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Phonemaker plays both a bully and a victim amid countless lawsuits

If some tech readers tire of constantly seeing Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) name in the news regarding patent lawsuits, understand that those stories are hardly coincidence or the product of a newsperson's overactive imagination.  Apple simply is in a swirling, whirling, ever-growing maelstrom of lawsuits, some filed by it and others filed against it.

I. Some of Them Want to Abuse You...

According to consulting firm Kanzatec IP Group, 60 percent of active lawsuits in the mobile industry involve Apple.

These lawsuits generally fall into two categories.  The first category is suits filed against Apple by smaller intellectual property holders, such as Elan Microelectronics Inc. (TPE:2458) who successfully sued Apple for "stealing" its multi-touch technology.

As the world's most profitable company Apple is a juicy target for small IP holders.  And Apple's large all-inclusive hardware-software-sales ecosystem offers many levels to hunt for infringements.  
Apple patent lawsuit
A graphic by Kanzatec depicting who is suing who. [Image Source: Kanzatec]

Feisal Mosleh, a senior vice president at Kanzatec, comments, "I would speculate that Apple will continue to be at the center of the litigation map of large mobile IT companies for as long as it maintains its dominant place in the market"

II. ...Some of Them Want to be Abused

On the other hand, Apple has also been a student of these firms and take a page from their playbook, initiating suits with rivals.  When Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android moved into the passing lane, late Apple CEO Steve Jobs' feelings on the OS changed from it being a tolerable nuisance to being an intolerable "thief".

Despite his firm borrowing multiple innovations from Android -- true multi-tasking, notifications, copy and paste, etc. (innovations that were present in Windows Mobile, of course, long before that even). -- Mr. Jobs claimed that Android phonemakers were "stealing" his company's intellectual property.

Apple initiated a suit against top rival Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) in April 2011, after first suing smaller Android phonemaker HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) in March 2010.  Both companies have filed countersuits against Apple in several regions, claiming Apple stole their intellectual property.

Apple has also looked to bully now bankrupt Eastman Kodak Corp., the company that invented the digital camera.  Apple tried to stop a sale of the bankrupt firm's intellectual property.

Steve Jobs
Steven P. Jobs' dying wish of "thermonuclear war" with Android has been fulfilled.

Google has fought back against Apple, initiating a preemptive strike with subsidiary Motorola Mobility in Oct. 2010.  That barrage was countered by Apple, which sued Motorola the same month.  Those lawsuits appear to be dead in the U.S., following a landmark ruling by a veteran Chicago-area federal judge.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple also has been battered by lawsuits from Nokia Oyj. (HEX:NOK1V).  The veteran Finnish phonemaker successfully forced Apple into one licensing settlement and is actively pursuing a new infringement lawsuit.

Source: Bloomberg



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RE: Inexcusible
By Florinator on 7/11/2012 3:00:59 PM , Rating: 3
And on the other hand you have an overwhelmed and incompetent Patent Office, which issues patents on absurd things such as the right to manufacture a thin rectangular tablet with one button or flipping your finger across a device...


RE: Inexcusible
By JasonMick (blog) on 7/11/2012 3:20:39 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
And on the other hand you have an overwhelmed and incompetent Patent Office, which issues patents on absurd things such as the right to manufacture a thin rectangular tablet with one button or flipping your finger across a device...
Actually Apple's D'889 patent has no buttons. So Apple is claiming complete design ownership of a tablet with any size bezel, any thickness, any small number of buttons, any size screen -- the only qualifier for infringement is a rectangular face with rounded edges.

That's right, Apple is patenting a shape .

Apple apologists will surely cook up clever defenses of how that's not really what Apple is doing, but if you rationally look at their lawyers words and arguments, that is precisely what they're claiming a patent on -- a shape.

In the D'889 case it's not so much incompetence by the USPTO -- as they may have assumed that the patent would be narrowly enforced for devices that looked EXACTLY like the patented design (thick, bulky, no buttons, only one headphone jack, no USB/HDMI -- hence nothing like the iPad or Tab).

The issue was that a federal court (Northern Calif.) ruled the patent was likely invalid. The madness could have ended there, but sadly Judge Koh's rationality was overriden by a higher court.

An incompetent or possibly corrupt panel of judges at the Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit argued the patent was not only valid but could be broadly enforced, essentially allowing Apple to patent a shape.

The Appeals Court is to blame for this mess, in that its ruling essentially approves of Apple patenting shapes and suing people who use that shape.

But you are of course correct -- other patents like Swipe-to-unlock should never have been granted by incompetent inspectors at the USPTO who ignored prior art and obviousness, yet face no repercussions for their lackluster performance.

Who's to blame -- the courts? Apple? USPTO? The answer is a combination of all three.


RE: Inexcusible
By mstrmac on 7/11/12, Rating: -1
RE: Inexcusible
By dark matter on 7/12/2012 2:22:59 AM , Rating: 1
What is "unreasonable" FRAND charge? And more to the point, why do you feel it's fine to simply take and use something ESSENTIAL to mobile phones and not pay anything because you don't agree with the price because you think it's not "fair", and at the same time sue you're competition for really petty and pathetic patents that are NON-ESSENTIAL, such a shape, number of buttons, etc.


RE: Inexcusible
By testerguy on 7/12/2012 6:06:37 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
What is "unreasonable" FRAND charge?


Trying to ban products over FRAND rate disputes, is what is 'unreasonable'. Obviously.

quote:
why do you feel it's fine to simply take and use something ESSENTIAL to mobile phones and not pay anything because you don't agree with the price because you think it's not "fair"


The question is not about taking something and not paying anything for it. Various rates have been offered and put forward by Apple. Motorola was attempting to force Apple to pay ABOVE FRAND RATES (in their own words) for the FRAND patents, and seeking to ban their products if Apple didn't pay. That is blatantly not 'Fair' or 'Reasonable' and the court was naturally thrown out as a result, with a likely FRAND abuse investigation to follow.

To educate you, a FRAND patent is a patent which a company has legally agreed to always offer EVERYONE at a fair and reasonable rate, in order to guarantee THEMSELVES license fees and widespread adoption. It's just as much a selfish act as a non-frand patent, and the only difference is with a FRAND patent you have obligations to license it fairly.

Contrast this to:

quote:
at the same time sue you're competition for really petty and pathetic patents that are NON-ESSENTIAL, such a shape, number of buttons, etc.


1 - Whether something is essential or not, is irrelevant. Whether something is FRAND or not is relevant. You can have FRAND or non-FRAND patents on both essential and non-essential things. A patent on something 'non-essential' is just as valid as any other patent.

2 - If you're saying that the patents Apple has are non-essential, then they can easily be worked around, and thus no ban should happen provided the competition is innovative enough. Being non-essential doesn't mean that you can therefore copy any patented technology you want.

3 - Apple didn't sign agreements confirming that it would license its patents on FRAND terms - so it has NO OBLIGATIONS whatsoever to license them to ANYONE, at ANY PRICE, and provided said patents are valid (which I wont provide any opinion on) - they have the right to ban any infringing products. That's how patents work - it's what they're for.

It's absolutely bizarre that you don't see that seeking to ban devices over FRAND patents is simply illegal, and logically or morally clearly far far worse than protecting your normal patents.


RE: Inexcusible
By ritualm on 7/12/2012 5:15:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Motorola was attempting to force Apple to pay ABOVE FRAND RATES (in their own words) for the FRAND patents, and seeking to ban their products if Apple didn't pay.

In direct retaliation of Apple attempting to have all Motorola smartphones under the sun banned for imitating basic design principles of iPhones.

If banning something with FRAND is ridiculous, what do you call Apple getting everyone else banned via design patents?

Pot, meet kettle.
quote:
If you're saying that the patents Apple has are non-essential, then they can easily be worked around, and thus no ban should happen provided the competition is innovative enough.

Epic logic fail.

Apple can simply move the goal posts and sue them for trying to be slightly different. Every Apple patent has lots of prior art. No matter, Apple thinks it invented everything, thus everything, down to very broad and widespread tech used daily by pre-historic humans, can only be created by Apple.

You create something and file a patent on it? Nope, Apple copies what you know, wraps it with fancy marketing and legalese, and sues YOU for violating their new patent - which, ironically, is a direct derivative of your own work.

What innovation? Apple takes the actual inventions of those from years prior, patents them, and uses them to sue everyone out of business. This is not competition, this is called antitrust.
quote:
It's absolutely bizarre that you don't see that seeking to ban devices over FRAND patents is simply illegal, and logically or morally clearly far far worse than protecting your normal patents.

Apple using obvious, overly-broad design patents to sue others is simply illegal. Argue away, tester-Swash, you will never win.


RE: Inexcusible
By testerguy on 7/13/2012 2:51:16 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
In direct retaliation of Apple attempting to have all Motorola smartphones under the sun banned for imitating basic design principles of iPhones.


It is quite simply outrageous that you think that a completely distinct and separate legal case can IN ANY SITUATION justify FRAND abuse. Here's a top tip for you - it DOESN'T.

quote:
If banning something with FRAND is ridiculous, what do you call Apple getting everyone else banned via design patents?


Once again, it is quite simply outrageous that despite my very clear, concise explanation above to this very question, that you still just don't get it. Design patents and FRAND patents are very different animals. FRAND patents by definition mean that the patent holder MUST license the patent BY LAW in a reasonable and FAIR WAY. Design patents, on the other hand, which are every bit as valid have NO SUCH OBLIGATIONS WHATSOEVER. Which is why, obviously, FRAND abuse is seen in a much, much dimmer light and why Motorola will be investigated for FRAND abuse.

quote:
Pot, meet kettle.


Ritualm, meet monkey.

quote:
quote: If you're saying that the patents Apple has are non-essential, then they can easily be worked around, and thus no ban should happen provided the competition is innovative enough. Epic logic fail.


I'm struggling to understand how anyone can be so stupid not to realise that it's easier to workaround non-essential patents. It's simply a logical fact. How can you possibly just not get that? I thought nobody could get dumber than CheeseW the Dailytech monkey.

quote:
Apple can simply move the goal posts and sue them for trying to be slightly different.


Um.... no? Do you know how patents work? The patent is the patent. Whatever you filed for, and had approved, is where the 'goalposts' are fixed. If anyone does something in a different way, it isn't covered by the patent.

quote:
Every Apple patent has lots of prior art.


While this sentence has no basis in fact whatsoever and is merely your irrelevant opinion, it also doesn't address a single claim I made. In my original comment to which you replied I specifically specified that only a valid patent would give Apple the right to sue. To remind you:

quote:
provided said patents are valid (which I wont provide any opinion on )


Please try to read more accurately next time.

quote:
Apple thinks it invented everything, thus everything, down to very broad and widespread tech used daily by pre-historic humans, can only be created by Apple.


Simply nonsense.

quote:
You create something and file a patent on it? Nope, Apple copies what you know, wraps it with fancy marketing and legalese, and sues YOU for violating their new patent - which, ironically, is a direct derivative of your own work.


If I've got a patent, I'm already protected so nobody can copy. Similarly, you can't successfully file for a patent if there is already an existing patent for the same thing. Thus, your example couldn't happen meaning you're talking crap. There is simply no real life case where what I just quoted from you happened. Thus you're arguing a nonsense.

What actually did happen is that Apple patented technology which hadn't been patented by anyone , after they developed it, and they proceeded to sue people who infringed upon that patent after it was filed.

quote:
Apple using obvious, overly-broad design patents to sue others is simply illegal. Argue away, tester-Swash, you will never win.


Your sentence is correct. Legally, you can't use obvious or overly-broad design patents. Both the patent office and the legal system know this. Thus, any successful patent or court case must by definition, NOT be illegal. Thus your sentence, while true, is completely irrelevant since it's not what is happening.


RE: Inexcusible
By ritualm on 7/13/2012 5:42:22 PM , Rating: 1
Keep it coming, kid.
quote:
It is quite simply outrageous that you think that a completely distinct and separate legal case can IN ANY SITUATION justify FRAND abuse. Here's a top tip for you - it DOESN'T.

So how do you justify Apple suing people left and right with design patents? Except you can't. You are already intoxicated by that cyanide-flavored Apple Kool-Aid to see the difference.
quote:
Once again, it is quite simply outrageous that despite my very clear, concise explanation above to this very question

Clear as mud.
quote:
that you still just don't get it

Pot, meet kettle.
quote:
Design patents, on the other hand, which are every bit as valid have NO SUCH OBLIGATIONS WHATSOEVER.

Bullshit. Design patents are so overly broad, they can be applied on anything and everything. Getting Galaxy Tabs banned just because it's a tablet... that looks like a tablet. Gee, why haven't we banned every television screen out there? They all use inch-thick bezels, exactly what is being used on the iPad!
quote:
I'm struggling to understand how anyone can be so stupid not to realise that it's easier to workaround non-essential patents.

What exactly are these workarounds? Do something different than Apple, thus ensuring they will fail commercially?
quote:
It's simply a logical fact.

Espoused by an Apple fanboy = It's simply a textbook of lies.
quote:
Um.... no? Do you know how patents work? The patent is the patent. Whatever you filed for, and had approved, is where the 'goalposts' are fixed. If anyone does something in a different way, it isn't covered by the patent.

Yes I do know how they work. You don't. Apple's patent filings are so vague and ambiguous, they leave a lot to interpretation. Hence the goal posts.
quote:
While this sentence has no basis in fact whatsoever and is merely your irrelevant opinion, it also doesn't address a single claim I made.

What valid patents? Design patents? Those are invalid. But keep arguing they are valid because you could not afford to lose arguments.
quote:
Simply nonsense.

Sony did a wedge design on some of their laptops but did not file a patent on it. They don't see a need for it. Apple made their Macbook Airs look like a wedge and wanted to patent that. What are they gonna do next? Of course, sue every manufacturer under the sun for violating the wedge design patent!

You cannot make something look like a wedge because it is patented by Apple.

You cannot make something with beveled edges because it is patented by Apple.

You cannot make something with rounded rectangles and inch-thick bezels because it is patented by Apple.

Of course you think these are perfectly valid patents because Tim Cook says "Do or else". Apple plays as a victim when it is actually a bully. Copy features directly out of Android and call them "invented by Apple", but Google doing the same and you sue them for piracy.
quote:
If I've got a patent, I'm already protected so nobody can copy. Similarly, you can't successfully file for a patent if there is already an existing patent for the same thing.

Wrong, as Apple has already proven otherwise with its COPYCAT patents.
quote:
What actually did happen is that Apple patented technology which hadn't been patented by anyone , after they developed it, and they proceeded to sue people who infringed upon that patent after it was filed.

What actually did happen is that Apple patented technology which had ALREADY been patented by someone else , and they proceeded to sue people who infringed upon that copycat patent after it was filed.
quote:
Thus, any successful patent or court case must by definition, NOT be illegal. Thus your sentence, while true, is completely irrelevant since it's not what is happening.

Admission of guilt - you have confessed that whatever Apple's been doing in court is illegal. Therefore, what I said is completely relevant since it's what is happening.
quote:
Ritualm, meet monkey.

tester-Swash, I am a monkey? Oh gee, thanks for the compliment!

A group of gun-toting Africans gave one of their AK-47's to a monkey in the camp. The monkey decided to go postal on them instead: it started firing indiscriminately. The Africans ran for their lives, and the monkey declared victory.

All of that was filmed on camera and uploaded to Youtube for sheer entertainment.

testerguy, meet William Milberry.


RE: Inexcusible
By testerguy on 7/15/2012 6:52:51 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
So how do you justify Apple suing people left and right with design patents? Except you can't. You are already intoxicated by that cyanide-flavored Apple Kool-Aid to see the difference.


How can you possibly be so retarded to not understand what a design patent is? A design patent prevents competitors illegally copying your work. Every company gets them and protects them.

If you have a valid design patent you are absolutely entitled to sue over it. Simple, obvious, logical.

With a FRAND patent, on the other hand, you are NOT entitled to seek bans over it.

Are you getting this yet?

quote:
Bullshit. Design patents are so overly broad, they can be applied on anything and everything. Getting Galaxy Tabs banned just because it's a tablet... that looks like a tablet. Gee, why haven't we banned every television screen out there? They all use inch-thick bezels, exactly what is being used on the iPad!


Design patents aren't necessarily broad. If they are deemed to be ACTUALLY 'too broad' by the legal system (who makes that call, not you) the patent wont stand. Simple. Self regulating. The Galaxy Tab* not Tabs* was banned because amongst other things, their own lawyer couldn't tell them apart. It was such a copy of the iPad that their own lawyer was unable to distinguish them. Do you think he'd be able to distinguish a television? Of course.

Does that make a mockery of your comment? Naturally.

quote:
What exactly are these workarounds? Do something different than Apple, thus ensuring they will fail commercially?


The exact minor workarounds that Samsung actually did, in real life, in creating the Galaxy Tab 10.1 N? A tablet which was deemed not to be infringing? Or the exact same differences which every other tablet manufacturer managed to already add to their devices and thus not invite legal cases?

All it took was a bit of minor innovation, Samsung failed on first time of asking, but their changed 10.1N tablet was found to be not infringing. That further makes a mockery of your comments about 'broad' and shows how silly your television claim is.

quote:
Yes I do know how they work. You don't. Apple's patent filings are so vague and ambiguous, they leave a lot to interpretation. Hence the goal posts.


See above for the simple and obvious education I provided you on how broad patents are not valid.

quote:
What valid patents? Design patents? Those are invalid.


You're so confused, it's adorable. Do you think 'Design patents' are invalid, by definition? Do you not realise that Design Patents are in fact every bit as legitimate as any other kind of patent? They are also far more powerful, legally, than FRAND patents. I am yet to see your 'fanboy' excuse as to why Motorola attempts to have devices banned over FRAND patents?

quote:
But keep arguing they are valid because you could not afford to lose arguments.


What I said (which is already a repeated comment):

quote:
provided said patents are valid (which I wont provide any opinion on )


Are you seriously so stupid to just fail to read that simple sentence?

quote:
1 - Sony did a wedge design on some of their laptops but did not file a patent on it. They don't see a need for it. 2 - Apple made their Macbook Airs look like a wedge and wanted to patent that. 3 - What are they gonna do next? Of course, sue every manufacturer under the sun for violating the wedge design patent! 4 - You cannot make something look like a wedge because it is patented by Apple. 5 - You cannot make something with beveled edges because it is patented by Apple. 6 - You cannot make something with rounded rectangles and inch-thick bezels because it is patented by Apple. 7 - Of course you think these are perfectly valid patents because Tim Cook says "Do or else". Apple plays as a victim when it is actually a bully. Copy features directly out of Android and call them "invented by Apple", but Google doing the same and you sue them for piracy.


1 - If the 'wedge' design you claim Sony came up with is the same, legally, as Apple patented, their patent wont be valid due to prior art. If not, it will.
2 - Apple set records for worlds thinnest laptops in the process, thereby most definitely not copying anything anyone else had created.
3 - Have they done this? No. Is your random guessing even worth responding to?.... [silence]
4 - You cannot create anything which infringes upon Apples patent provided said patent is valid. Their patent application did not simply say 'wedge'.
5 & 6 - Simply nonsensical non-truth. Thousands of devices have bevelled edges and rounded edges and are not infringing.
7 - For the fourth time, I'll try educating you and hope you realise that I've not provided any opinion on whether any patents are valid or not. Try, for your own sake, to grasp that this time.

quote:
Wrong, as Apple has already proven otherwise with its COPYCAT patents.


Did you somehow think that by writing COPYCAT I wouldn't notice the complete lack of any actual evidence in this claim?

quote:
What actually did happen is that Apple patented technology which had ALREADY been patented by someone else , and they proceeded to sue people who infringed upon that copycat patent after it was filed.


1 - In theory, you can't patent something if it's been patented by someone else. Feel free to provide an example.
2 - Even if you somehow got around 1 - the patent you filed wouldn't be valid so it's a self regulated industry. Prior patents are far more damning than prior art, it simply doesn't happen. You're basically talking complete nonsense because you don't understand the system.

quote:
Admission of guilt - you have confessed that whatever Apple's been doing in court is illegal. Therefore, what I said is completely relevant since it's what is happening.


How can you be so incredibly stupid to interpret a sentence which says that if a patent is successful, it's by definition NOT ILLEGAL as meaning that it's illegal? Seriously? Are you 12?

Please, before you embarrass yourself any further, Dailytech Monkey MK2 - try to actually learn how to read and understand my factual and logical comments.

;-)


"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer














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