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Push Email Suspended On iPhones In Germany 164

Posted by timothy
from the fine-grained-patent-sniping dept.
New submitter elashish14 tips this news, snipped from Ars Technica: "Apple has been forced to disable push e-mail delivery for iCloud and MobileMe users in Germany this week. The move is thanks to a recent injunction awarded to Motorola as part of the ongoing patent dispute between the two smartphone makers.... The patent at issue relates to older pager designs, but Motorola was able to convince a German court that it applied to Apple's implementation of push e-mail that syncs across devices via iCloud. The injunction went into effect on Thursday of this week, requiring Apple to disable push e-mail syncing in Germany."
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Push Email Suspended On iPhones In Germany

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  • Truce (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sg_oneill (159032) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @04:06AM (#39156783)

    Yet another way the consumer is being raped by this senseless patent war. Call a truce you loopy money hungry bastards..

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's sad that their paying customers end up taking most of the hits at the moment, but i think all these petty squabbles between massive corporations are the best way towards positive patent/copyright reform.

      Courts the world over seem to be used not to settle wrongs but simply as a scoring system. Corporation A wins a couple lawsuits and injunctions in Europe, Corp B wins some in the states, Corp A fights back and gets some in Australia, Corp B then tries its luck in Asia. I don't have any figures, but i wo

      • by symbolset (646467) * on Saturday February 25, 2012 @05:03AM (#39157021) Journal
        It was a huge matter of argument when it got written into the US Constitution. Allowing the copyright clause seemed a strategic compromise at the time, but seems now to be a fatal flaw as it has enabled a highly profitable industry determined to use the profits they've garnered thereby to destroy the rest of that document.
        • by houghi (78078) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @05:46AM (#39157141)

          The constitution is nothing but a piece of paper. It is upon its readers to decide if they want to follow it or not.

          Be sure that if it had said that copyright would not be possible and everything should be done under GPL, the industry would have found a way to do what it wants.

          I can not even blame that industry for trying. I can only blame the people that voted for those who allow it.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 25, 2012 @07:56AM (#39157489)

            I can not even blame that industry for trying. I can only blame the people that voted for those who allow it.

            I'm getting really tired of this cop-out. "You can't blame the company, they exist just to make money!"

            Yes, I fucking well can. Companies are made of people, people have moral compasses; if dickheads want to try this shit then they should be lynched for being immoral (aka evil) bastards. This is the Nuremberg defense all over again, "I was just doing my job!" — guess what, asshat? Power comes with responsibility, you don't get to have your money/power and then ignore all the externalities you created.

            • by A nonymous Coward (7548) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @11:19AM (#39158287)

              Your non-violence attitude is fine when all you care about is not starting a war yourself. Doesn't do squat when someone else starts beating up on you.

              That's what's going on here. This particular spate of patent fights was triggered when St Jobs decided to go all holy war on Android and Google and won injunctions against phones which had rounded corners among other stupid patents. Motorola, Samsung, HTC, and other Android makers got caught in the cross fire and shot back. Don't get me wrong, Apple fan-boys: everyone plays the same game, it's just this particular mini-war which was started by St Jobs.

              The fault is with governments that make money from issuing as many patents as possible and lawyers who make money from fighting as many patent battles as possible. It's quite evident that "obvious to anyone skilled in the arts" and "for a limited time" mean nothing. Patents would have a purpose if they were actually limited to innovative clever not-so-obvious features and there were only, say, one thousandth the number we have now.

              But it's also obvious that governments and lawyers have an interest in not limiting patents to the truly innovative, and we'd be better off with no patents whatsoever. Innovative companies would always have a lead in clever designs, and early adopters would be glad to pay a premium for that and quality. Copycat companies would always be playing catchup and have to charge less for mass production.

              The world would be a better place if all those patent lawyers and government bureaucrats had to find useful productive work instead of being parasites who gum up the works.

              • by don.g (6394)

                I disagree (and agree with #39157489 [slashdot.org]). "Parasites who gum up the works" -- and I know lawyers and government employees who most definitely do not fall into that category -- will stay as long as we accept them as a necessary evil. The system will remain broken as long as we continue to say "OK, that's how the world works, we're stuck with it". As long as we think "Nothing I do will make any difference".

                What does this mean? It means avoiding buying products made by companies who have serious ethical lapse

                • Is it your claim that Android businesses should not strike back with their own patent claims after St Jobs went on the warpath?

                  Are you saying they should sit back and wait while hordes of angry ethical customers desert Apple and flock to Android and save their bacon?

                  Not only is that bonkers, your ethical consumers are independent of self-defense. I myself steer clear of St Jobs products because I think his single minded control freakery produces inflexible inferior products. But that's nothing to do with

                  • by don.g (6394)

                    I don't know what Android businesses (the big, big, big ones who are in this fight) should do but I don't get to decide anyway. I don't think ethical customers leaving Apple will save them -- and I don't think things are as black and white as "Apple: unethical; Android handset manufacturers: ethical" anyway. But I'm going to avoid supporting what I see as bad behaviour. I know that my individual action won't make any difference by itself. But I'm going to do it anyway.

                    And oh wow, I'm not going to pat my

          • by sjames (1099)

            Why not blame the industry that tried it? Do you blame the bank guards for failing if someone robs the bank? Do you find the 419 scammers blameless?

    • Re:Truce (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Pf0tzenpfritz (1402005) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @05:37AM (#39157115) Journal

      The weirdest thing about this is, that there are no software patents in Germany.

      I guess that said software patents might qualify as "regular" patents since there are phones involved.

      • Re:Truce (Score:5, Informative)

        by sulimma (796805) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @06:35AM (#39157243)

        You can patent the "push e-mail to device instead of polling" part, because it does not relate to software. You could implement it with manual labor and pidgeons and would still be violating the patent.

        What you can't patent in Germany is algorithm, so a claim that says "push e-mail where the e-mail headers are processed via regular expressions" would no be valid.

        what is stranger is that if the patent is very broad, it could be invalid because regular letters, faxes, teletypes, etc. have all been based on pushing the message to the receiver so there should be prior art.

        • I am not completely sure about that. AFAIK you can not patent anything involving only "pidgeons and labor" - as it would be quite the same thing as patenting a plain algorythm. What I know fr sure is that there needs to be an implementation in form of a machine or device which can then be patented. I think that's actually what the smartphone are considered in this case.
        • by Rich0 (548339)

          You can patent the "push e-mail to device instead of polling" part, because it does not relate to software. You could implement it with manual labor and pidgeons and would still be violating the patent.

          There isn't anything that a computer can do that can't be implemented with a sufficient number of people enacting some process manually. The most trivial example of this is to take every transistor in a CPU and tell somebody to raise their right hand whenever two other particular people have their right hands raised...

      • by snowgirl (978879)

        Funny, the German wikipedia disagrees with you [slashdot.org]. To be clear, they don't say all software is patentable, but they do explain how computer-timed ignitions are patentable software.

        • by Deorus (811828)

          Why are you linking to a Slashdot story while making claims about the German Wikipedia?

          • by oakgrove (845019)
            She malformed the link and when you do that slash code mangles it like that for you. It happens to all of us at least once eventually.
          • That's because these days, when browsers hide the protocol-colon-slash-slash part of the URI, it's all to easy to omit it while copying. The browser should add it again while copying, but that somehow seems to depend on the way you selected the URI. Happened to me a few times as well. Damn these browser dumbifications.
    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Hell no! Let those assholes who managed to lobby some faulty software patents through reap what they have sown. Let them go nuclear and hurt each other as bad as they can. And perhaps if enough consumers get hurt some people might start to question how did this happen.

    • I think all we need to do is sit back and let them fight. Let the big corporations fight over stupid patents. Yes, it will hurt innovation now, and it will hurt consumer interest in the short term. But by having them fight over hundreds, if not thousands of trivial patents, the system will implode. Companies will have to conclude that patents are starting to become more of a burden than they are worth.

      Wait five years, this will be solved.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Yet another way the consumer is being raped by this senseless patent war. Call a truce you loopy money hungry bastards..

      Tell that to Apple.

      None of this happened until they decided to start suing anyone with rounded corners, demanding injunctions rather then asking for reasonable licensing fees. Before then everyone negotiated with each other for use of their patents.

  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @04:14AM (#39156819) Homepage

    Motorola better hope their old pagers didn't have any rounded corners, or they'll get retroactively sued for predicting future designs.

  • the patent office and companies to focus on really new things, not just playing expensive games with patents.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Patent office is more or less rubber-stamping anything (sufficiently difficult to understand).

      Any obvious erroneous patent that is discovered is simply refereed to as an single unfortunate incident where the patent examiner granted the patent incorrectly. The problem goes a bit deeper than that of course, but as long as the patent office can avoid looking at the real problem, the longer they can take pay checks (without having to consider moral implications).

      Patents, much like copyright are a deal between t

    • Re:I wish (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Splab (574204) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @04:50AM (#39156971)

      This is a really old and actually valid patent.

      Just because you don't like it doesn't make it invalid nor wrong.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Perhaps Apple shouldn't have tried to kill off its competitors with patent trolling.

      • by Deorus (811828)

        Why is it valid in a place that does not recognize software patents when it's all about software?

        How's this an insightful comment at all? Is it because it's anti-Apple? Because I don't see anything insightful here at all, just a completely unfounded claim.

  • by mr_walrus (410770) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @04:23AM (#39156861)

    invalidating the patent is not apples only hope.
    they could, heaven forbid, licence the patent for actual money.

    • by qmaqdk (522323)

      Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I'm sure Apple had a bucket load of old Motorola pagers in the room when they were designed the push software for the iPhone.

      • by maxwell demon (590494) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @04:34AM (#39156925) Journal

        Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I'm sure Apple had a bucket load of old Motorola pagers in the room when they were designed the push software for the iPhone.

        Unlike copyright law, patent law doesn't require that you knew the patent for it to apply.

        • by AuMatar (183847)

          Neither does copyright. Google George Harrison, MY Sweet Lord, and subconscious plagiarism

          • by sjames (1099)

            The truly crazy thing about that one is is spent a decade in court and by the time a judgement was rendered, due to a series of unrelated transactions in the meanwhile, Harrison was effectively suing himself.

    • by Totenglocke (1291680) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @05:56AM (#39157169)
      Ah, but you're assuming that Motorola would agree to license it. I'm not so sure they will since Apple's been hellbent on suing the competition out of existence instead of just beating them in the marketplace. I'm glad that the German courts are making Apple realize that karma's a real bitch.
      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @06:43AM (#39157261)

        All the companies are just interested in making Apple sit down and shut the fuck up. None of this counter-lawsuit stuff started until Apple started to try and shut everyone else down. The other companies that made cellphones had occasional hissing matches with each other, as companies seem to like to do, but it would get resolved since they realized it was in their best interests. While they'd all like to be the one and only phone provider in the world, they know that isn't going to happen so they'll settle for cross licensing and so on.

        Then in comes Apple who decides they can just sue everyone else out of existence. They think they should be the only company other than maybe RIM who is allowed to produce a smartphone or tablet. No surprise it has raised the ire of all the other companies and they are now striking back.

        They don't want money, they want Apple to stop suing. I'm not sure Apple will though, I think they are real scared. Apple's rise to their current mega corp status has all been about getting in to markets that nobody else is really having any success in and making it cool. This lets them sell their stuff with a massive profit margin due to no competition.

        They did it with MP3 players first. They weren't the first company to make one, but they made them cool, made them a fashion accessory. Now everyone had to have one, but not just any one, an iPod. That has waned quite a bit these days, but no problem, because then they brought smartphones to consumers. Blackberry's were always business toys. The US government loves the things but they didn't sell so well on the consumer market. The iPhone made smartphones a thing to have and they did well there. Then of course they made tablets the new toy to have. Most people have no idea why they want one, but they want one.

        However they don't seem to have a "what's next" and unlike the MP3 player situation, people are moving in on phones and tablets quicker than they are ready for. Android went from more or less an experiment to an extremely competent competitor in just a few years and has been selling really well. They see their market slipping, and have nowhere else to go.

        So they are going sue happy, to try and keep everyone else out. If they can't, they risk losing their place of prominence, and no company wants that.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Deorus (811828)

          However they don't seem to have a "what's next" and unlike the MP3 player situation, people are moving in on phones and tablets quicker than they are ready for. Android went from more or less an experiment to an extremely competent competitor in just a few years and has been selling really well. They see their market slipping, and have nowhere else to go.

          This is incorrect. Android ate from Symbian's market, not iOS' (with RIM losing share to both). Not only that but Google has admitted in a hearing regard

          • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @08:59AM (#39157653)

            You're not accounting for the usage habits of the buyers.

            There are *no* ad-supported apps on my cell phone. None. Everything I have installed is either legitimately free, or it came with the phone. And I don't use mobile web at all. I'm on a flex data plan, and my usage is consistently in the bottom tier (25mb/mo). 100% of my data usage is e-mail, calendar, and contacts. I would not show up on either of those statistics. And yes, I have an Android device.

            Considering that the iPhone is marketed as an internet-connected consumer device, specifically for the consumption of stuff on the web, I would be willing to lay odds that iPhone users consume more web, on average, than Android users. Sure, there will be aberrations on either platform, but ultimately I think the numbers will show that on the whole, iPhone users consume more data. That will naturally skew statistics that come from watching peoples' data use: that is, search hits and ad impressions.

        • by Truedat (2545458)

          All the companies are just interested in making Apple sit down and shut the fuck up

          So the only evidence you have of this is a timeline in which Apple made the first move? Go ahead and project your own bias onto it but the more likely situation is that they are all money grabbing bastards the same as each other, including googlerola. The board have sanctioned this move because they think there is a competetive advantage to be had, not because they want play bitch slappin high fives.

          In fact I am rooting for apple not because I am a fanboy (which I am) but because I find this cross licensi

        • The other companies that made cellphones had occasional hissing matches with each other, as companies seem to like to do, but it would get resolved since they realized it was in their best interests. While they'd all like to be the one and only phone provider in the world, they know that isn't going to happen so they'll settle for cross licensing and so on.

          Um. No.

          http://flowingdata.com/2010/10/11/mobile-patent-lawsuits/ [flowingdata.com]

          The _ENTIRE MOBILE INDUSTRY_ is suing each other like crazy right now. Stop pretending this is just Apple getting all up in everyone's faces and everyone pushing back valiantly against Apple - this is _THE ENTIRE MOBILE INDUSTRY_ going to war with each other.

          And, for the record, it seems that Nokia is the most aggressive company out there, not Apple.

          Please, for the love of gawd, if you're going to hate on Apple, at least base it on fact rather

          • The other companies that made cellphones had occasional hissing matches with each other, as companies seem to like to do, but it would get resolved since they realized it was in their best interests. While they'd all like to be the one and only phone provider in the world, they know that isn't going to happen so they'll settle for cross licensing and so on.

            Um. No.

            http://flowingdata.com/2010/10/11/mobile-patent-lawsuits/ [flowingdata.com]

            I really hate those infographics because they dumb down the scenarios so badly.

            Plus that one is wrong, it doesn't even include Apple v Samsung or Apple v Motorola, both Motorola and Samsung's suits against Apple are counter suits.

            The graphic lower down on that page explains that the majority of Nokia's suits are over LCD price fixing (so no shit they are suing multiple companies, it's part of the same fucking suit). But as I said, it does not even include the Apple v Samsung case that has garnered a l

  • the new US District Court of Eastern Texas.

    • Re:Germany is (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Forever Wondering (2506940) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @05:26AM (#39157081)

      the new US District Court of Eastern Texas.

      Actually, Moto has been negotiating with Apple over this patent since 2007--to no avail.

      Generally, the German courts have been much more level headed than Eastern Texas.

      In this particular case, the German court determined that Apple had been negotiating in bad faith, and thus, Moto was entitled to a special injunction (because of Apple's egregious/scofflaw behavior). When Apple saw the handwriting on the wall, they rushed to [the court to] "pay up", but the court said "too little, too late".

      Considering how much of a patent bully Apple is, this is one of the few places where they've been properly spanked.

  • How could anyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macraig (621737) <mark...a...craig@@@gmail...com> on Saturday February 25, 2012 @04:41AM (#39156953)

    After observing the antics of Apple, Samsung, and Motorola in the past year, in particular, how could anyone wind up still believing that patents and copyrights promote creation or indeed help anyone but the assignees? When does the true reform begin?

    • Since the vested interests involved have lobbyists to "educate" our lawmakers and potential lawmakers, pretty much never.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ThatsMyNick (2004126)

      Patents do work, but not in the current form. If it were up to me, I would tentatively approve a patent, make it public and ask if there is any reason this should not become be a patent. Based on the response, the patent can be approved or rejected.

  • Soon companies will advertise their products with their patent folios, not their technology. As in:

    "We do NOT have the best technology, but we have the BEST patents! So buy our phones, because if you buy from a competitor, we will shutdown their features, because we own the patents."

    "And we own the Patent Office and the Courts."

    • by game kid (805301)

      "Only our sweetPhones(R) combine Call Waiting with our patented whizBang(TM) technology (because our unpatented whizBang(TM) technology would get us sued to our very own layer of Hades)!"

  • by gubers33 (1302099) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @05:31AM (#39157103)
    Apple started making iPhone in 2007, then they tried to mess with a company that was making portable phones for over 30 years prior and were the main developers for the backbone all all the cellphone technology. Apple thought they were hot stuff and decided to kick a sleeping dog, they just didn't realize that dog was bigger than them in the cellphone business and would bite them in the ass for messing with them. Apple has a lot of good patents and a lot of bull crap ones, ie round corners on a rectangle. This one is an actual technology and doesn't apply to the 3G standards of FRAND so they are pretty much screwed on it. They asked for it though. Motorola left Apple alone, but Apple had to try to sue Motorola and every other Android phone maker. I guess their lawyers didn't think twice about suing the company that hold nearly every patent that involves the backbone of cellphone technology.
    • by chrb (1083577) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @08:22AM (#39157573)

      I suspect Apple knew what they were doing. They are trying to deal with two huge problems:

      1) Apple is a high-end consumer company, like with PCs they initially do rather well, but over time they end up fighting an ecosystem of other manufacturers who are constantly undercutting them and eroding their market share. That's capitalism, but as Apple won't join the fight for the low-end, they cede it to others. And over time, the low-end gets good enough for most people, and Apple's market share drops to single figures.

      2) Apple had no worthwhile patents on the actual technology of the iPhone, which was already invented by 2007 (design patents don't count). Mobile browsers, email, etc. had already been done for many years, and all of the hardware was licensed and patented by others.

      Apple's response to 1) was to go on the offensive, and try to use the handful of patents they did have which could be applied to smart phones, and use those patents to shut out competitive products (Android being the prime competitor). Apple's response to 2) is to argue that their patents from the last few years are the equal of those mobile patents that other companies have acquired in the last 20 years. i.e. if you want to make a modern smart phone, then you will need to do a deal to license Apple's patents, regardless of how many other patents you have. Apple can then try to use the license terms to negate the advantage of its competitors multi-decade mobile patent portfolios.

      It is an interesting approach, they are playing for keeps in a very high value market. The worst case scenario for them is that they end up with global market share in the single digits, as happened with desktop computers, and their current strategy reflects this overriding concern. At best, they kill Android and regain their 90%+ of the smartphone market. What will probably happen is something in the middle of those two extremes.

    • by Deorus (811828)

      Screwed by a software patent in the European Union? Dude, please!

  • by NGTechnoRobot (2560687) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @05:37AM (#39157117)
    If I have a stick its just a stick, Currently I can patent throwing the stick, balancing the stick on my nose, throwing the stick, but it's still a stick. If I add some string to make it so I can throw it farther its now an enhanced stick worthy of a patent. Hardware is the key and should be the deciding factor when accepting a patent.
  • by Vapula (14703) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @07:23AM (#39157393)

    The big point about having the Nuclear Bomb is to NOT use it...

    Steve Jobs broke the truce and went nuclear against Android... Except that most of his nuclear missiles are rotten (patents on obvious things... didn't we have "swipe" in "Minority Report" for example... and rounded rectangle... no comment)

    Now, it's beginning to backfire... Samsung, Motorola and other would probably not have sued Apple out of existence... But now, Apple has put them in a situation where it's probably the best move...

    My guess is that they will sue Apple again and again until iPhone and iPad go to oblivion... And Apple is in a dangerous situation. It's share is bubbling up... which means that it's perceived value is probably much higher than it's real value... It also mean that the Apple share can drop suddently to levels well below it's real value (panic effect) when the bubble will explode... And market bubble always explode one time or another...

    • by Deorus (811828)

      In which other case has it backfired for Apple. Motorola managed to get the iPhone banned based on standards patents, Apple managed to get the ban lifted and filed an antitrust complaint along with Microsoft against Motorola which could, if accepted, hold Motorola liable for all damages resulting from the iPhone ban in Germany. Now they're suing Apple using a software patent in the European Union, which Apple is very likely to invalidate in an appeal and may make Motorola liable for even more damage. Wit

    • by mjwx (966435)

      The big point about having the Nuclear Bomb is to NOT use it...

      Steve Jobs broke the truce and went nuclear against Android... Except that most of his nuclear missiles are rotten (patents on obvious things... didn't we have "swipe" in "Minority Report" for example... and rounded rectangle... no comment)

      Now, it's beginning to backfire... Samsung, Motorola and other would probably not have sued Apple out of existence... But now, Apple has put them in a situation where it's probably the best move...

      Indeed, just look at what Microsoft did.

      "Dear Android makers,

      We have some non-specific and probably unenforceable patents that would cost you money to defend, we wont sue you if you agree to pay us money."

      And it worked, Microsoft got people paying them for nothing. Apple could have done the same except that Jobs didn't want money, he wanted to stop people competing against him. Now the people Apple has sued have responded in kind and Apple realises that suing one competitor is foolish, only the he

  • If I want instant communication with someone, I'll run skype, or AIM, or an old-fashioned phone call. Maybe even just use SMS. Email was not supposed to be real-time.
  • This is the reason that Google purchased Motorola, because Motorola owns a crap-load (yes that's a technical term) of old generic patents that can be applied to almost anything in the mobile industry. Google has gotten tired of being the guy, with no patents, getting kicked by Apple and Microsoft. I for one am glad to see Google doing the kicking for once! At least Google finally got Linux on the map even if it is a Mobile OS! So I say "Hoorah, Google and Keep Kicking!"
  • Have these people not read RFC822 (updated by RFC2822)? Or is this just the usual incompetence of the patent office?

    • I hope everybody destroys each other utterly and consumers suffer BIG TIME. Maybe then the masses will realize how stupid the patent system has become and how it has not been serving it's purpose for existing. Most the patents in that space should not exist; and many of apples should exist as copyright (which is easy enough to work around.) Apple should have put more time into variations on touch screens if they didn't want to be at risk of copy cats; that patent was one of the few legit ones. Then the oth

      • by gweihir (88907)

        While I do not like it at all, I find that you have a point. Maybe we should just force the patent office and the patent owner to pay significant damages when a patent gets invalidated.

  • Anyone else read that as Putsch email?

  • Thunderbird (on the desktop) happily does that with my IMAP accounts... huh? What am I missing??

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMAP_IDLE [wikipedia.org]

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.

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