Home > Legal > Apple Loses Patent Troll Lawsuit Apple Loses Patent Troll Lawsuit Thom Holwerda 2010-10-04 Legal 48 Comments So, Apple has to pay boatloads of money to some patent troll over cover flow and Time Machine-related patents. Well, guess I’m boned. About The Author Thom Holwerda Follow me on Twitter @thomholwerda 48 Comments 2010-10-04 10:12 pm philipsw Where’s the righteous indignation in the reporting in this story which is generally reserved for patent trolls? 2010-10-04 10:48 pm tuzor Where’s the righteous indignation in the reporting in this story which is generally reserved for patent trolls? Doesn’t apply to apple. There’s a party at Thom’s house tonight. 2010-10-04 10:58 pm Thom Holwerda Sure, ridiculing the patents in question as directly as I do in this item is anti-Apple. Makes total sense. It’s never okay with you guys, is it? Also, I’m out of Martini, so how ON EARTH am I supposed to throw a party? You’ve never been to a party, have you? 2010-10-04 11:11 pm philipsw I think you wanted to reply to me on this. I’m really the one questioning the journalistic integrity here. It seems, to me at least, that most of the patent lawsuit reporting on this site and, in particular, your editorials focus on large corporations bringing suits against smaller corporations/individuals. Most of these articles vilify the bringer of the suit and ultimately result in the question being posed “Why is the US justice system so backwards?” So my, admittedly cynical, question should have been “Why no editorial about how harmful US IP laws are in this case?” Obviously it’s not that repeating the point is pointless, since it’s been argued in editorial postings here countless times. Understand, I’m not suggesting that US patent laws are perfect, I’m just curious about the inconsistency. Thanks. 2010-10-04 11:15 pm Thom Holwerda What inconsistency? I’m against software patents, whether wielded by large or by small companies. You’re not paying attention, I’ve reported on both variants in the way you described. Use the search field (I’m on a mobile phone atm.). 2010-10-04 11:18 pm TechGeek Maybe its because Apple likes wielding its software patents like a hammer against competition. You reap what you sow and that sort of thing. I don’t like software patents in general, but its humorous that the companies using them against open source get taken down by patent trolls doing the same thing. 2010-10-04 11:20 pm WereCatf I don’t like software patents in general, but its humorous that the companies using them against open source get taken down by patent trolls doing the same thing. Ufortunately this doesn’t hurt Apple in the least, they’ll just squeeze the money right back from their customers. 2010-10-04 11:52 pm mrhasbean Maybe its because Apple likes wielding its software patents like a hammer against competition. You reap what you sow and that sort of thing. I don’t like software patents in general, but its humorous that the companies using them against open source get taken down by patent trolls doing the same thing. Can you at least see though WHY they patent as much stuff as they do? If they’d patented these concepts right back in the Hypercard days those who cry foul whenever they patent something to the wahzoo would still have cried foul, but it wouldn’t now be costing them $200 mil… 2010-10-05 10:45 am brewmastre Or if the world had never allowed software patents in the first place, they wouldn’t being paying out right now and the court systems time would not be continuously wasted like it is. Having an idea and creating something amazing from it is great but to thing that you’re the only one who should be able to reap the benefits of that idea is arrogant and selfish. I’m sorry, but I have to side with Thom on this guys. 2010-10-05 11:13 am viton Can you at least see though WHY they patent as much stuff as they do? How much? For example IBM issued 4914 patents in 2009 while Apple did only 400. 2010-10-05 12:24 pm Morty How much? For example IBM issued 4914 patents in 2009 while Apple did only 400. Those do not even varant comparison, since IBM actually does huge amounts of research as opposed to Apple who mainly does marketing and product developent. Or as IBM puts it: “No matter where discovery takes place, IBM Researchers push the boundaries of science, technology and business to make the world work better. Our global network of scientists work on a range of applied and exploratory research projects to help clients, governments and universities apply scientific breakthroughs to solve real-world business and societal challenges.” Take a look at and think about http://www.research.ibm.com/, then look at what Apple does. I’d say that even a number slightly less than 1/10 of IBM is way too high. 2010-10-05 12:46 pm spiderman IBM = 400 000 people. Apple = 20 000 people. You are comparing Orange and Apple. IBM invented the hard drive, the database and such things that are actually inventions. Apple patented thin air. 2010-10-05 4:40 pm organgtool First of all, IBM develops a LOT of technology outside of the software sector. How many of those 4,914 patents cover only software? Also, software patents are like weapon caches – it’s not how many weapons you have but how many times you fire them. IBM uses its patent portfolio to defend itself from attacks by other companies. IBM rarely uses their software patents in an aggressive manner. This can be verified with a simple Google search. On the other hand, Apple uses its software patents aggressively against other companies it deems as a threat. It was no coincidence that they sued HTC over software patents in the Android interface as soon as the Droid Incredible and HTC Evo began receiving huge mainstream interest. In other words, holding software patents isn’t evil – it’s using them aggressively to prevent others from creating their own implementations that is evil. 2010-10-05 5:01 am UltraZelda64 Maybe its because Apple likes wielding its software patents like a hammer against competition. A hammer? More like an axe, sword or mace/flail. It’s not very often you see someone in a battle using a hammer… and if they did, I would hope they didn’t intend for it to offer them very good protection. On the other hand, Hammer Smashed Face is a good song though… [by death metal band Cannibal Corpse] Sorry, I just had to throw that out there. Edited 2010-10-05 05:07 UTC 2010-10-05 7:45 am Neolander Well, what’s the problem ? A hammer is just like a software patent : not something to defend yourself, but rather something to smash innocent opponents by attacking first About fighting with a hammer, I watched Conan the Barbarian yesterday… Yeah, it can work, as long as it’s sufficiently big =p 2010-10-05 8:43 am bitwelder Plus, with a hammer you can pretend you’re working to build something good 2010-10-05 11:47 am dnebdal Nothing wrong with battle hammers. When striking hard plate armor, edged weapons often glance off, while hammers can get most of the force of the blow onto the target. Consider http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_hammer 2010-10-04 11:18 pm WereCatf I’m just curious about the inconsistency. I don’t understand what inconsistency you see. Thom Holwerda has been against software patents for god knows how long, it doesn’t matter who the parties in question are. 2010-10-04 11:25 pm philipsw Okay, I’ll concede that point. However, I was commenting more on the reporting of the news. I’ve become a bit more accustomed to write-ups in these types of articles generally being a bit snarky toward the bringer of the suit. I was merely curious about the lack of said snarky-ness in this case. Thanks. 2010-10-04 11:33 pm Thom Holwerda I’d say this photo is about as snarky as it can get… The photo illustrates the utter stupidity of the patents in question. 2010-10-05 3:14 am Moredhas To apply my amazing literary critique skills to this, I think the artist tried to convey a “business as usual” air, and a level of boredom with the brevity of his poem. 2010-10-05 2:56 pm crazed-glue Wow. I don’t think Thom could’ve possibly been any snarkier. l2mockery. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” 2010-10-04 11:20 pm acobar I am. I have to say that Apple produces fine hardware+software usually and that, overall, I like its products, even though the last time I bought something from them was long ago. It is just that they become too control freak for my taste and that I find myself to prefer other hardware producers. I am also of the opinion that patents are not the best fit for software, at least on its current form. That companies are able to use them for trivial ideas are, indeed, awkward. Anyway, I suspect that big companies still prefer it, even if they may have to pay some trolls from time to time. And so be it. 2010-10-05 9:25 am Laurence Where’s the righteous indignation in the reporting in this story which is generally reserved for patent trolls? They say a picture speaks a thousand words and I thought this picture spoke Thom’s stance just as eloquently as his traditional rants. 2010-10-06 5:01 am vivainio Where’s the righteous indignation in the reporting in this story which is generally reserved for patent trolls? Uh, isn’t this exactly the kind of patent Apple is using to attack other phone manufacturers as we speak? 2010-10-04 10:47 pm NxStY “The document streams outlined in the patents would contain many different types of documents with a similar theme, and would be organized in chronological order and displayed in a pile.” Is this really an invention? 2010-10-04 11:00 pm No it isnt Looks like I might be infringing on that one. Inadvertently, of course. Edited 2010-10-04 23:00 UTC 2010-10-05 12:05 am Morgan Apparently so. Due to the stack of unpaid bills on one end of my desk and the pile of paid bills on the other end, and the stream of money flowing from my bank account to my creditors, I must be in violation of these patents as well. Looks like I owe the trolls some money! Wait, I already spent it on the aforementioned bills. Oh well. Edited 2010-10-05 00:06 UTC 2010-10-04 11:00 pm JPowers27 The patent is on an In-Box (like you have on your desk) where all new documents are placed on the bottom of the stack and you can see top document and part of several documents under it. Please note that the documents are always sorted by time… iTunes sorts by: Album Title, Artist, Song Title (never by added date). Time Machine: sorts directory snap-shots by time. It doesn’t present documents in a stack. Isn’t this patent a algorithm and describes an abstract process? If it is, then it shouldn’t be patentable. 2010-10-05 1:22 am tyrione The patent is on an In-Box (like you have on your desk) where all new documents are placed on the bottom of the stack and you can see top document and part of several documents under it. Please note that the documents are always sorted by time… iTunes sorts by: Album Title, Artist, Song Title (never by added date). Time Machine: sorts directory snap-shots by time. It doesn’t present documents in a stack. Isn’t this patent a algorithm and describes an abstract process? If it is, then it shouldn’t be patentable. Hence, Apple is appealing the ruling on all 3 counts. 2010-10-05 10:12 am Tony Swash iTunes sorts by: Album Title, Artist, Song Title (never by added date). Actually iTunes can do that and I use it all the time such as when I import a bunch of mp3 files and want to enter corrected metadata, so if the artist or album name is screwed up I just sort to show by date imported where I can see the files at the top that need the editing. 2010-10-05 1:59 am StephenBeDoper You almost owed me a new keyboard, Thom – from now on, I’ll have to remember to swallow my coffee/beer before clicking “Read More”. 2010-10-05 2:31 am nt_jerkface Where do they come up with settlement amounts? A lotto ball machine? There should be a cap unless you can show that the product’s sales depended on your patent. I have seen some good examples of software patents that deserve protection like compression schemes and molecular analysis algorithms that take years to develop….but an album organizer? Of course the settlement wouldn’t have been over a million if Apple didn’t have gobs of cash in the bank. This is like a lot of liability suits against large corps where a high amount is chosen simply because the corp can easily afford it. That doesn’t make the judgement right however. It has been stated elsewhere that companies will patent troll in this part of Texas since it is an easy area to play on corporate resentment. Edited 2010-10-05 02:36 UTC 2010-10-05 2:35 am metalf8801 I don’t like Apple but I dislike Paten trolls even more. So I think this defiantly a bad thing even throw it happened to Apple. However, maybe now the powers that be over at Apple (aka Steve) will have more of an anti patent attitude. 2010-10-05 2:43 am nt_jerkface If anything Apple will push to make it harder for smaller companies and individuals to file patents and win awards. They view themselves as highly innovative even if their top selling products are based on existing tech. Just look at the HTC suit, they clearly support the worst aspects of the system. Jobs just doesn’t want the worst of the system directed at them. 2010-10-05 3:05 am leech Exactly. Apple does deserve this. Apple is like the jerk at the party who walks around and slaps everyone upside the head, but when someone finally slaps back, they cry like a little girl. It’s kind of like when playing Dungeons and Dragons, and the awesome fighter is just chopping through orc after orc and then a troll smacks him around and then eats his flesh. The fighter is going to start whining that it wasn’t fair that he got his butt kicked so hard. Ah, geekness! Was thinking Patent Troll… figured it fit 2010-10-05 3:56 am bnolsen I had a discussion with our company legal counsel at work today about the software patents. Interstingly enough he’s pretty much all for getting rid of patents in general. Part of that discussion was about Edison, the light bulb and electric generation/transmission where the patent system was also pretty heavily abused (not to mention edison was a jerk). 2010-10-05 8:46 am Soulbender When a patent troll wins everyone loses. 2010-10-05 9:16 am lost Software patent : Software = Church : Science 2010-10-05 2:58 pm crazed-glue Holy Roman Empire : Zollverein :: George Foreman : Manny Pacquiao 2010-10-05 9:37 am OSGuy Let this be a lesson for Apple (as if it changes things). Apple gets to taste its own medicine. I am not sure if I should be happy about this or sad. How do you choose between two evils? You can’t…. Patents are designed to prevent competition and innovation. Patents are all about making money and stopping other people competing with you. Apple/HTC, Nokia/Apple, Oracle/Google, Microsoft/Motorola are prime examples of this. As far as I know, many of the patents are just ideas. I don’t understand how can you copyright an idea. Ideas cannot be copyrighted and that’s what patents are, ideas, methods….(many but not all, for example, Oracle/Google/Java is not just an idea, Microsoft ActiveSync is not just an idea). Common sense and logic should not be patentable. Edited 2010-10-05 09:45 UTC 2010-10-05 10:57 am vodoomoth Common sense and logic should not be patentable. I’ll go against this and quote a previous poster who said he understood compression schemes being patented: I have seen some good examples of software patents that deserve protection like compression schemes and molecular analysis algorithms that take years to develop OK, but how do we determine what “deserves protection” and hence, is entitled to a patent? The distinction is sometimes easy and sometimes, it’s not that obvious. The run-length encoding is so easy to understand that a 4-year old can grab it. The Huffman algorithm is based on distributing storage space units based on frequencies so as to minimize the total space. The dictionary in LZW is less easy to understand but it isn’t that exceptional once you get the gist of it. All of these are just that, “logic”. But someone came up with each of these first. What’s the “reward” for that? Their name in the book of prime ideas? All of three algorithms I mentioned are aiming at reducing the space needed to store some information. Now is LZW an idea or a method? I don’t know. But if it’s not “patent-able”, what do we consider an addition considerable enough to make it worth a patent? Anyway, I’m against getting rid of patents altogether, whether software-related or not. Has anyone published an article dealing with the hypothetical consequences of getting rid of patents? That would be a nice read. 2010-10-05 12:37 pm leech As far as I can tell, the Oracle/Google battle isn’t about patents or even copyright, it’s about splitting up Java. I know Google is everyone’s hero for Android, but I’d actually agree with Oracle on this one, they took Java and made it proprietary to Android. Big no-no for something that is supposed to be able to be ran on anything with a jvm. Then again, Sun shouldn’t have done that with J2ME, but then I guess since they were the makers of it… But you’d think Android would then have to be compatible with J2ME stuff. Sorry for the bit off topic post. 2010-10-05 10:44 am Daemon_ZOGG One patent troll beating up another patent troll. Hate to be down-wind of that one. I wouldn’t want to be overcome by the stench of arrogance and greed. ;p 2010-10-05 1:08 pm fran This patents, in two worlds about it. If I had some money turning patents I would sue if they’re infringed upon. But patent trolling thats another thing. Maybe the governments should make an use it or lose it law or at least reduce the patent period significantly. Also what makes me mad is when Universities make’s breakthrough (most indirectly funded by taxpayers) and then gets owned by companies. I think some of these patents should be open. But then again maybe its a important part of an Universities funding model also. 2010-10-05 3:14 pm SuperDaveOsbourne do what Microshaft used to do during its climb to the top of the crime tables… Just buy the company in question when it comes forward there is a theft of IP or code base. Apple is the next Micro$haft, the current Sony of electronic garbage and there is not a thing lawsuits like this or you and I will do which will change this future for Apple. Fanboys should get over losing the luster of a once underdog company. The choices are less now than ever, if you want individualism simply stop buying Apple overpriced marginalized hardware and get 1/3 priced generic and install customized LINUX distros for your needs. Good luck, is your time worth any money? 2010-10-05 4:02 pm WereCatf Microshaft Micro$haft Oh damn, you forgot to also use “Crapple…” 2010-10-08 12:25 am lucifer word of advice : get you fact right before jumping with your balls dangling freely and unprotected to any conclusion. do some background research before labeling any company a patent troll. its no wonder these days i take news article in osnews with a big scoop of salt. it really is that bad.