Giving An Allowance Patented: Acacia Sues Apple

from the giving-allowance-isn't-prior-art? dept

Acacia is a well known patent hoarder, who buys up or licenses various unused patents and sets up subsidiaries who do nothing but sue companies in the market who actually make products. The latest Acacia lawsuit has been filed against Apple for the "allowance" feature in iTunes that allows someone to transfer a dollar amount of iTunes credit to someone else -- effectively allowing a parent with a credit card to issue some "allowance" for a kid to purchase iTunes. You would think that such a concept wouldn't be patentable, given the history of parents giving kids an allowance -- but apparently the folks working in the patent office never received allowances as kids. The patent itself seems rather straightforward, but it's difficult to understand why such a thing is patentable in the first place. In the Teleflex v. KSR ruling the Supreme Court noted that the patent office shouldn't just approve patents on combining obvious ideas. Mixing the internet with allowances would seem to fall into that camp, though this patent was issued prior to the Supreme Court ruling.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Denis, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 9:50am

    Paycheck

    I should check about patenting the electronic paycheck. Since well, it's an idea that is already done and seems the PO is just giving prior ideas the go ahead.

    So, anyone who gets a paycheck electronically online have to divvy up some cash to me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 10:22am

    We need some checks and balances.. how about a supreme court for patents. They would be totally separate from the patent office and would only have the power to instantly revoke patents.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Feb 13th, 2008 @ 10:46am

    Re #2

    That would be awesome. =D

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 10:49am

    It's time someone patent sthe process of patenting and suing for profit.

     

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  5.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Feb 13th, 2008 @ 10:49am

    Re:

    We need some checks and balances.. how about a supreme court for patents. They would be totally separate from the patent office and would only have the power to instantly revoke patents.

    Well, we already have CAFC, which is effectively a court for patent disputes... and the opposite occurred. Because it's focused on patents, former patent attorneys were appointed to it, and there's nothing most patent attorneys like more than more patents...

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 10:55am

    Patent court

    Yeah, it's like tax court, which is effectively ran by the IRS. It needs, instead, to be set up in some fashion that is somewhat adversarial... like the executive/legislative/judicial branches of government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 11:04am

    Re:

    Or we can just eliminate patents and copyrights all together.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    The Swiss Cheese Monster, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 11:07am

    I love this line:

    "but apparently the folks working in the patent office never
    received allowances as kids."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Joe Smith, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 11:07am

    prior art

    Tuck money, gift cards and certificates, joint credit cards, prepaid credit cards, prepaid cell phones, prepaid calling cards ...

    A long long time ago ( one hundred years ), one of my forebears was a ne're do well whose parents sent money to a bank account far far away (six thousand miles) for him to go and live on when they decided to get rid of him. What difference between them depositing money to a foreign bank account to be drawn on by their son and me depositing money to an iTunes account to be drawn on by my son?

    What we really need is a program for sending patent trolls to jail.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 11:16am

    Re: prior art

    "What we really need is a program for sending patent trolls to jail."

    Right, little lemonade joe

    and the biggest patent troll extorting money from all over the place on a huge pile of (mostly) bullshit patents is what, joe ?

    IBM of course

    Why don't you propose a program of how to put all those crooked CEOs where they truly belong - behind bars
    Why it's only the little crooks you always worry about, Joe?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Patent Holder, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 11:27am

    My Patent

    I hold the patent for reading techdirt. If I catch you reading techdirt, I'll sue

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    dorpass, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 11:30am

    Re: Re: prior art

    "Why it's only the little crooks you always worry about, Joe?"

    Oh yes, Acacia is a "small" crook. Poor little guys, defending years of effort and research that went into their patents..

    Would you like to provide proof for IBM being a patent troll? They create a lot of patents through *gasp* actual research. IBM also has many patents that it doesn't use to use the crap out of other companies. While some of their patent litigation is questionable, they do have a lot of other positives to counterbalance at least, what does Acacia have?

    I am ok with you being angry, but why be stupid as well?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Joe Smith, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 11:57am

    Re: Re: prior art

    Why it's only the little crooks you always worry about, Joe?

    A troll is a troll. I worry about them all. Litigation by Lotus (albeit based on copyright law) held back the competitive market place for spreadsheets for years. When Techdirt publishes an example of this type of shakedown by IBM, I will be happy to advocate imprisonment for their executives.

    I do think that the current state of the law has created an environment where companies like IBM are forced to file a patent as a defensive measure every time one of their scientists has a bowel movement.

    I do not want to feed your paranoia but you might think on the fact that we send people to jail for years for robbing a grocery store but no one from Wall Street has gone to jail for the sub-prime mess which involves six to eight orders of magnitude more money.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    BlowURmindBowel, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 12:20pm

    watch out!

    Watch it Joe, that dude looks pretty angry...

    (rotting hamsters in your bowel will do that to a person)

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: prior art

    "When Techdirt publishes an example of this type of shakedown by IBM, I will be happy to advocate imprisonment for their executives."

    Read this, little joe

    http://www-304.ibm.com/jct03004c/businesscenter/venturedevelopment/us/en/featurearticle/gcl_x mlid/40517/nav_id/inthenews

    In other words what IBM proposes to startups is this:
    give us unrestricted license to all of your patents AND $25,000+ and we promise not to sue you for possible violation of one of our 40,000 junk patents...

    I say: How generous ! F*** you IBM !

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 2:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: prior art

    hi angry dude, I would like a whopper with Cheese, no pickle, or mustard, Onion Rings and a small shake.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92utho4PjH0

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Feb 13th, 2008 @ 2:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: prior art

    I like how Angry Dude pretends we never knock big companies like IBM for their own patent misdeeds. We call them out just as much.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20071226/112149.shtml
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20 071021/141623.shtml
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20071005/032654.shtml
    http://www.techdirt.com /articles/20061023/105908.shtml

    I mean, he knows about them, since he's commented on some of them:

    http://www.techdirt.com/article.php?sid=20071021/141623#c181

    However, given angry dude's history of lying on this site, it's no surprise that he seems to have selective memory on that front as well.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 6:28pm

    "Giving An Allowance Patented"

    What's next - milk 'n cookies ?

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Emix, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 7:09pm

    Simple solution..

    There is quite a simple solution to all these ridiculous patent/copyright lawsuits; have the plaintiff liable for the defendants lawyer fees, court fees and any damages brought on by the plaintiffs lawsuit if they lose. I’m sure a lot of these ridiculous lawsuits would come to a screeching halt and make people think twice before filing a ridiculous claim. The only people that would follow up and go all the way with them, are those that are actually being cheated and have a legit product for the patent/copyright.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 8:02pm

    Re: Simple solution..

    moron,

    All of those patent lawsuits are filed by corporations, usually LLCs or, in case of Acacia, it's a relatively large publicly-traded corporation

    Corporations and LLCs shield executives from personal liabilities
    Otherwise you would see a LOT of those crooked CEOs of large corporations kicked out of their mansions or worse, in jail

    I say go and do it dude
    I will gladly sacrifice my only patent for the benefit of humanity - just to see some of those CEO bastards follow Dennis Kozlovski path

    And BTW what you are proposing will directly lead to domination of a few largest market players
    patent lawsuit is a total crapshoot in the US, even with the perfectly valid patent
    Only the largest players can afford to absorb possible losses

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 12:27pm

    Apple's Patent Applicatin

    If the idea isn't patentable, then why does Apple have a patent application pending on it? Why does Apple tout this feature as patent pending? See:

    http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2003/nov/06itunes.html

    And there is a sepecial patent review court. It's called the Federal Circuit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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