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Apple Sues HTC For 20 Patent Violations In Phones 434

eldavojohn writes "Taiwanese HTC is being sued by Apple for 20 patents regarding the many phones HTC manufactures. Steve Jobs was quoted as saying, 'We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We've decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.' Apple has similar patent litigation with Nokia and may be trying to scare the rest of the industry into licensing patents similar to the Microsoft-Novell and Microsoft-Amazon deals regarding patents covering Linux functionality."
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Apple Sues HTC For 20 Patent Violations In Phones

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  • by Orange Crush ( 934731 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @12:52PM (#31331386)

    Apple didn't invent the smartphone, and I'm sure there are a slew of fundamental patents held by other companies that can take Apple to the cleaners if they keep pulling this crap. HTC's been making smartphones for over a decade, so I hope they're able to fire back. Not to mention Google designed most of Android, so won't it be interesting if they join the fray?

    I'll be interested to hear more about what specific patents Apple is trying to bludgeon HTC with, but I'll hardly be surprised if it's a bunch of trivial crap like basic UI elements.

    Apple looks like a bully right now, and if that's the case, I hope the other kids on the playground gang up on Apple and teach them a lesson.

  • by idiotnot ( 302133 ) <> on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @12:53PM (#31331418) Homepage Journal

    Maybe Apple should pay Nokia's patent royalties first before they go bullying others?

    Is that still in litigation?

    Too bad the mobile phone industry is a small one, everyone of the existing players cross-license between each one and ass behaving Apple is in serious trouble if the other companies stop licensing their technology.

    This isn't aimed at HTC; it's aimed at Google. Don't kid yourself. To whom, is Google paying license fees?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @12:54PM (#31331426)

    Apple has been thieves since nearly the beginning and probably still are, shoe being on the other foot is uncomfortable for Mr hypocrite, er, I mean Jobs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @12:55PM (#31331444)

    As much as I hate Apple, have never used or intend to ever use an Apple device. The blame on this should fall squarely on the patent office for handing out completely ridiculous patents.

  • by copponex ( 13876 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:02PM (#31331554) Homepage

    Apple sort of deserves to profit from their R&D

    And will Apple pay Xerox for inventing Graphical User Interfaces? Will they pay Nokia for developing cell phones and smart phones for years? Hypocrisy is the one of the most despicable traits imaginable. This lawsuit has that coming out of it's ears.

    And as far is hugely innovative... I guessed the form factor in 2006. If I had a company built on the technology developed by others, maybe I could be the one running around like a greedy bitch pretending that I did it all on my own. []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:02PM (#31331556)

    Fuck you Steve Jobs.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:05PM (#31331610) Journal
    You think so?

    Apple are well known for being litigious pricks, and for having a hard-on for dubious patents that just won't quit; but that doesn't seem to have hurt them much.

    It would appear that the lesson that they learned from the "look and feel" lawsuit of the mid-90's was that everything is more fun with a giant pile of patents.
  • Apple vs. Google (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kylant ( 527449 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:07PM (#31331634)
    Actually this might be the first salvo in Apple vs. Google.

    Google does not build devices and is therefore harder to attack than a manufacturer/importer, who builds android devices. Google on the other hand might feel compelled to help HTC, if this is actually about Android.

    Might be interesting to see how this plays out.

  • Multi-touch (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vijayiyer ( 728590 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:07PM (#31331636)

    I was at a ski resort the other week, and I heard two people talking about iPhone vs. other smartphones. One person had an iPhone. The iPhone owner said something to the effect of "Does Android have pinch to zoom? If so, I will go check it out". The UI of the iPhone is Apple's invention and gives it a competitive advantage. Why is it wrong for them to defend that?

  • by mamer-retrogamer ( 556651 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:12PM (#31331702)

    I guess Steve Jobs has had a change of heart on one his most used phrases? (See Steve Jobs "artists steal" quote) []

  • Re:Post is BS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:13PM (#31331712) Journal

    The lawsuit is not "similar to Microsoft's" patents over Linux functionality.

    Well, the Apple patents are basically software patents [] in relation to phones.

    So, as the submitter, I saw a lot of similarities here. Basically when Microsoft entered the operating system market, they borrowed a lot of ideas and they innovated some as well. Then they patented as much software "methods" as they could. Now you see them demanding everyone to pay protection money who is using Linux.

    Now, you have Apple entering the mobile phone market and borrowing ideas from around the industry and innovating some. Then they patent their software "methods" on these phones and wait for everyone to adopt them. How many tens of millions of units have they let HTC ship? And now they're basically suing Nokia (of all companies []) and HTC.

    The post immediately denigrates the validity of the litigation by linking it to something that it is not.

    Considering the above, I'm not sure which case is more degenerative ... but they're both pretty despicable in my opinion.

    I am interested in your view of how these two cases are different. I don't think pointing out that someone may just be flexing their software patent portfolio against the industry is "editorializing" or "BS" when it appears this is exactly what both companies are doing with different results.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:13PM (#31331714)

    There have been touch screen displays long before 2008. How much did Apply pay to get this patent?

    This patent sound like rewording of showing stuff on a touch screen display.

    There have been touch screens but how many of them automatically changed based on rotation?

    I don't think the invalidness of the patent is as clear as you make it out to be...

    That said, there HAVE been rotating displays in the past and it seems to me that the combination of a touchscreen (just another kind of display) with rotation is not really unique enough to patent. But perhaps there is more going on there.

    In general I think pretty much all software patents are questionable, but Apple also does a good job thinking through hardware as well so it could be they have a number of perfectly valid patents.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:16PM (#31331766)

    Let's see you pick on RIM or Palm, Apple.

    Go ahead. Then watch your ass being handed to you afterwards.

  • Re:Multi-touch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:16PM (#31331768)

    Because they did not invent pinch to zoom, it had been used before. Furthermore it is obvious, and therefore should be unpatentable.

  • Not similiar (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cstdenis ( 1118589 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:19PM (#31331810)

    "similar to the Microsoft-Novell and Microsoft-Amazon deals regarding patents covering Linux functionality."

    MS: You might be infringing on one or more unspecified patents.
    Apple: You are infringing on these specific patents listed in the suit.

    Not really all that similar. One is an empty threat, the other is serious legal action.

  • by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:20PM (#31331838) Homepage Journal


    "Apple reinvented the mobile phone in 2007 with its revolutionary iPhone®, and did it again in 2008 with its pioneering App Store, which now offers more than 150,000 mobile applications in over 90 countries. Over 40 million iPhones have been sold worldwide.

    You heard them. Not 'invented', reinvented! And then re-reinvented! I think they omitted this, but Steve Jobs was quoted as saying "We would like other companies to compete by re-reinventing their own phones, not stealing ideas like a screen you can touch or a program you can download for local use. These innovations are clearly thanks to us."

  • by kylant ( 527449 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:20PM (#31331842)
    What I particularly don't like about this is that it appears that most of Apple's patents are about the user interface (pinch-zoom, ...), not about actual hardware inventions.

    The difference is, that hardware patents can usually be worked around, as long as you can keep the user interface stable. Changing the user interface on the other hand means that the enduser must adapt, which he usually is reluctant to do. It is a form of monopoly.

    Imagine, for comparison, that Alfred Vacheron had patented the steering wheel in 1894 and had been unwilling to license it to competitors. The outcome could have been that dozens of different ways to steer a car would have been invented and users would have troubles switching between manufactures. A serious hindrance to a competitive market.

  • by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:22PM (#31331874) Homepage Journal

    There have been touch screens but how many of them automatically changed based on rotation?

    Back in the early 90s, the Radius Pivot display [] automatically changed based on rotation.

    Existing product from the 80s plus touch screen (and possible change of sensor technology *) should not equal patentable innovation, in my view.

    [ (*) I don't know if the Radius display used a mercury switch or a mechanical switch on the pivot mechanism; either way, using a mercury switch to implement a pivoting display is obvious, given the idea of a pivoting display.]

  • by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:32PM (#31332016)

    There's a patent for screen rotation and scaling? That's nuts.

    Patented inventions are supposed to be novel and require some genuine inspiration, not something that's obvious. The idea that you can use orientation sensors and linear transforms to make a picture that's always right-side-up and that's different sizes is laughable -- as soon as you decide you want to do it, the way to do it is obvious. Just because someone hasn't done it before doesn't mean that it required any patent-worthy cleverness to do it.

    Patents are supposed to encourage invention and innovation by giving people who invent clever novel things a way to profit from them, not a way for some business to lock out competition. The screen-pinch-to-scale thing? Again, pretty obvious. (My eeepc has that on the touchpad, actually.)

    As an example, suppose you wanted to make a mouse that could sense rotation/twist as well as translation. Any idiot would realize that an easy way to do this is to put two optical sensors (or balls) on it, one on each side, and do some simple math. Something like this shouldn't be patentable.

    One rather ridiculous example is the Four Thirds imaging system. Olympus decided they'd like to use a different size CCD than other camera makers to make a digital SLR, and they actually patented it! They decided what size sensor, what size lens mount, what register distance, etc. to use, and then patented these engineering choices. There's nothing inherently different about the Four Thirds SLR's than any other digital SLR -- they work in the ordinary bog-standard way. (Patent absurdity aside, mine does take nice pictures.)

    Patents need to be restricted to real inventions, not simple choices that anybody with a bachelor's degree could have come up with when faced by a problem. Fix this and you fix a lot of the problems with patent trolling.

  • by jackspenn ( 682188 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:35PM (#31332072)
    Steve Jobs is a dick and the people who hang onto him are nuts.

    This patent BS is a joke. Did HTC hack, steal or corrupt Apple's trade secrets? Not at all and nobody believes that. It is one thing if a company steals your stuff, it is completely different if they come up with a similar idea/process independent of you.

    The part that makes this so laughable is that Apple is using the iPad name when two other companies already have claims to it. It is amazing to me that a company that bullies and takes from others with one hand has the balls to wave a finger at other companies (Especially ones that behavior better).

    I love the iPad propaganda that says "you just do".


    How do you "do" two apps at the same time? Who doesn't multi-task these days?

    How do I "do" Java and Flash? I mean if it is the best way to browse the web, then I assume it supports key web technologies.

    How "do" I drag and drop music and documents onto my iPhone/iPad from Linux and Windows? Am I free to not use iTunes?

    How "do" I tether my laptop to my iPhone or ipad for internet access? Android has a wifi-tether app, is there an app for that on the iPhone?

    How "do" people who don't have an Intel based Mac write apps? I can write Android and Blackberry apps without needed specific hardware.

    How "do" I release iPhone apps, without giving away my intellectual property and source code? Does Apple allow me to protect my trade secrets like it does?

    How "do" I not pay so much and have my choice of carrier? AT&T's network is cheap while the plans are expensive.
  • by Marcika ( 1003625 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:37PM (#31332120)


    "Apple reinvented the mobile phone in 2007 with its revolutionary iPhone®, and did it again in 2008 with its pioneering App Store, which now offers more than 150,000 mobile applications in over 90 countries. Over 40 million iPhones have been sold worldwide.

    Steve Jobs was quoted as saying "We would like other companies to compete by re-reinventing their own phones, not stealing ideas like a screen you can touch or a program you can download for local use. These innovations are clearly thanks to us."

    Yes, this phenomenon is known as Reality Distortion Field (or to use technical jargon, "lying scumbag executive").

    A program you can download on your phone for local use? You mean like JavaME JAR files? Like the app store that GetJar [] started years and years before Apple?

    A screen you can touch? Like the LG Prada, announced before the IPhone, or like hundreds of other touchscreen kiosks in the last three decades?

    Yup. Apple. Re-inventing marketing.

  • by recharged95 ( 782975 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:41PM (#31332182) Journal
    Look, HTC builds H/W, they stick anything Linux or WinMo underneath and then slap a modular UI ontop (SenseUI)-- the UI is very portable and can mimic a lot. It's a great design-concept IMHO.

    It's also becoming the best UI out there and seriously threatening Apple's bread-n-butter: its heavily advertised, "innovative" UI design (for the ipXXX's).

    For one, this is a great marketing ploy by Apple to put a stick in the ground that they practically invented the mobile device UI (which it's "mainstream" customers like as it's branding and makes them 'feel' good buying an Apple product). And two, as SenseUI evolves, its design and Android's dev model allow it to evolve much faster than the iPhone UI. And we all know 2 independent dev teams will likely converge/create similar features overtime (think Gnome vs. KDE), since the user cases are the same! Hence, one can conclude HTC/SenseUI can claim [similar] newer UI features since they can release faster. Basically, Apple can't keep up. Hence suing will slow HTC down so Apple can release UI features before HTC does and claim it's a Apple "innovation".

    Let's face it, patents aren't for protection anymore, they're tools for marketing strategy and engineering time-to-market, i.e. in other words, market control.
  • by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:46PM (#31332262)

    HTC's been making smartphones for over a decade, so I hope they're able to fire back.

    I doubt it. They may have been making phones for a long time but it was only in the last 3 years did they actually start trying to push their own user interface. In other words, they just took generic Windows Mobile software and UI and slapped it onto their hardware.

    In the last couple of years we saw them gradually add a plugin to the homescreen and enhance that until eventually they took over the first layer of the UI with TouchFLO in Diamond. By that time the iPhone was already out and you could see several pieces of functionality "inspired" by the iPhone make it's way into later releases.

    (mind you, they never fixed my pet peeve which was adding a sensor to the phone so the screen turned off when you held it to your ear - instead going for ugly software hacks that never really worked properly)

  • Re:Multi-touch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tgd ( 2822 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:53PM (#31332440)

    Thankfully patent examiners understand there is a difference between obvious after the fact and obvious before the fact.

    When no one was doing it, then suddenly everyone wants to be doing it, that's a pretty good example of something that was clearly not obvious before the fact and was after.

    That's true of any patent. To anyone mechanically inclined, a huge percentage of mechanical patents (say, as an example, rack-and-pinion steering) are totally obvious once you've been shown there was a problem and have seen someone'e solution. It doesn't mean, a hundred years ago, that rack and pinion steering wasn't patentable -- because the examiners know if it was obvious and there were a hundred inventors looking at the problem, they'd be sitting on a hundred patent filings.

    Multi-touch is an obvious solution to how you provide more complex gestural indications to a touch device ... now. But five years ago when there were gobs of touch applications in industry, and gobs of touchpads on laptops there were gobs of people looking at how to provide better gestures, and not one of them came up with that *even though the hardware supported it in many cases*.

    That tells you something about the patentability of multi-touch. Apple released it and suddenly everyone was wanting to duplicate it on phones, touchpads and touchscreen computers.

    Patents are made to cover exactly that situation -- where someone finds a solution to a problem that no one else has *especially* where its obvious after the fact (since the obviousness makes it easy to copy).

  • by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:00PM (#31332568)

    The primary piece of the patent, however, is rotating the touch screen. A touch-screen is nothing more than a screen with a pressure sensitive layer, so when you have a rotating screen already, and you have touch technology, a rotating touch-screen is obvious.

    Putting all the pieces together in a new configuration is just engineering, it isn't necessarily innovation and it isn't patent worthy.

    Besides, there had been messaging phones that flipped the screen when you went into sms mode. Basing that on an accelerometer instead of a keyboard slide out is trivial, it's just using a different kind of switch.

    I think the whole reason Apple didn't go after Nokia is because their patents were on shaky ground to begin with. I think they are trying to scare HTC, who is quite a bit smaller than Nokia, and I hope HTC doesn't fall for it. The Hero is way better than the iPhone. :P

    Not that I'm trying to bash Apple, I appreciate what they did bringing smartphones to the consumer market, but I think they have a comeuppance coming for all the dirty tricks they like to pull (you should see what they do to their own employees!).

  • by ConfusedVorlon ( 657247 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:05PM (#31332662) Homepage

    doesn't HTC make most of the android phones anyway?

    if Apple shut them down, they effectively shut down a large part of Google's ability to deploy phones.

  • by sbeckstead ( 555647 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:06PM (#31332670) Homepage Journal
    Why do people who are ignorant of the specifics of the patent process and in fact of the technology that they claim was there first always say that. Please relieve your ignorance first then try to make intelligent statements about these things. Just because a technology similar to the one being patented existed in one form or another does not make it un-patentable in this form and implementation. It just makes you sound stupid when you spout this kind of crap. I once thought as you do but then I got a patent on network printer drivers with specialized hardware and even though network printer drivers with specialized hardware had existed before, ours was indeed unique and patentable. So do some research please.
  • by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:08PM (#31332714)

    I think he meant in the hearts and minds of geeks, not an actual decline. Microsoft is as strong as ever, yet it is the bottom of the barrel in opinion around here. Hell, Gates aught to be every nerd's hero, he's the richest man in the world (or one of, it fluctuates) for selling computer software!

    Same with Apple, they really are a dirty, nasty company. For some reason putting out pretty products that aren't Microsoft makes you golden among geeks though. Never mind that they treat their employees, their customers, and developers like pieces of scum, and it is only by the grace of Jobbs that they are permitted to use their products at all.

    Seriously, get over Apple. OSX is neat, Macs are solid, their iPods are the best, but the company is run by grade - A assholes who think you are pure trash. Great products, shitty ass company. I really wish people could see the difference.

  • I looked at the 1st one and it was something like the aesthetics of minimising and maximising icons. That's not what we should have a patent system for.
  • by jpmorgan ( 517966 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:14PM (#31332802) Homepage

    And given Apple's lawsuit against HTC, I'd say Nokia's decision to demand a license to Apple's patents is pretty damn prescient, don't you think?

    Seriously, who is worse off if the two can't use each other's patents: Nokia, which has to avoid a few multitouch gestures, or Apple who has to avoid using basically any radio device at all?

    Apple are giant cocks. That is all.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:36PM (#31333152)

    And given Apple's lawsuit against HTC, I'd say Nokia's decision to demand a license to Apple's patents is pretty damn prescient, don't you think?

    Nokia agreed, when handing over the patents to the GSM standard, to license them in a certain manner to everyone. That's what RAND means (see link below).

    Apple never agreed to license Apple patents to anyone, under any terms.

    I am not quite sure why the relation of patents to standard bodies is so hard for otherwise intelligent people on Slashdot to understand. When a standard is created that uses patents, the patent holders agree to let all companies use the same terms to make use of the standards. Otherwise the standard would never work, if each company that wanted to implement the standard had to negotiate with each patent holder new terms no-one would adopt it.

    I honestly don't know how it can be put any more simply than that; hopefully you and others will be able to follow along. Perhaps you and others need a trip to the RAND definition []?

    The normal case is that when joining the standardisation body, companies agree that if they receive any patents on technologies which become essential to the standard then they agree to allow other groups attempting to implement the standard to use those patents and they agree that the charges for those patents shall be reasonable

    Again, Apple never put its patents under and RAND terms. Nokia did.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @03:20PM (#31333848)

    dude, you're so full of it.

    First, unless you're one of the lawyers on the case (which I doubt) you have precisely as little idea as anyone else about the exact details of what Apple offered and what Nokia demanded. They're not made public and all we have is some Apple PR about how they were 'treated unfairly'. Maybe you're one of the guys who take a second helping on everything Apple dishes out, but I for one am skeptical of PR in general.

    Second, stop bloody brandishing RAND. Key to RAND is reasonable. Going back to the post above about one offering $10 stuff for the other's $20 stuff, Apple can claim a dirty sock would have been a reasonable payment if they like, but just saying it won't make it true. So unless you can point out

    1. what Apple offered
    2. what Nokia requested
    3. what others paid for the same patents

    kindly stop trolling about this matter. Once it goes to court and we all get to see the numbers (if that happens and they're not sealed) then we can argue who was in the wrong. Until then pretty please with sugar on top STFU about it.

  • First there's a patent that prevents the USPTO from rotating applications 180 [], and now they can't even turn their screen to read stuff?

    Off-topic, but the reason the USPTO sends stuff back is because it's the job of the client-paid $600/hour patent attorney to file his or papers properly, not the job of a government-paid worker to dot their i's and cross their t's for them, and verify that every page out of several hundred pages is properly filed.

  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @03:50PM (#31334364) Homepage

    You are confused.

    People are complaining about an obvious injustice. Certain things are simply competetent engineering applied to the state of the art.

    The fact that the law and an incompetent PTO allows these things to be entangled in patents is another matter.

    Apple's patent "disclosures" add nothing to the state of the art. All their patents do is deprive non-Apple engineers the right to the product of their own intellect.

  • A Few Points (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Me! Me! 42 ( 1153289 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @03:50PM (#31334382)
    Just a few points:
    RE: touch screens -- Fingerorks (owned by apple) just because you've seen it elsewhere doesn't mean Apple has no claim. []

    RE: NOKIA patents
    Terms must be "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory." If they have pooled the patent, they need to offer the same terms to Apple as everyone else.

    "Stolen BSD kernel"?
    Get off drugs, scratchpaper!
  • Thank you. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jwietelmann ( 1220240 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @04:02PM (#31334556)

    If I had mod points, I'd give you all of them.

    So many people fall into the same old predictable argument of "well clearly it wasn't obvious if no one else did it yet," and "sure it seems obvious after the fact." But you've illustrated exactly the problem with that line of thinking. These companies aren't patenting novel solutions to old problems; they're patenting the most obvious solutions to new problems. In our current patent system, the first person to encounter a new problem gets a patent. So if I'm making a portable music player and I ask myself, "What's the best way to scroll through my playlist with continuous motion, given limited space?" then I inevitably come to the conclusion that I need a circle. Unfortunately for me, Apple made iPods first, so if I want decent circular-motion-based controls, I'm dead in the water.

    Just because you thought of a solution first does not mean that it wasn't obvious; in many cases it just means that you were the first one to encounter the problem.

  • by snowwrestler ( 896305 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @04:28PM (#31334930)

    Any patent is a form of a monopoly, granted for a limited time. Many user interfaces have been patented, including one of the most enduring, the QWERTY keyboard. It gives the inventor a chance to make money from their idea, but ultimately releases it for broad public re-use. I have no problem with UI patents; UI matters a great deal to the functioning and success of a device.

  • I'm confused. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @05:22PM (#31335880)

    So you're telling me that Microsoft was engaged in serious legal action?

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them. -- Bill Vaughn