonable, non-discriminatory terms, some of which have no such restriction, some of which are in enough of a grey area that the holder could easily eat up a lot of lawyer time. Apple can certainly expect counter-claims if they sue every Android handset maker on the planet - and regardless of the outcome, each will mean years thrashing out a solution. Years of injunctions to prevent sale of the latest product, appeals against those injunctions, the works.

    Solution? Well, if a company that doesn't make anything does the suing - a patent troll, if you like - there's much less scope for retaliatory counter-claims. Set up such a company, transfer the appropriate patents to it and let that company do the suing. An elegant solution engineered explicitly to game the legal system. But I'm not sure how the legal system will react to such a gaming - I can see it attracting antitrust action.

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