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A tiny Florida company claims Apple is violating its ownership of booting an operating system quickly.  (Source: Cult of Mac)

A flow chart from the patent in question shows a seemingly intuitive process to optimize booting Unix-like or Windows operating system.  (Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office)
Lawsuit seems equal measures a sad observation on the U.S. patent system and irony

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) is no stranger to the U.S. patent system.  After all, it's one of the biggest intellectual property holders in the U.S.  Faced with surging sales of Android-based smartphones, it's now resorted to suing the world's top three Android manufacturers [1][2][3][4][5] in a bid to forcibly remove them from the market.

However, Apple is receiving an awfully ironic taste of its own medicine.  A shadowy Floridian company entitled "Operating System Solutions LLC" (OSS LLC) has filed suit against Apple, alleging its OS X Mac computer operating system violates a patent which quite literally covers booting up fast.

According to the plaintiffs, Apple willfully infringed on the intellectual property holders' exclusive right to "boot up" quickly.

The patent, U.S. Patent 6,434,696 -- entitled "Method for quickly booting a computer system" -- describes:

A method for quickly booting a personal computer system using boot configuration information on memory and the attached devices that was created and saved in a hard disk at the preceding boot process. The method for a quick boot process includes the steps of performing a power-on self test POST) operation when a personal computer system is powered on or a reset button is pressed; performing a normal boot process after the POST operation; saving the contents of memory and the status of the attached devices to a hard disk; checking if a reboot is requested; restoring the saved boot configuration information from the hard disk, after POST is completed during the reboot process; checking whether or not an initial device configuration file and/or an automatic batch file were changed; and executing commands in the two files and saving a newly created boot configuration information to the hard disk for future boot. The personal computer system, may reboot quickly because of omission of execution of the initial device configuration filed and the automatic batch file.

OSS LLC writes [Scribd]:

9. Upon information and belief, without license or permission from OSS, Apple has infringed, actively induced others to infringe, and/or contributorily infringed, literally or under the doctrine of equivalents,one or more claims of the OSS Patent. Apple did so by importing, making, using, offering to sell, and/or selling products and devices that embody and./or practice the patented invention.
17. Upon information and belief Apple's actions were and have been willful and in direct disregard of Plaintiff's patent rights.

A quick search of the U.S. Patent database found no patents issued to OSS LLC.  It did show that the patent in question was originally assigned to LG Electronics, Inc. (SEO:066570) in 2002, after a completed filing in 1999.  The patent was transferred first to Microconnect LLC in 2004, then to ANPA Inc., and then finally to Protimus Technologies LLC, being reissued to Protimus in 2008.  It is unknown when the ownership changed hands to OSS LLC.

Of this plethora of companies, none had an apparent website, except for perhaps Microconnect LLC, which may be affiliated with a British IT services provider of the same name.

Some, such as Business Insider are suggesting LG may be somehow behind the attack.  Writes Florian Mueller (also of FOSS Patents):

There are two distinct possibilities. It's conceivable that LG determined that this patent was not central to its business and divested it. Big companies make divestments of this kind all the time. But with the smartphone patent wars going on, companies usually look to buy -- not sell -- patents. The other -- potentially more meaningful -- alternative is that this previously-unheard-of Florida-based plaintiff could be a proxy steered by LG. In that case, this would be either a warning shot or the beginning of a wider conflict between Apple and LG, which the latter may deem inevitable.

However, the multiple patent holders makes this less likely.  Companies like LG are typically less shy about their patent holdings and are less likely to use shell companies to do their litigious bidding.  More likely the patent belongs to a "patent troll" like Intellectual Property Ventures or NTP, Inc.

It's possible that the true parent company may never be known.  These kinds of disputes are often settled out of court, as it's less expensive to settle than to challenge the patent in a protracted court dispute.

The case does raise broader questions -- for example, why does a company that does not produce computer operating systems get to hold a sweeping patent on any operating system that follows an intuitive scheme to boot faster?  

For Apple, though, that spells irony, as the company has been the recipient of many questionably generic patent awards, such as the patent on multitouch. But in Apple's defense, at least it actually builds the things it patents, even if the patents themselves may be questionable.

The new case was filed last Friday in Florida Middle District Court and is presided by Judge James S. Moody, Jr.

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By Argon18 on 8/8/2011 2:47:02 PM , Rating: 5
aaaaanndd this is why our patent system is completely broken.

RE: yeah
By cjohnson2136 on 8/8/2011 2:52:57 PM , Rating: 5
agreed but it is funny to see Apple get a test of its own medicine

RE: yeah
By Argon18 on 8/8/2011 2:56:35 PM , Rating: 5
agreed. although in the end, the only real winners are the lawyers, and the only real losers are the consumers. :(

RE: yeah
By LBID on 8/8/2011 3:34:20 PM , Rating: 5
Haven't you noticed? The lawyers always win. No matter what.

RE: yeah
By fic2 on 8/8/2011 5:31:08 PM , Rating: 5
That is what happens when the players (lawyers) get to write the rule book (lawyers/congress).

RE: yeah
By Misty Dingos on 8/9/2011 8:47:06 AM , Rating: 5
The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
"Henry VI" W. Shakespeare

Disclaimer: This statement in not meant to be a threat to any individual or to any group. Nor is it intended to foment violent acts by others. The writer of this post is not to be held liable for the acts of others that may read this post. This is sarcasm and thus protected speech under the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

RE: yeah
By Dr of crap on 8/9/2011 8:49:35 AM , Rating: 5

RE: yeah
By TSS on 8/9/2011 4:13:12 PM , Rating: 5
I'm sorry but you violated my patent on "witty or humerous replies included but not limited to cyberspace via means of anekdotal communication".

My lawyers inform me you owe me 10 bucks.

RE: yeah
By OCNewbie on 8/9/2011 4:53:06 PM , Rating: 4
Well... someone had to derail the +5 train. Nice of you to set up.

RE: yeah
By OCNewbie on 8/9/2011 4:54:00 PM , Rating: 4
-set +step

RE: yeah
By BZDTemp on 8/8/2011 7:09:48 PM , Rating: 2
I want them to get so much medicine they drown.

Apple has turned out to every bit as evil as Microsoft and for the sake of the greater good they need to go down.

RE: yeah
By MechanicalTechie on 8/8/2011 8:00:30 PM , Rating: 3
I totally agree.. i refuse to buy an Apple products and persuade all that i know to do the same... and you know what... once they find out how Apple kills innovation and their business practises they agree too

RE: yeah
By gorehound on 8/9/2011 9:37:11 AM , Rating: 2
i agree.i am not going near anything Apple.They are the evil 1984 thing now like their old posters.

RE: yeah
By inperfectdarkness on 8/9/2011 6:25:14 AM , Rating: 2
if anyone should sue apple, purely on principle, it's LG. Prada > Iphone. there, i said it.

RE: yeah
By Sazabi19 on 8/8/2011 2:56:56 PM , Rating: 3
Everyone get ready for era of the Great Patent/IP Wars of 201x

RE: yeah
By xaders on 8/8/2011 3:09:12 PM , Rating: 2
agree, "what a joke!" on this stupid "software" patent suit. the software patent system is broken.

RE: yeah
By millerm277 on 8/8/2011 3:20:53 PM , Rating: 4
The worse it gets, the more likely something will have to be done. At the moment, nearly every player in the mobile industry has multiple lawsuits against other companies going, while defending itself against multiple lawsuits.

Personally, I just say that we should throw out software patents entirely.

RE: yeah
By cjohnson2136 on 8/8/2011 3:25:09 PM , Rating: 2
Personally, I just say that we should throw out software patents entirely.

here here

RE: yeah
By oldscotch on 8/9/2011 8:02:12 AM , Rating: 2
And oddly enough, the USPTO said the same thing. A couple of key Supreme Court rulings created the mess that we have now and it's up to them to undo what they did.

RE: yeah
By Stuka on 8/8/2011 3:08:10 PM , Rating: 2
Yup. They might as well have Anthony Sullivan sell patent stamps for them.

RE: yeah
By AmbroseAthan on 8/8/2011 3:36:45 PM , Rating: 5
Adjusted slightly...
"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy defines IP/Patent Trolls & Lawyers as "a bunch of mindless jerks who'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes," with a footnote to the effect that the editors would welcome applications from anyone interested in taking over the post of patent officer.

Curiously enough, an edition of the Encyclopaedia Galactica that had the good fortune to fall through a time warp from a thousand years in the future defined the IP/Patent Trolls & Lawyers as "a bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the revolution came."
~Douglas Adams (kinda)

RE: yeah
By RivuxGamma on 8/8/2011 5:22:32 PM , Rating: 3
I'm gonna patent this totally new process, OK? It involves a beginning, which is where something starts, and an ending, which is where something ends. The process may be modified so that there is no ending and thus keeps going forever. It may also be modified so that there is no beginning or ending indicating the discovery of something that has no discernable beginning or end.

Anything found to be violating this patent will be forced to undergo Navy SEAL training every day for the rest of their lives and also have to give me all their money and assets.

RE: yeah
By wifiwolf on 8/8/2011 6:49:19 PM , Rating: 3
True but it seems much more specific than Apple's usual patents. It even describes technologies behind it. Seems a valid one although we've been seeing it for a long time.

RE: yeah
By Phoque on 8/8/2011 6:53:17 PM , Rating: 3
US Patent office ought to have becomed one of the most pathetic man made creation ever. God I laughed when I read that news. Absolutely incredible. Bounds and leaps beyond anything I have seen from Apple.

In the country of the American dream. LOL!

Prior Art
By Reflex on 8/8/2011 5:57:29 PM , Rating: 5
I am very curious as to when in 1999 this was filed. I worked as a kernel engineer on Windows Neptune, a never-released version targetted at being "Consumer Windows 2000" that was mothballed and replaced by Windows XP. We used pretty much this exact methodology to have boot times of around 10s from power on(we also combined it with a quickboot BIOS extension). Later versions of Windows have used portions of this to speed up boot, so by my reckoning Win7 at the least should infringe on this.

I am curious when it was filed, as I could show old Neptune builds from around August of 99 that used this technology. It certainly was in the planning stages months if not a year before that.

BTW, I disagree that this is an 'obvious' patent. In 1999 it was revolutionary, its only obvious after a decade of hindsight. I'm only suprised Microsoft didn't file the patent first.

RE: Prior Art
By Strunf on 8/9/2011 5:16:14 AM , Rating: 2
I would say it was obvious even in 1999, its a fact that with every new generation of OS, hardware or whatever we try to improve boot up time, cause that's just waste of time. Hibernation could be seen as a way to improve boot time and it dates from Win 95.

RE: Prior Art
By Reflex on 8/9/2011 1:47:31 PM , Rating: 3
I do not agree that it was obvious in 1999, and we had several concerns regarding its feasibility at that point(the bugs generated were...interesting). Every invention that ends up being very useful appears obvious in hindsight.

I do not preclude the possibility that others had considered this before we did, however, it would not suprise me if they had. That does not mean it was an obvious advancement however, only that another team was given a similiar problem and came up with a similiar solution.

RE: Prior Art
By lyeoh on 8/9/2011 10:04:38 AM , Rating: 3
It's not obvious the same way that "unzipping to pee" is not obvious before someone invents the zipper. But once the zipper is invented, it's pretty obvious right?

There are way too many crap or obvious inventions. Just get rid of patents and we'll do better as a whole. As for "throwing out the baby with the bathwater" remarks, the baby is long dead, blood sucked dry by the patent trolls, especially the ones who hoard patents but produce NOTHING and so infringe on zero patents. That's why they can't get countersued or convinced to cross-license by those with massive patent portfolios e.g. IBM.

A system that most rewards those who produce NOTHING but stupid obvious patents is completely broken, and should be discarded.

RE: Prior Art
By GatoRat on 8/9/2011 11:30:58 AM , Rating: 2
It's obvious because my coworkers and I came up with this idea in 1988.

Patents should protect individuals not corporations
By Skelum on 8/8/2011 3:26:42 PM , Rating: 3
The patent office needs to reconsider their mission... They should focus in protecting individual inventions against giants but not corporations vs corporations...

Big corporations should compete on their ability to execute and deliver quality products not on suing each other on patent infringements.

My two cents!

By Sazabi19 on 8/8/2011 4:17:56 PM , Rating: 3
That's why so many more people are mad at Apple.

By foolsgambit11 on 8/9/2011 4:06:45 AM , Rating: 2
Sounds great, but it's pretty impracticable as a law. It's the same reason that "too big to fail" is such a problem - who decides where to draw the line? Another analogy would be the Supreme Court ruling that everybody knows pornography when they see it. It relies too much on the judgment of minor officials to enforce these regulations. In the world of patent law, where do the giants end and the little guys begin? The system risks becoming too arbitrary, with conflicting rulings being handed down by different patent clerks. It's much easier and more just to have a system that treats all applicants equally. Incidentally, this is probably why the patent office frequently grants 'obvious' patents - it's tough for patent officers to rule on these qualitative constraints. Government, or at least the U.S. Government, is inherently bad at qualitative evaluations.

That's why a better solution would be to change the quantitative aspects of patents - the easiest fix would be patent term restrictions. A patent issued on a software innovation shouldn't still be valid 12 years after it was issued. That only stifles development, and the purpose of the American patent system is "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts". 5 years seems reasonable to me (although, of course, how long a patent should last is a qualitative judgment, but it would be made by our elected representatives in Congress, and would then be easily enforceable by minor officials without the need for qualitative judgments on their part).

By Jaybus on 8/9/2011 7:56:39 AM , Rating: 2
Of course they are bad at qualitative evaluations. Anyone capable of adequately evaluating the quality of a patent would not be working at the PTO for peanuts when they can earn far more at Apple, or just about anywhere else. The patent system thus degrades to one of litigation.

The patent is being used as only the tool to get placement on the court's docket. It is not worth the paper it is written on until it is tested in court. A judge is not necessarily, of course, any better at evaluating the technical merit of a patent, but presumably both parties will bring in expert witnesses who are. While this may indeed work, however inefficiently, to settle disputes between large corporations, it is hardly fair to the individual or small company who cannot afford the necessary legal representation. Patent trolls exist because the patent system treats individuals and small companies as second class citizens.

By lyeoh on 8/9/2011 9:49:02 AM , Rating: 2
To me what we should do is to award Prizes for Innovation instead, much like Nobel Prizes. Most people's hindsight is better than their foresight.

To qualify for the prize, inventors have to register their inventions and pay a registration fee that goes to the prize pool.

You could have one category of prize being awarded by "Experts in the Field", and another category awarded by members of the public (somewhat similar to the Hugo and Nebula prizes, except maybe we could allow a wider participation for members of the public?). Multiple prizes per category would be awarded. Prizes could be awarded every year.

Inventors could win a prize for something they did years or even decades ago.

So even if you are 30 years ahead of everyone and/or your stuff only gets declassified decades later, you can still win a prize.

In contrast patents don't reward the inventors who are really far ahead of their time. They instead reward people who somehow manage to sneak "Method of making omelettes by using contents of eggs while excluding shells and detritus" and "one-click" past overworked patent examiners deluged by similar garbage.

Also, punitive actions could be taken against people who falsely claim they were the first to invent something - at least based on the patent registration database.

What the "Patent Office people" would then do is: try to reduce dupes (you can't prevent dupes 100% but at least reduce them), organize and manage the data so that it is not too hard for people to find candidates for nomination - for instance you don't want to have people keep nominating an invention that has already won! That said an invention that has already won, could qualify for a "top winners amongst winners category".

The patent office workers could also help authoritatively link registered inventions with actual products out in the market.

By Murloc on 8/8/2011 2:59:22 PM , Rating: 2
how can you patent a flowchart?

RE: flowchart?
By cjohnson2136 on 8/8/2011 3:27:43 PM , Rating: 2
the flowchart is probably a part of the patent. It is not the whole patent in itself.

RE: flowchart?
By Argon18 on 8/8/2011 3:56:14 PM , Rating: 2
because the people at the uspto who approve these things are either drunk or asleep. you could hand them a square of used toilet paper and they'll stamp "approved" on it.

quarterdeck quickboot
By johnsonx on 8/9/2011 12:06:08 AM , Rating: 2
Quarterdeck QEMM386 had feature called QuickBoot. It didn't do anything on a cold boot, but on a warm boot it would boot almost instantly. This goes back to the early 90's at least, if not earlier.

RE: quarterdeck quickboot
By Yeah on 8/9/2011 1:50:26 PM , Rating: 2
QEMM was SO FAR ahead of its time. I remember when my budy and I setup a BBS system (spitfire) we used QEMM to run two copies of it for testing. Before Windows was was even available. I called him up one day because the BBS server was running way slow come to find out he had 32 copies of spitfire running because he never exited the program he just kept shelling out. What was even more fun was editing iosys and msdossys and change the name of to something else and bury it someplace so the gerbils couldnt frack your command com. I know.. useless post.. couldn't helpt it

It will be tossed out.
By vision33r on 8/8/2011 4:58:39 PM , Rating: 1
This one will be tossed out, just another pre-emptive strike.

If you look through the patent, it is evident that it points to an early DOS like OS and OSX does not boot like DOS.

Autoexec.bat? config.sys?

They should be suing Microsoft not Apple. They stand a better chance to sue Windows than OSX.

RE: It will be tossed out.
By kitonne on 8/8/2011 5:14:04 PM , Rating: 2
DOS = Disk Operating System

Pretty much all operating systems which are loaded from a disk (as opposed to punched paper tape or 80 column paper cards) are D.O.S. :) The version you are talking about was MS-DOS or IBM-DOS...

The patent sounds more like save to disk of some sort, which was there before, in the mainframe world. See Honeywell-Bull, IBM, Varian mainframes, or various DEC / HP minis, 1975-1980 time frame. At boot time, you could do a cold boot, or load the last saved system image.

Autoexec.bat / Config.sys are listed in the patent as an implementation example for the idea, and they specifically say that it is NOT the only way of doing it, so OS/X may be indeed, a legitimate target, if nobody bothers to talk to old data center operators....

By voodoochile123 on 8/8/2011 10:03:07 PM , Rating: 1
I hold a patent on typing quickly. Most of you owe me some SERIOUS money.

RE: yea
By rbuszka on 8/9/2011 1:40:52 PM , Rating: 2

That's $80,000 per infringing character occurring in less than 1/10 of a second after the previous one. Why such a steep fine? because the offending characters could be read by millions of people. On the interwebz, who's to say?

wtf ?
By GotDiesel on 8/9/2011 1:04:20 PM , Rating: 3
jeez.. and you wonder why the American economy is f*cked up..

if you Americans spent less time suing each other and more time addressing real problems the country might be in better shape..
wow talk about FAIL...

By lagomorpha on 8/9/2011 6:24:51 PM , Rating: 3
All Apple products that "boot fast" should be banned from sale until the lawsuit can be concluded.

By seraphim1982 on 8/8/2011 4:39:22 PM , Rating: 2
This is why China is "Winning" a broken Patent system. IMO, patents length should be much shorter... Nowaday, things can be easily reversed engineered, as well as the spread of information via the internet is information for the majority.

While everyone else bickers about this and that and lawyer fees and etc. China just hacks and steals it.... much easier and cheaper as well, and that's why they are "winning"

My 2 cents

Not filed in Texas
By HrilL on 8/9/2011 1:46:56 PM , Rating: 2
Most of the big patent trolls all file cases in Texas because they get more wins. This could be an LG proxy like it was suggested.

By BSquared on 8/9/2011 6:40:31 PM , Rating: 2
Does this mean hibernation could be targeted technology? I mean, hibernation saves the boot info to disk and then shuts down, using that saved info for fast reboot/resume. Does this mean they can effectively sue any manufacturer that uses ACPI?

Where's RAMBUS?
By Divide Overflow on 8/9/2011 11:42:44 PM , Rating: 2
The word memory was used in this patent lawsuit.
It seems RAMBUS is a little slow in filing their own patent lawsuit.

This patent is bull$!#@
By zephyrprime on 8/11/2011 12:00:09 PM , Rating: 2
The patent itself is valid and original enough. However, the patent was filed in 1999. Windows 95 already had hibernation features back in 1995! And I'm sure some earlier operating systems had stuff like this too before windows. If this patent had been filed in the early nineties, it may be valid but not at the late date of 1999. By 1998, acpi was already in existance and supported by windows 98.

I hope Jobs...
By overlandpark4me on 8/11/2011 10:15:36 PM , Rating: 2
likes that salty taste in his mouth. While this suit appears silly on the surface, it isn't any worse than what Apple has done in the past. Grab your ankles Stevie.

in this instance
By tastyratz on 8/8/11, Rating: -1
RE: in this instance
By Flunk on 8/8/2011 3:59:02 PM , Rating: 5
The reason this patent is not valid is that the process in question is blatantly obvious and has been used for many years before this patent was granted.

RE: in this instance
By Performance Fanboi on 8/8/2011 7:03:17 PM , Rating: 2
Sadly, something being blatantly obvious doesn't preclude getting a patent in the U.S.. The Patent office staff seem to just approve everything without looking so they can go back to watching porn and waiting for payday.

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