Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Android Apple

Apple Wins Injunction Banning Import of HTC Devices 314

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the apple-knows-best dept.
Newly accepted submitter squish18 writes "All Things D reports that Apple has won an injunction banning the import of some HTC phones starting in April 2012. The ruling by the ITC stems from two claims of the '647 patent concerning software used to enter personal data in mobile devices. It is interesting to note that the ITC has also reversed previous rulings regarding regarding infringement of two other '647 claims, as well as patent '263 claims." It looks like Apple's victory is relatively minor. They lost claims on all patents except for one, and HTC/Google can work on implementing similar functionality in a non-infringing way.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Apple Wins Injunction Banning Import of HTC Devices

Comments Filter:
  • Evil Monopoly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by YayaY (837729) on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:12PM (#38428578) Homepage

    Apple is becoming an evil empire!

    • Re:Evil Monopoly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ClaraBow (212734) on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:19PM (#38428662)
      NO! The patent system, as it stands, is the reason why every company seems to be suing every other company! It's completely broken, and it seems like companies have to sue each other as part of their operating procedures so they can have leverage when they negotiate cross-licensing! It's completely maddening!
      • Re:Evil Monopoly (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:25PM (#38428704) Homepage Journal

        have to

        Nope. It's a choice. Apple is choosing to strangle the competition while they have the strong hand. Microsoft chooses to set up a protection racket with companies that infringe on their vaguely-defined Linux patents. In contrast, IBM and Google (generally?) don't pursue patent suits unless they're attacked first. (At least, that's the impression that's been put forth by tech journalism.)

        • Re:Evil Monopoly (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:36PM (#38428782)

          Sure, companies are choosing to act the way they are, but the current patent system is incentivizing this behavior. The question should be whether there is a system with better incentives, not whether companies should stop doing what they are doing, because some companies will behave responsibly, but others invariably won't and you have to expect that behavior.

          • Re:Evil Monopoly (Score:4, Interesting)

            by abhi_beckert (785219) on Monday December 19, 2011 @10:01PM (#38429378)

            Sure, companies are choosing to act the way they are, but the current patent system is incentivizing this behavior. The question should be whether there is a system with better incentives, not whether companies should stop doing what they are doing, because some companies will behave responsibly, but others invariably won't and you have to expect that behavior.

            I'm not convinced any companies, even patent trolls, are truly acting irresponsibly. It's impossible to know if a patent is/isn't valid without going to court. And it's impossible to know if a patent is/isn't being infringed without going to court.

            This leads to disagreements between patent holders and potential licensors about just how much should be paid in any licensing agreement, or whether any licensing fees should even be paid at all. To make matters worse, the courts are making stupid decisions all the time.

            In my mind, this is a clear situation where we need to blame whoever wrote patent law in the first place for failing to predict the mess they created. And blame more recent government(s) for failing to do anything about it.

            But how to solve it? That's the trillion dollar question.

            • Re:Evil Monopoly (Score:5, Insightful)

              by aztracker1 (702135) on Monday December 19, 2011 @11:52PM (#38430192) Homepage
              Well, first off, it it a software/design/conceptual patent... it probably shouldn't be valid... If it occurs in nature via breeding, it shouldn't be valid... If it's a business, not a technical process, it shouldn't be valid.

              That would be three good rules to start with.
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by imahawki (984044)

              Sure, companies are choosing to act the way they are, but the current patent system is incentivizing this behavior. The question should be whether there is a system with better incentives, not whether companies should stop doing what they are doing, because some companies will behave responsibly, but others invariably won't and you have to expect that behavior.

              I'm not convinced any companies, even patent trolls, are truly acting irresponsibly. It's impossible to know if a patent is/isn't valid without going to court. And it's impossible to know if a patent is/isn't being infringed without going to court.

              This leads to disagreements between patent holders and potential licensors about just how much should be paid in any licensing agreement, or whether any licensing fees should even be paid at all. To make matters worse, the courts are making stupid decisions all the time.

              In my mind, this is a clear situation where we need to blame whoever wrote patent law in the first place for failing to predict the mess they created. And blame more recent government(s) for failing to do anything about it.

              But how to solve it? That's the trillion dollar question.

              If I figure it out, I'm patenting it!

          • Re:Evil Monopoly (Score:5, Insightful)

            by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@worldCHEETAH3.net minus cat> on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @09:15AM (#38433232) Homepage

            Sure, companies are choosing to act the way they are, but the current patent system is incentivizing this behavior.

            If you own a shop and someone sets up a similar one across town and takes away some of your business you are incentivized to throw a petrol bomb through their window, but that doesn't make it right. In both cases the incentive is profit, and profit can never justify being evil.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Before:
          Sun sued Microsoft over Java. Netscape sued Microsoft over Java. Apple sued Microsoft over the Windows UI.

          Now:
          Oracle is suing Google over Java. Apple is suing Google (through HTC) about several UI elements. Apple is suing Samsung over the tabled look and feel.

          Who's the Evil? The inventor or the copy?

          • Re:Evil Monopoly (Score:5, Informative)

            by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Monday December 19, 2011 @09:58PM (#38429348)

            Sun and Netscape sued Microsoft for antitrust violations. Oracle and Apple have sued over software patents. And Apple pretty much just sues everybody in the phone book, so that isn't really a bellwether of anything.

          • Re:Evil Monopoly (Score:5, Informative)

            by zippthorne (748122) on Monday December 19, 2011 @11:51PM (#38430176) Journal

            Considering what Microsoft was trying to do to Java.. Nothing that Apple or Oracle do can even come close in terms of total evilness (not to diminish their actions, they're just dwarfed in comparison). The truly horrifying thing is that Microsoft basically got away with it scott free.

      • Re:Evil Monopoly (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Nerdfest (867930) on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:38PM (#38428796)
        I find it completely incomprehensible that anyone in the software development field can defend Apple in any way, or buy or recommend any of their products with the attitude and behaviour they've had the last couple of years. Yes, they have some nice hardware, and used to be the underdog, but enough is enough. They need to be shown that it's not acceptable behaviour.
    • Re:Evil Monopoly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eparker05 (1738842) on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:33PM (#38428754)

      Essentially apple patented a method where an 'analyzer program' checks text for patterns (such as phone numbers and email addresses) and makes them actionable with a click.

      The patent goes on to discuss that arbitrary patterns can be searched for using a plugin and that the analyzer software allows for users to select the program that handles the type of link. It seems that Android does indeed violate this patent in every way possible. I wonder if automatic hyperlinking of email addresses count as prior art; although this does not include the user interface element asking which program to use.

      Either way; I think this is a sucky patent to have to contend with. It reminds me why I don't like software patents to begin with.

      • Re:Evil Monopoly (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mug funky (910186) on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:59PM (#38428938)

        i believe word processing software does this with spell checkers.

        the first example of a realtime spell checker i encountered in 1997 with MS Word.

        autofill has been in all browsers since about that time as well.

        google does the same as you type into the search box.

        Apple are full of the worst kind of shit in this case.

        • by esocid (946821) on Monday December 19, 2011 @10:00PM (#38429366) Journal
          Yeah, but this patent adds "on a touchscreen device that makes calls and has rounded corners."

          eh? eh?
        • How many times do I have to say it? You can only patent a method of implementing a system, not just the idea of a system itself. Take a moment, click the link in the summary to the actual patent, read the claims section (not just the abstract), and then tell us whether you still think the prior art you list is actually prior art.

      • by mgiuca (1040724)

        I wonder if automatic hyperlinking of email addresses count as prior art; although this does not include the user interface element asking which program to use.

        In that case, it isn't an invention, it's just two old and obvious ideas put together. For decades, programs have detected patterns in text and automatically linked them or associated a particular action. For decades, programs have asked users what program to use to handle a particular type of content. The idea of "let's detect patterns in text to de

        • Re:Evil Monopoly (Score:5, Insightful)

          by icebike (68054) * on Monday December 19, 2011 @09:37PM (#38429182)

          Once again, Apple is using a law supposedly about innovation to ruin everybody else's chances in the marketplace. Their time on top is over, and legal protection for bogus patents is the only thing they have left.

          Further, this was a horribly expensive "win" for Apple. They lost claims on 4 or 5 patents (these can never be re-asserted) and they won a tiny UI feature, that can easily be programmed around. Apple won't be able to enforce those patent claims against any other phone makers either.

          The permanent loss of the patents far outweighs a UI quirk that can be avoided with a minor programming change which will be in place before the ruling takes affect. Its like going to war with 4 entire divisions, getting totally out trounced, but coming home with a mess-hall cook as a POW.

          A few more wins like this and Apple will need a whole new patent portfolio.

        • by meerling (1487879)
          I remember using a word processor over a decade ago that would recognize internet addresses and ask me if I wanted to turn it into a hyperlink.
          Too bad I can't recall which software that was right now.
          • by mgiuca (1040724)

            Well Microsoft Word 97 certainly did it. I'm not sure if anything predates that, but that is fourteen years old.

      • Like this?
        http://adult.engrish.com/2005/09/20/think-really-different/ [engrish.com]
        ftp://mirrors.kernel.org/debian-cd/ [kernel.org]

        Hmm. Seems ALL browsers and OSs can be configured via to allow arbitrary:// protocols to be opened with a specific program, indeed the latter can do so with plugins... Even when echoed to my xterm, that FTP line creates a link that opens my FTP program.

        Who cares when the patent was granted. It's iterative and obvious, and it has been such since the late 80s wherein I played MUDs that had this

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      Monopoly?

      I'm not sure you understand what that word means. At least, if you believe that they really are a monopoly then those market share figures for Android must be made up. I mean, I know it's hard to imagine anyone buying an Android phone, but I suspect the figures are accurate ;)

      DISCLAIMER: The last sentence is A JOKE (except the part about the numbers not lying).

    • by hellfire (86129)

      Call them an evil empire all you want, I'm not doing to argue. That's the point you are trying to make. But don't call them an evil monopoly. They aren't a monopoly by any definition. I'm tired of people using that word and not understanding what it properly means.

      It's like calling Sarah Palin a stupid man.

  • by nikomen (774068) on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:12PM (#38428584)
    Just another reason why our patent system needs to be changed. And another reason I don't know who to vote for these days. It seems that all politicians (or most) support the current patent system or don't care to do anything about it. I mean, how can you patent touching a phone number on a screen? That isn't even close to an invention. Absurdity.
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:14PM (#38428594)

    From TFA:

    So what Apple has won is a formal import ban scheduled to commence on April 19, 2012, but relating only to HTC Android phones implementing one of two claims of a "data tapping patent": a patent on an invention that marks up phone numbers and other types of formatted data in an unstructured document, such as an email, in order to enable users to bring up other programs (such as a dialer app) that process such data.

    So the non-frivolous claim on which Apple actually prevailed was essentially a regex to find things that look like phone numbers in unstructured text documents, which then link to a dialer app?

    • by makomk (752139) on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:17PM (#38428630) Journal

      So the non-frivolous claim on which Apple actually prevailed was essentially a regex to find things that look like phone numbers in unstructured text documents, which then link to a dialer app?

      It's slightly more complicated than that IIRC, but pretty much.

      • by jhantin (252660)
        Now if only they'd clout Kontera and similar advertising providers with this patent. I don't want the word "books" to automatically become a pay-per-click link to Amazon, thanks.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      >

      So the non-frivolous claim on which Apple actually prevailed was essentially a regex to find things that look like phone numbers in unstructured text documents, which then link to a dialer app?

      And even worse, there was a phone Zimlet available prior to the release of the iPhone that did exactly the same thing, minus the touchscreen equivalent of a click. This is a poor decision at best.

      • by dgatwood (11270) on Monday December 19, 2011 @09:06PM (#38428980) Journal

        Maybe you didn't read the date on the patent. It was filed in 1996 and granted in 1999. This patent isn't an iPhone patent. It's a Newton patent.

        More to the point, the patent application was filed before Google, HTC, or Zimbra were even founded—back in the day when Palm was just starting to take off. You're going to have to look a lot farther back than the Zimlet for prior art.

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          Actually, correction, on further searching, Data Detectors were initially a Copland UI feature (though it might have appeared in Newton at some point as well). My bad.

        • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday December 19, 2011 @11:26PM (#38429960) Journal

          I don't understand this fixation many Slashdot readers have on prior art, especially when examples brought in are much more generic than patent in question (and hence can only do what the patent describes if explicitly set up / programmed that way). I guess it's an attempt to game the existing system, but I very much doubt a non-lawyer's prior art claims would be of much use here.

          Instead, we should be focusing on the real problem, which is how ridiculously broad and over-reaching these patents are. I mean, seriously? a patent on highlighting phone numbers in the text? even if no-one implemented that by 1996, most certainly a lot of people have done it independently since then, when devices where this feature is actually useful have appeared - and that's because the idea is extremely obvious.

        • by hawk (1151)

          Are you sure it's a Newton patent? I didn't 2k35hl any spelling errands in 453k;jk15k . . . :)

          hawk

      • by DJRumpy (1345787)

        Actually Apple patented this in the mid 1990's.

        And even worse, there was a phone Zimlet available prior to the release of the iPhone that did exactly the same thing, minus the touchscreen equivalent of a click. This is a poor decision at best.

    • by errandum (2014454) on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:31PM (#38428736)

      Skype did that before apple every launched an iPhone (obviously, not on a phone, but using phone numbers).

      Whoever allowed them to get a patent like that is an idiot. It's not just the system that is wrong, is the ones controlling it and that should be evaluating patents for things like prior art and actual invention that are failing.

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Yeah, but Apple did it and patented it seven years before Skype was even founded. Everything seems obvious fifteen years after its invention....

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Zalbik (308903)

          Everything seems obvious fifteen years after its invention....

          But some things are also obvious before their invention...like the thing Apple is suing over.

          "New" should not mean the same thing as "Invention" as far as patent law is concerned.

          It quite obviously doesn't promote innovation, and is tying up our legal system with stupid lawsuits that do nothing but harm the consumer.

  • More details (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:15PM (#38428602)

    http://www.itc337update.com/tags/337ta710/

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:18PM (#38428634)

    Can we elect people who will terminate software patents, please?

  • by Sebastopol (189276) on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:18PM (#38428642) Homepage

    The flurry of international tablet lawsuits seems much more rigorous than I remember for any past technology. Was it always this bad?

    Smart phones didn't sue each other this badly. Nor did DVD manufacturers. AMD & Intel went at it hard during the 80's & early 90's. Sony & Betamax sorta duked it out. But the tablet wars seem to be nutso.

    At least the economy for lawyers is booming...

    • by exomondo (1725132)

      At least the economy for lawyers is booming...

      Eventually people will just stop bothering to make things.

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:55PM (#38428914) Homepage Journal

      Smart phones didn't sue each other this badly.

      Smartphones are STILL suing each other, including involvement by Apple. DVD was handled by a consortium and there's no money in going after unlicensed players, although the low-hanging fruit is picked just to keep the people making such things on their toes. Intel totally boned AMD. Betamax was a Sony technology, ITYM Betamax and VHS, but putting onerous licensing terms on a technology and killing it is actually called "Betamaxing".

    • by steelfood (895457) on Monday December 19, 2011 @11:01PM (#38429738)

      No, it wasn't. Apple's terrified of Android--not necessarily what it is, but what it may become, which is another Windows against their MacOS. That's history they don't want to see repeated on the smartphone and tablet. Except, they're a little too late, so they're scrambling around desparately throwing out whatever they can against Android hardware manufacturers in hopes it'll be enough to cripple Android and Android's ecosystem for the near future.

      Meanwhile, Microsoft is just stalling while they try to get their house in order and put out a decent smartphone and tablet OS. This is why they're compelling other companies to pay royalty instead of outright taking them to court over the supposed infringed patents. They want these same companies to make Windows Mobile phones, not to go out of business.

  • by StealthHunter (597677) on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:24PM (#38428690)
    HTC gave Android Central the following statement (updated 6:20 EST): We are gratified that the Commission affirmed the judge’s initial determination on the ‘721 and ‘983 patents, and reversed its decision on the ‘263 patent and partially on the ‘647 patent. We are very pleased with the determination and we respect it. However, the ‘647 patent is a small UI experience and HTC will completely remove it from all of our phones soon.
    • Not having this 'feature' may be a win for HTC. I find it really annoying when I touch a date and have my phone set itself up to dial '2011'. It also doesn't work, because when I try to use this feature, it only recognizes part of the number : usually just the '1800' of '1300' part, which is completely useless.

  • Legal costs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by multiben (1916126) on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:24PM (#38428692)
    I would love to know what fraction of total expenditure for some of these companies is spent on legal tangles. All these cost are of course passed on to the consumer at the end of the day, so the longer this ridiculous farce of a patent system is allowed to continue the longer it will be that we continue to pay inflated costs.
    • by 0123456 (636235)

      The whole point of the patent system is to increase costs to consumers by reducing competition. There'd be no reason to have it otherwise.

    • I would love to know what fraction of total expenditure for some of these companies is spent on legal tangles.

      Hey! You don't think lawyers have to eat too?

  • Fuck Apple (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    or does Apple have that patented too.

  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Monday December 19, 2011 @09:00PM (#38428942)
    uspto.gov requries the use of Apple Quicktime to view images. Whats wrong with gif, jpg, png...
  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Monday December 19, 2011 @09:29PM (#38429128)
    If you filed a patent 15 years ago and there have been infringements of your patent for the last 10 or so years without you even blinking an eye about, it should be declared invalid.

    I recall my pocket pc doing something like this. I bought it in 2002.
  • So apple has a patent for just entering personal data in a mobile device? WTF is next they are ruled to own the patent on the idea of a smart phone?

A method of solution is perfect if we can forsee from the start, and even prove, that following that method we shall attain our aim. -- Leibnitz

Working...