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The Strange History of Apple and FlatWorld 89

Posted by timothy
from the surreal-world dept.
Fnord666 writes "When a company called FlatWorld Interactives LLC filed suit against Apple just over a year ago, it looked like a typical 'patent troll' lawsuit against a tech company, brought by someone who no longer had much of a business beyond lawsuits. Court documents unsealed this week reveal who's behind FlatWorld, and it's anything but typical. FlatWorld is partly owned by the named inventor on the patents, a Philadelphia design professor named Slavko Milekic. But 35 percent of the company has been quietly controlled by an attorney at one of Apple's own go-to law firms, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. E-mail logs show that the attorney, John McAleese, worked together with his wife and began planning a wide-ranging patent attack against Apple's touch-screen products in January 2007—just days after the iPhone was revealed to the world."
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The Strange History of Apple and FlatWorld

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  • Ummm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by puddingebola (2036796) on Saturday June 08, 2013 @11:24AM (#43946259) Journal
    Not a lawyer, but doesn't this go under the banner of "conflict of interest"? If Apple has a strong relationship with this law firm, how does having a lawyer at that firm involved in a patent lawsuit against a company he may have represented in the past effect this? I'm sure this guy has probably thought that aspect of this patent fight through, but isn't that an obvious avenue of attack for Apple?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Am a lawyer, just because your firm has ties doesn't mean every attorney is tied to the company. As long as the attorney is effectively screened from any work involved with the company there is no conflict. It's rules 1.7, 1.8, and 1.10 (1.9 is duty to former clients). If this guy worked, personally, on Apple legal work then there's a problem. I don't know if that's the case. The summary just says he's at the firm so I'm guessing he didn't. But he began planning right after the announcement so maybe he talk

    • In apple's patented Reality Distortion Field (tm) there is no conflict of intrest so long as it works in apple's favor.

      The very notion of have an original idea is "stealing from apple"
    • I'm going to point out that when your case is rotten, you fight the battle in the public sphere.

      Having read the article, it looks to me like it was practically a PR release by apple. That being the case, I suspect that for some reason, Apple isn't likely to win this one.

      Why???I don't know. But will point out that the law firm involved seems to have acted with privledged information against the interests of Flatworld. It is entirely possible that the same law firm represents two companies, and if that is the

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        Soon ... making payments ... 6 years after the fact?

        Not likely. Its clear they've been waiting in order to collect massive damages. That doesn't actually go over well, judges tend to tell you to go fuck yourself in those cases.

      • by the_B0fh (208483)

        PR release via arstechnica? So now arstechnica should burn in hell too?

        Wait, am I even reading the same article you are?

        • by makomk (752139)

          Pretty much a PR release via Ars Technica. They're not questioning what Apple are saying in the slightest, and the general consensus seems to be that not only do conflict-of-interest rules not work the way that Ars Technica is portraying them as working, but also that the legal system wouldn't be able to function if they did. From what I recall the bit where they about the firm "letting one of its partners invest in a patent troll, especially one specially designed to target one of the firm's big clients" i

      • Absolutely nothing in this article suggests that FlatWorld is anything except a patent troll.
  • Sword (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Frankie70 (803801)

    Live by the Sword. Die by the Sword.

    • Apple wasn't huge on patents until a stupid patent lost them a bundle on the 1st iPod. After that, Apple patented anything and everything then entered into the fray. Remember they could have owned everything related to a GUI, Xerox sold them all the prior work.

      • Xerox didn't sell them anything. They were an early investor in Apple and allowed a couple of people from Apple to visit PARC. But sure keep deluding yourself.

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by cheesybagel (670288)

          Oh and Xerox only sued Apple after Apple sued Microsoft for copyright infringement. The fact is Apple was suing Microsoft for copying technology they themselves copied from PARC. This is typical Apple, presenting themselves as innovators and creators when in fact they are ripping off someone else's technology.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by cheesybagel (670288)

            Xerox did go to trial to protect the Star user interface. In 1989, after Apple sued Microsoft for copyright infringement of its Macintosh user interface in Windows, Xerox filed a similar lawsuit against Apple; however, it was thrown out because a three year statute of limitations had passed. (Apple eventually lost its lawsuit in 1994, losing all claims to the user interface).
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerox_Star [wikipedia.org]

            Seemingly there are a lot of people here too lazy to use Google.

        • by dissy (172727) on Saturday June 08, 2013 @03:33PM (#43947505)

          Xerox didn't sell them anything. They were an early investor in Apple and allowed a couple of people from Apple to visit PARC.

          And Apple paid Xerox executives for that privilege.

          But sure keep deluding yourself

          It's a sad sad day when anti-technology trolls start arguing that handing over money in exchange for technology is not "selling"

          But keep making up shit to try and look cool bashing Apple. It's worked so well this past decade. They keep on making money hand over fist despite you.

          • by houghi (78078)

            It's a sad sad day when anti-technology trolls start arguing that handing over money in exchange for technology is not "selling".

            If they sell me their phones, am I allowed to do with as I please? If they sell me their software, am I to do with as I please? If they sell me their computer files, am I to do with as I please?
            According to Apple, Microsoft, Sony and others the answer to that would be NO.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        Remember they could have owned everything related to a GUI, Xerox sold them all the prior work.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Computer,_Inc._v._Microsoft_Corporation [wikipedia.org]

        they tried exactly that. selective memory is great!

        • I remembered that case. 1994 was over a decade after the Xerox exchange. That case wasn't about the mouse or many of their ideas and they didn't have patents it was a copyright case and part of their position is that microsoft agreed with them because they had a formal agreement which they thought Microsoft was violating. Xerox's part in that case was not relevant as they had sold their rights away to Apple long before that time.

          Apple was taking copyright too far and didn't bribe enough people; which is wh

  • by TechForensics (944258) on Saturday June 08, 2013 @11:40AM (#43946343) Homepage Journal

    IAAL and I can tell you Mr. McAleese will not be a member of the bar much longer. As attorney offenses go, this is toxic / nuclear.

    This case will disappear quickly now that the real party-in-interest is revealed.

    • by BoRegardless (721219) on Saturday June 08, 2013 @11:52AM (#43946419)

      I doubt it will disappear.

      Apple will now have recourse against the specific attorney and maybe his law firm and the original patent holder.

      In this specific case, I don't think Apple will say "Let bygones be bygones." They will want every cent of their costs paid at the very least and damages due to a corrupted counsel not doing their best for Apple's interests because of the conspiracy between known and unknown attorneys.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      IAAL and I can tell you Mr. McAleese will not be a member of the bar much longer. As attorney offenses go, this is toxic / nuclear.

      This case will disappear quickly now that the real party-in-interest is revealed.

      I don't know. It sounds like he's building his resume to try a get a job with the RIAA or MPAA.

    • IAAL and I can tell you Mr. McAleese will not be a member of the bar much longer. As attorney offenses go, this is toxic / nuclear.

      Is it toxic because Apple is a giant company that most members of Congress are in love with and would secretly bang in the men's bathroom? I'm totally serious: They're the largest company on Earth... why the hell does anyone care how much, often, or with what merit, they're sued? I'm not a lawyer, but as an average person, I'm thoroughly convinced the courts exist solely so rich people can try and out-douche each other. Poor people get no representation. So since this is one rich douchebag engaging another

      • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday June 08, 2013 @12:44PM (#43946697) Homepage

        Although the legal profession often manages to live up to their reputation, try living in a world WITHOUT a functioning legal system.

        The reality is that poor people often (not always) do have access to legal representation. It's spotty, insufficient coverage and like many things (health care comes to mind) the members of the group and society as a whole ought to be working harder, much harder, at improving things.

        But look around you. You want Somalia? Russia? India? China?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          But look around you. You want Somalia? Russia? India? China?

          Okay first, I get your point. And I agree with it. The rule of law is essential to civilization. So let me put that out there first.

          But, if you look at the history of every empire, every major civilization, you will find a pattern of increasing legal complexity to the point that the system itself caves under its own excesses. It becomes pathological and toxic to the purpose it was meant to serve, and ultimately strangles itself. If you read enough anthropology you find that civilization is cyclical -- it st

          • by ultranova (717540)

            If you read enough anthropology you find that civilization is cyclical -- it starts with anarchy, advances to a golden age, and then dies of increasing bureaucratic, legal, and political complexity, and the cycle repeats.

            Can you give an example of a civilization that collapsed for these reasons, rather than some combination of ecological catastrophe, foreign invasion and/or plague? Because I can't think of any.

            • by russotto (537200)

              Can you give an example of a civilization that collapsed for these reasons, rather than some combination of ecological catastrophe, foreign invasion and/or plague? Because I can't think of any.

              Rome. The western empire didn't collapse because it was invaded; it was invaded because it had already rotted out from the inside.

      • by the_B0fh (208483)

        In this case, he was caught pissing in the very pond he lives in. The other residents of the pond hate that. You can pee over anyone else, just not in your own pond.

  • Only Cockroaches and Lawyers will survive. The Lawyers will thus attempt to sue the Cockroaches for damages.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The cockroaches will retaliate by chewing the lawyers's skin off in their sleep and laying eggs in their fatty layer. The cockroach young will then burrow in and eat the lawyers alive.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The cockroaches will retaliate by chewing the lawyers's skin off in their sleep and laying eggs in their fatty layer. The cockroach young will then burrow in and eat the lawyers alive.

        We can only hope.

  • During a feeding frenzy, a shark which is accidentally bitten and begins bleeding will often be eaten by another shark.

    • by blade8086 (183911)

      Indeed:

      Newsflash: Greedy Patent Troll Developer Hires Unscrupulous Lawyers to Sue!

      I fail to see how this is any different..

  • This is a perfect example of a "company" that cant bring a viable product to market, trying to extract money from anyone they can in lieu of having any actual skill.

    The primary patent holder in this case has admitted that he has virtually no programming skills whatsoever, and has used third party packages to attempt to provide a software / hardware solution. He is a psychologist. They had two contracts in 2 and a half years, and bungled one of them so badly as to virtually guarantee the death of the company

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?

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