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Patents Iphone Sony The Courts Apple

iPhone Infringes On Sony, Nokia Patents, Says Federal Jury 166

Posted by timothy
from the orange-you-glad-I-didn't-say-samsung? dept.
snydeq writes "A federal jury in Delaware has found Apple's iPhone infringes on three patents held by MobileMedia, a patent-holding company formed by Sony, Nokia and MPEG LA, InfoWorld reports. The jury found that the iPhone directly infringed U.S. patent 6,070,068, which was issued to Sony and covers a method for controlling the connecting state of a call, U.S. patent 6,253,075, which covers call rejection, and U.S. patent 6,427,078, which covers a data processing device. MobileMedia has garnered the unflattering descriptor "patent troll" from some observers. The company, which was formed in 2010, holds some 300 patents in all."
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iPhone Infringes On Sony, Nokia Patents, Says Federal Jury

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2012 @03:14PM (#42277591)

    . . . die by the sword. I hate Sony with the heat of a thousand suns, but would love to see them make Apple write an eight figure check.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @03:16PM (#42277633) Journal

    More than likely we'll just end up with a cross-licensing deal and an end to this particular patent theater of war. Frankly, I don't think Apple's expectation was ever to permanently ban competitors devices, it was simply to delay their release into major markets long enough to cripple sales.

  • patent troll? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rgbrenner (317308) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @03:17PM (#42277655)

    is there really a debate about if MobileMedia is a patent troll?

    They hold patents. Check.
    Specifically formed to sue other companies for patent infringement. Check
    They don't make a single product or use their patents in any way. Check.

    Definitely a patent troll. There is no debate.

    I get it.. you hate Apple. But don't pretend like these assholes are suddenly good for everyone.

  • Re:patent troll? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash (241428) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @03:20PM (#42277695) Homepage Journal

    If they're owned by companies that actually make products, then presumably they're more of a consortium (like the MPEG LA) than a patent troll, per-se.

    I don't know, I hate software patents, but I like seeing companies that trying to destroy competitors products by abusing the patent system being themselves a victim of it.

  • by Neon Spiral Injector (21234) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @03:21PM (#42277723)

    A company that makes no products has no need to cross-license patents.

  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @03:22PM (#42277737)

    My thoughts exactly. Yes, MobileMedia might be a patent troll, but Apple well deserves this lawsuit. I hope that Steve Jobs' thermonuclear approach to Android will backfire on an epic level: once the patent wars leave the shell of dead corporations strewn all over the landscape, people will huddle together and promise themselves "never again" And the only way to do that: no more patents.

    Either that, or we wisen up and make the patent system much more reasonable (working prototype, truly limited time, no patents on math or business methods, etc.). I wonder which one will happen first.

  • Re:patent troll? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Coolhand2120 (1001761) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @03:25PM (#42277797)
    They are jointly owned by Nokia and Sony. So the developers of the technology in question own the company. It is not simply a 3rd party that buys up patents to sue other companies. Because they are owned by the people who developed the technology, I wouldn't call them a patent troll.
  • by tsotha (720379) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @03:26PM (#42277811)
    Probably true, but Apple has been suing the hell out of everyone with the same kind of flimsy portfolio. Sauce for the goose.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2012 @03:35PM (#42277961)

    Wealthy corporations consider patent litigation to be a cost of doing business. They are happy to accept the risk of being victimized by a patent lawsuit from another wealthy corporation, in return for the ability to squash any-and-every small upstart that might threaten their empire.

    Fellow wealthy corporations are generally not a threat to one another. Even when in the same market space, they just form cartel arrangements, pay each other licence fees, and jointly dominate the market. The only real threat they face are young individuals with novel ideas forming small/nimble businesses that totally upset the existing market landscape. The fact that the ability to build such businesses is the foundation of the American dream (and very good for the economy) means nothing. All they care about is protecting them and theirs from such threats, and patent law does an excellent job of that.

    To those who object that small businesses can get patents too: realize that having a patent means jack squat if you don't have the financial resources to afford the patent litigation. Small businesses never do, whether they own any patents or not.

  • by Kergan (780543) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @03:36PM (#42277983)

    If the deal extends to its owners, who actually do make products, then it may have needs.

  • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @03:45PM (#42278177)

    . . . die by the sword. I hate Sony with the heat of a thousand suns, but would love to see them make Apple write an eight figure check.

    Unfortunately the only real winners will be the lawyers.

  • by zuki (845560) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @03:48PM (#42278215) Journal
    Given Apple's current stances on these very issues, I don't expect they're going to get a lot of sympathy here

    Yet beyond the mere satisfaction of seeing the bully take a couple, it does highlight how inherently flawed the patent system has become, and that whether copyrights, patents or trademarks, it's all become so lawyered up as to defeat the very purpose of these limited protections.

    That it arguably poisons the well for the rest of us and human innovation at large is something future generations are going to have to come to grips with; in the meantime as I don't see any short-term end in sight. Not a good time to be a start-up in that space.
  • by Alien Being (18488) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @03:50PM (#42278257)

    They should both be writing billions of hundred dollar checks to pay back all the money they have stolen from consumers.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @03:57PM (#42278369) Homepage

    Actually reading claim 1, we see a patent for a handheld computer containing a camera, that uses a radio to transmit the pictures. In claim 2, this is specified to be the cellular phone network. Now what's interesting is that the first cell-phone cameras came to market in the summer of 1997. Surely this is prior art, yes? And the whole patent is invalid?

    So, I ask you, before 1995 did we have the technology for a computer to transmit images of a camera over a network? The answer, of course, is in 1991 [wikipedia.org] someone had a webcam which showed the coffee pot.

    From the same link, the first commercial webcam was available in 1994, which is now a year before your lower bound. So by then we'd had cameras sending stuff over the network via a computer for years.

    So, now walk me through this one, since I'm apparently quite slow ... if I take something which is already being done "on a computer" and "using a network", which specific part of "hand-held computer" and "cellular network" causes this to be an "invention"?

    We already had desktop computers. We already had some inklings of hand held computers. We could already hook a camera up to a computer and send images over a network. And, by 1990 we had already reached the point of being able to generalize the concept of 'network' to include arbitrary transport mechanisms [wikipedia.org] (IP over Avian Carrier), so a cellular network is a specific variant of networking instead of something fundamentally new. The general problems of networking had been well discussed for years.

    So, given that several years before this patent was even applied for we had mechanisms to "allow a computer to transmit the output of a semi-conductor camera over a network" -- I find it awfully difficult to figure out how this represents anything other than taking several already common things, and putting them into a smaller device which uses a cellular network.

    Small isn't magic. Radio isn't magic. Cellular networks aren't magic. So to me, the first web cam of how much coffee was left covers almost all of the functional aspects of this patent -- except in a smaller box. And the last I checked "in a smaller box" isn't really sufficient to differentiate yourself as a distinct patent.

    If someone had shown me this patent in 1997, I would have said the same thing -- in what way is taking something you can already do, but on a different device something which merits a patent?

  • by Chas (5144) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @04:03PM (#42278493) Homepage Journal

    Because when someone else sues *Apple*, they're a "patent troll".

    But when *Apple* does the same thing in suing others, they're just "protecting innovation".

    Ow. Need to see an ophthalmologist now. I just rolled my eyes so hard I strained something.

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999&gmail,com> on Thursday December 13, 2012 @04:03PM (#42278499)

    They should both be writing billions of hundred dollar checks to pay back all the money they have stolen from consumers.

    I'm curious. What money have they stolen from consumers?

  • by bws111 (1216812) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @04:35PM (#42279017)

    Here is what US patent law says is patentable (this has been the language since 1793): any new and useful art, machine, manufacture or composition of matter and any new and useful improvement on any art, machine, manufacture or composition of matter. Emphasis mine.

    So, was the move from wired webcams on wired network computers to cameras on wireless devices new? Yes. Was it useful? Yes. Was it an improvement on an existing something? Yes.

    And remember, it isn't the idea of a camera on a cellphone that is patented, it is specifically how it is done that is patented.

    Nothing in the patent law, now or at any time in the past, says that to be patentable something has to be so amazingly new that nobody could possibly have thought of it before.

  • by oGMo (379) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @05:25PM (#42279917)

    The only real threat they face are young individuals with novel ideas forming small/nimble businesses that totally upset the existing market landscape.

    Yes but let's not pretend Apple is a "young upstart" just trying to live the American Dream. They're the problem, as much as any other large corp. And unfortunately this is a clear counterexample to your "the only real threat they face" assertion. Apple won't play nice with the other megacorps. This is really a bigger threat, because it means your cartel-esque arrangements can't be made.

    I expect everyone else to band together and make an example out of Apple for any other megacorp who wants to try this in the future, which is what's essentially happening in this case.

  • by headwes (728006) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @07:23PM (#42281763)

    Apple is pissed off that everyone copied them. And everyone did. This is not in dispute. THIS [todayilearned.co.uk] REALLY [obamapacman.com] HAPPENED. [idownloadblog.com]

    Oooh, let me try! [homeip.net]

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...net> on Thursday December 13, 2012 @07:36PM (#42281919) Homepage

    Apple doesn't have any valuable patents to cross license. That has always been their problem. They are up against companies that have been producing mobile tech for decades and own patents that are essential for many of the standards in use around the world. Apple has a bunch of design patents that can either be worked around or invalidated in court.

  • by Eskarel (565631) on Friday December 14, 2012 @01:32AM (#42284371)

    The problem with Apple is that they are probably the largest abuser of the patent system going at the moment. They're not a young upstart, they're not "fighting the cartels", they're using patent law to form a monopoly cartel of one because they are even more greedy and evil than their competition. I hope people make an example out of Apple because they are working very hard on breaking the entire patent system and not in a "we're going to free this up for innovation" way, in a "no one will ever do anything at all in the mobile market if they're not us" way.

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