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Apple Ordered To Pay $8M For Playlist Patents 104

An anonymous reader writes "A federal jury in Texas has decided against Apple in a patent infringement lawsuit and ordered it to pay $8 million to Personal Audio LLC, a patent licensing company (aka troll). The lawsuit started in 2009. Last year Apple's three fellow defendants (Sirius XM Radio, Coby Electronics and Archos) settled. Apple said the patents were invalid and not infringed. The patent holder demanded $84M and will now get about 10% of that amount. Juries in East Texas frequently rule in favor of patent holders. In the same district court Lodsys has already filed four lawsuits. In one of them it targets seven app developers and Apple has moved to intervene. The first two developers were already given a deadline: they must answer Lodsys's complaint by July 21, unless they request an extension."
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Apple Ordered To Pay $8M For Playlist Patents

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  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday July 11, 2011 @09:02AM (#36719184) Journal
    Gigantic cross-licensed patent arsenals certainly do help keep the little people in their place; but there is one additional factor: The patent troll.

    Large patent-holders are mostly locked in a cold war with one another, lots of needless expenditure; but relatively little blood most of the time, and they get to be superpowers and crush smaller competitors like insects(or buy them out when the smaller competitor discovers that they have something quite innovative; but would need to license 3,000 patents to make it to market...)

    Patent trolls, though, by possessing patents; but never doing anything that could infringe on patents(because their only business is patent trolling) disrupt this cushy equilibrium. They are sort of the non-state suitcase bombers with nothing to lose in the patent wars.

    Perversely, if we want meaningful patent reform, it might actually be best to applaud and encourage patent trolling as much as possible. As long as 'defensive' patents build up in the arsenals of incumbents, the incumbents have very limited incentive to change things. The lawyers cost money, sure; but the strategic advantage is worth it. Add enough patent trolls to the mix, though, and they'll have to deal with an enemy who has no interest in cross-licensing and friendship, and who has nothing they can threaten...
  • by Bozdune ( 68800 ) on Monday July 11, 2011 @09:47AM (#36719636)

    Exactly. Large companies have been assembling software and process patent portfolios for years, either to threaten their competitors or to defend (via countersuit) against patent claims from competitors. But the landscape changes completely when trolls with nothing to lose can sue based on some patent they picked up for a few bucks. Hey, big companies, wake up and smell the coffee: your strategy just doesn't make sense any more.

    So ratchet up the pain, trolls. Go for it! I call for more pain. "Pain, Captain." Intense pain. The faster big tech companies wake up to a dismal future of slow death, the faster they'll wake up their trained congresscritters to invalidate the whole ugly, stinking mess. Guys, I'm sorry that your billion-dollar patent portfolio suddenly becomes a zero-value patent portfolio; but it's either that, or you can have your lifeblood sucked out by trolls.

    And, let's not forget that the rest of the world (ahem China ahem) will blithely ignore all of this nonsense. Because their engineers are unencumbered by legions of lawyers, they will innovate us into the Stone Age. I hate to be melodramatic, but this is a national security issue for the USA. Software patents will sink us. They really will.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong