Another Day, Another Patent Lawsuit Against Apple Over The iPhone

from the 200-patents-outweighed-by-plenty-more dept

Steve Jobs definitely invited it in hyping up the fact that the iPhone was covered by 200 patents, but it seems like every other week or so, we hear about yet another firm suing Apple for violating its patents with the iPhone. Apple has been sued over the iPhone over and over and over and over and over again. And now it's happened yet again. People talk about how every high tech product today is likely to violated hundreds, if not thousands, of patents, and the iPhone seems to be on its way to proving that point. At some point, doesn't someone realize how this highlights how much patents hinder innovation? It's the tragedy of the anti-commons, where any innovation today seems to require paying hundreds to thousands of tollbooths. It drives up the cost of innovation, almost always consisting of situations where the patent in question was not relied on for the newer innovation at all. It's a flat-out negative cost to society, which is the exact opposite of what the patent system is supposed to encourage.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 1:07am

    Ladies and Gentilemen, this is Mambo number 5

    When your on top, everyone wants to find a way to tear you down.

    Американская фирма "Транссептор Текнолоджи" приступила к производству компьютеров "Персональный Спутник

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    people, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 1:31am

    and heacs will roll

     

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

  3.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Apr 9th, 2009 @ 2:51am

    Is Apple a Serial Infringer & Patent Pirate?

    Has it occurred to anyone that Apple is being sued because they have a big appetite for others' patent property and a big ego that gets in the way of acquiring the rights to the patent properties they need to succeed in the market?

    Have you considered that Apple is sued after they have refused a legitimate offer for a license?

    Have you wondered why Apple produces lots of patents yet still misses the most important technology they need to satisfy their customers?

    Or have you considered that Apple's membership in the Coalition for Patent fairness and PIRACY, aka. the Piracy Coalition is a good indication that birds of a feather do flock together?

    Some companies start as inventors, and some start as parasites on those who have invented. Eventually they end up alike, one group never being inventive and the second losing the ability to produce significant inventions as they age. Both will try to substitute quantity in patent filings for the quality of inventions they are incapable of producing. It does not work.

    All Piracy Coalition members fit one of these profiles. Tech companies who are past their prime, insurance and banking collectively have no shame!

    What they are very good at producing is innovative media hype which obfuscates the reality of their existence. Their multi-million dollar “troll” campaign is a perfect example of this. They paint their victims as “trolls” while the courts are finding their conduct so egregious that they are handing down staggering judgments. This is what happens to those who are caught lying, cheating, and stealing and no amount of public relations painting their victims as evil “trolls” can change the facts of these cases.

    Personally I think that it is a shame that Piracy Coalition members have failed to learn the lesson that inventors and the courts are teaching. It is all about conducting one’s business in an ethical manner!

    Ronald J. Riley,

    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.patentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 3:17am

    Re: Is Apple a Serial Infringer & Patent Pirate?

    Ronald, How've you been, man? It's been a while. What are you up to these days? How are the affiliated companies doing?

    Come back to pick on Mike again? Maybe make fun of his upbringing? Ask questions about his childhood? How can we help you find the door out?

    Here you go:
    http://www.yahoo.com

    Don't let the damned door hit you on the way out.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    R. Miles, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 4:15am

    Re: Is Apple a Serial Infringer & Patent Pirate?

    Great. Another idiot who defends the patent system, especially while proving the points on why it's an outdated system.

    "Both will try to substitute quantity in patent filings for the quality of inventions they are incapable of producing."
    This, Ronald, should force you to wake up and realize the true problem and understand why the patent system is under "threat" (per the piausa website).

    It's because the system is being abused by those who cash in on others who do take the time, money, and resources to innovate with the filed patent.

    Maybe you should start defending for change, not stagnation, of the patent system.

    For starters: Invalidate all patents filed by the business after 24 months if in such time the business does not produce, sell, or apply the filed patent.

    Sitting on a possible gold mine is destroying the American dream when a start up, without resources to review every damn patent filed in the last 20 years, gets sued out of existence because some asshole waited for the patent to be used.

    Another patent change: Remove all patents regarding software. This should have never been allowed. Software is not an invention, especially since all is built off the works of others.

    Finally: All patents should have a life span no longer than 24 months. Period.

    Get your head out of your ass and stop defending this idiotic system.

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 5:34am

    Hyperbole Abounds!

    Hyperbole, thy name is Mike Masnick and R. Miles.

    "People talk about how every high tech product today is likely to violated hundreds, if not thousands, of patents..."

    This is good. How many lawsuits have we seen that accuse a product of violating hundreds of patents? I have yet to see even one.

    Let's back off a little. How many products have been accused of violating even 10's of patents? Maybe the iPhone. It would be interesting to add up the patents in suit and count how many.

    How many actual patent counts has anyone provided to prove the 1000's, 100's, or even 10's of patents infringed or accused of infringement by any product, including the iPhone. I have yet to see even one.

    Re R. Miles:

    Great. Another idiot who defends the patent system, especially while proving the points on why it's an outdated system.

    Actually, the current patent system has worked quite well for more than 200 years. We have tons (to use one of Mike Masnick's favorite words to apply to quantities) of inventions available for public use because they were disclosed by inventors. Indeed, with roughly 7.3 million issued patents, only about 1.7 million remain in force, perhaps significantly less. Consider how wonderful it is that anyone in the world can access each and every one of the expired patents and practice them without fear, forever. What a marvelous bargain that is for a relatively brief monopoly.

    It's because the system is being abused by those who cash in on others who do take the time, money, and resources to innovate with the filed patent.

    On the other hand, if there was no patent system, and the invention was truly non-obvious, then they would have had nothing to innovate with, would they?

    Another patent change: Remove all patents regarding software. This should have never been allowed. Software is not an invention, especially since all is built off the works of others.

    You are obviously unfamiliar with In Re Bilski, which has only received thousands of posts across the internet. While Bilski will not invalidate software the causes transformations or is tied to a particular machine, it will invalidate thousands of patents and prevent the patenting of a lot of software.

    Finally: All patents should have a life span no longer than 24 months. Period.

    That is fine except for the company that needs 5 or 10 years of payback for a protected invention. While some of those inventions will happen without patents, many will not.

    Get your head out of your ass and stop defending this idiotic system.

    I believe this is called an ad hominem argument. Fundamentally, if you are unable to bring facts to bear, you use a personal attack. Smart move! These kinds of comments really help forward your logical arguments that the patent system is less then perfect (though it is better than no patent system at all).

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    mac84, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 5:44am

    Think of the Lawyers!!!

    They have a right to make a living, too. How many high paying jobs would be lost without the negotiation and litigation?

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Mechwarrior, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 6:01am

    What is the logic in allowing lawyers to create overly broad patents and then sell the rights to sue ? It seems patents are less for protecting innovation, and more for extorting money, especially with these terribly vague documents which seem to patent entire industries (One Click, patents on "touch screens used in conjunction with 3D graphics" etc)

    Theres already plenty of research that shows that innovation has slowed down. But if people want to lock in that cash settlement, it really doesnt matter who gets hurt. Frankly, I dont care about patents. If its so easy to copy your invention, then the fact is your invention isnt really all that innovative.

    Mechwarrior - R&D Automation Engineer

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 6:05am

    Re: Re: Is Apple a Serial Infringer & Patent Pirate?

    I could easily see a patent lasting 3-5 years. Past that there isn't really a point. Agreed on the software patents and the time frame people have to make use of something. 2 years is typically enough to get a product out the door

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    R. Miles, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 7:55am

    Re: Hyperbole Abounds!

    Actually, the current patent system has worked quite well for more than 200 years.
    Consider how wonderful it is that anyone in the world can access each and every one of the expired patents and practice them without fear, forever. What a marvelous bargain that is for a relatively brief monopoly.

    50 years ago, I would agree with this statement. Today, however, I would not, especially in regard to software.

    Technology isn't the same today as it was 200, or even 50, years ago. A patent on a "widget" was much easier to protect when an industry wasn't as fast growing as it is today.

    There are more companies today producing products than there were 50 years ago. It's much more conceivable to see two different companies, taking existing technology, innovate a new idea, only to have it shunted by patent, either by removing the innovative device or paying out licensing fees, especially to corporations who did nothing with them.

    I suggest you review some of those 1.7 million patents "active", and see just how businesses take advantage of filing the next logical step of the product/software design.

    Having a patent on "software which reads from a text source for translation into sound" isn't an invention.
    It's a logical step, based on existing technology, of taking two INVENTIONS (speaker and computer) and applying an innovation (re: ebook reader and personal computer).

    I have no problem for patents filing new inventions. But a serious one in which they're filed for ideas using existing technology.

    On the other hand, if there was no patent system, and the invention was truly non-obvious, then they would have had nothing to innovate with, would they?
    I disagree, especially when, back in the day, patents were filed because of innovation, and those inventions were protected for the small monopoly granted to them.

    But to try and convince me innovation wouldn't occur without a patent system is ludicrous.

    What do you think humans did prior to this 200 year old system?

    it will invalidate thousands of patents and prevent the patenting of a lot of software.
    Actually, I remember this. Just hit Wiki for a refresh, to make sure I didn't skip over pertinent information.

    However, my argument still stands. Software shouldn't be considered a patent, regardless of its ties to a specific machine or not.

    Software is not an invention. It is a series of commands used to control said device. The device itself may warrant a patent, but never the software.

    Software can be (is) covered under copyright as it is a work, not an invention.

    That is fine except for the company that needs 5 or 10 years of payback for a protected invention. While some of those inventions will happen without patents, many will not.
    I referred to the 24 months as the window of monopoly once the invention is released for public consumption.

    I can open my mind to have this 24 months extended if the following is applied:
    1) The invention must remain on market to recoup loses of bringing said invention to market
    -AND-
    2) Invention, using patent, is still in production
    -AND-
    3) Patent is used in business revenue
    -AND-
    4) Patent will expire if:
    A) Business is no longer producing products using invention
    -OR-
    B) No other business is licensing patent.

    Basically put: The patent expires immediately if it's no longer in use.

    There is no justification to warrant a patent for 20 years while it sits no where but on record in the patent office.

    Better?

    you use a personal attack.
    I don't believe this was a personal attack. Rhetoric advice, maybe, but certainly not an attack.

    These kinds of comments really help forward your logical arguments that the patent system is less then perfect(though it is better than no patent system at all).
    Point taken. I'll keep this in mind the next time I want to place personal advice in my argument. Thank you.

    As for the paren comment, I disagree with that. Review statement regarding human invention prior to any existence of a patent system.

    I couldn't imagine the world today if our ancestors, 10,000 years ago, had such a patent system in place.

    You'd probably be using a spork to drive nails made of cow dung into a plank of wood sawed with termites given the hammer, metal nail, and saw blade would have been covered by patents.

    And since currency did not yet exist, I couldn't imagine how in the world licensing fees would have been paid.
    ;)

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 7:56am

    Re: Hyperbole Abounds!

    Consider how wonderful it is that anyone in the world can access each and every one of the expired patents and practice them without fear, forever.

    Two things:

  12. I've read over many, many patents belonging to the trade in which I am skilled. I can tell you that rarely have I been able to take "inventions availabe for public use" and actually make any use (or sense) of them whatsoever. If you are talking about "plastic clips to close bread bags", then you are talking about a completely different level of patenting than what the vast majority of contra-patent people such as myself are worried about. When we cannot even practice our skills/art without treading on others' patents, there is a MASSIVE problem.
  13. Consider how wonderful it would be if people could simply experiment with existing products, figure out how to reproduce/improve on them, without fear, forever. The patent system is what CREATES that fear.

    The pro-patent people have yet to prove that the patent system actually "advances science and technology". Where's the proof?

  14.  

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

  15.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 11:52am

    freaking punks everywhere

    inet is a shithole
    this blog is one example

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 8:43pm

    Re: Re: Hyperbole Abounds!

    mobigeek:

    There have been dozens of studies cited, and yet they are blown off as biased or flawed or whatever. I challenge YOU to prove that the system does NOT advance science and technology.

    I am unable to tell you why you are unable to read the patents in your field. I am an engineer and I work with many engineers, and in the mechanical and electrical arts we have little problem reading the patents.

    As for experimenting with existing products without fear, you can. There is NOTHING that prohibits you from purchasing a copy of an existing product and figuring out how to improve it, and then either giving that improvement to the world or patenting it yourself.

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 9:01pm

    Re: Re: Hyperbole Abounds!

    R. Miles:

    Actually, the current patent system has worked quite well for more than 200 years.

    Consider how wonderful it is that anyone in the world can access each and every one of the expired patents and practice them without fear, forever. What a marvelous bargain that is for a relatively brief monopoly.


    50 years ago, I would agree with this statement. Today, however, I would not, especially in regard to software.

    Technology isn't the same today as it was 200, or even 50, years ago. A patent on a "widget" was much easier to protect when an industry wasn't as fast growing as it is today.

    There are more companies today producing products than there were 50 years ago. It's much more conceivable to see two different companies, taking existing technology, innovate a new idea, only to have it shunted by patent, either by removing the innovative device or paying out licensing fees, especially to corporations who did nothing with them.

    I suggest you review some of those 1.7 million patents "active", and see just how businesses take advantage of filing the next logical step of the product/software design.

    Having a patent on "software which reads from a text source for translation into sound" isn't an invention.
    It's a logical step, based on existing technology, of taking two INVENTIONS (speaker and computer) and applying an innovation (re: ebook reader and personal computer).

    I have no problem for patents filing new inventions. But a serious one in which they're filed for ideas using existing technology.


    This post is terribly long, but I will point out that the USPTO, the BPAI, the CAFC, and the Supreme Court are dramatically expanding obviousness, and constricting what is patentable. I suspect that many of your concerns will no longer be concerns within a few years.

    On the other hand, if there was no patent system, and the invention was truly non-obvious, then they would have had nothing to innovate with, would they?

    I disagree, especially when, back in the day, patents were filed because of innovation, and those inventions were protected for the small monopoly granted to them.

    But to try and convince me innovation wouldn't occur without a patent system is ludicrous.

    What do you think humans did prior to this 200 year old system?


    Well, the pace of invention prior to the patent system was dreadfully slow. PAINFULLY slow. Indeed, even Thomas Jefferson, who had doubts about patents was surprised at the number of inventions presented for patent after the system was created. His conclusion was that the system seemed to do what it was intended to do.

    it will invalidate thousands of patents and prevent the patenting of a lot of software.

    Actually, I remember this. Just hit Wiki for a refresh, to make sure I didn't skip over pertinent information.

    However, my argument still stands. Software shouldn't be considered a patent, regardless of its ties to a specific machine or not.

    Software is not an invention. It is a series of commands used to control said device. The device itself may warrant a patent, but never the software.

    Software can be (is) covered under copyright as it is a work, not an invention.


    I think software can be patented as part of an invention, but I think I agree with you in general that software in and of itself should not be patentable.

    That is fine except for the company that needs 5 or 10 years of payback for a protected invention. While some of those inventions will happen without patents, many will not.

    I referred to the 24 months as the window of monopoly once the invention is released for public consumption.

    I can open my mind to have this 24 months extended if the following is applied:

    1) The invention must remain on market to recoup loses of bringing said invention to market

    -AND-

    2) Invention, using patent, is still in production
    -AND-

    3) Patent is used in business revenue
    -AND-

    4) Patent will expire if:
    A) Business is no longer producing products using invention
    -OR-
    B) No other business is licensing patent.

    Basically put: The patent expires immediately if it's no longer in use.

    There is no justification to warrant a patent for 20 years while it sits no where but on record in the patent office.

    Better?


    All actions have consequences. The consequence of this action is that people will hold back filing for patents until the last possible moment, meaning that technology will transfer from companies (which pay for about 70% of all research) to the public at large significantly slower than it currently does.

    On the other hand, I read a brilliant paper at the John Locke Institute, a Libertarian organization, and an analysis by Levine that suggests the optimal life for a patent is probably closer to 10 years, though the Libertarian analyst granted that for some industries 10 years might not be enough.

    As for the paren comment, I disagree with that. Review statement regarding human invention prior to any existence of a patent system.

    I couldn't imagine the world today if our ancestors, 10,000 years ago, had such a patent system in place.

    You'd probably be using a spork to drive nails made of cow dung into a plank of wood sawed with termites given the hammer, metal nail, and saw blade would have been covered by patents.

    And since currency did not yet exist, I couldn't imagine how in the world licensing fees would have been paid.


    I think there would be very little difference. Remember that the pace of development prior to about 400 or 500 years ago (about the time the first patent system came into being) was PAINFULLY slow. A single innovation might well take 100 years (or even more) to disseminate into a small part of the world. Indeed, patents probably made very little sense in that era just because the products could be produced and sold faster into new markets than someone could identify the new products, figure out how to make them, and produce them successfully. Indeed, so much knowledge was secret in those days that difficulty of manufacture was frequently a huge problem.

    People keep talking about how the world worked fine before patents existed. Sure it did. On the other hand, our pace of invention and development now is somewhere between 50 and 1000 times faster than the pace of invention and development 500 years ago.

    Amazingly, with all the grumbling and complaints about patents and chilling effects and yada yada yada, invention and innovation CONTINUE TO ACCELERATE, and various studies and analyses indicate that, prior to the meltdown, we were not graduating enough students in various technical arts to keep up with the pace of invention and innovation. Hardly seems like the effects of patents are very chilling, does it?

     

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

  18.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Apr 10th, 2009 @ 4:39am

    Lack of understanding of the business.

    1) It is not unusual for it to take 5-10 years from conception of an invention to successful commercialization. There are many reasons for this including the fact that it can take solo inventors years to raise enough money to fund each step.

    2) Inventions can often be implemented in hardware or software. There is no reason that one which is implemented in software should not have the same protection as those implemented in hardware. It is a fact that software implementation is often the only way to produce an acceptable product either for size reasons, flexibility or cost is to move implementation of features into software.

    3) Inventors do not receive patent protection just for inventing, the receive such protection because they teach the invention, the best implementation of their invention.

    4) Recoding another person's invention in a marginally different way does not make the programmer doing so an inventor. Their is s huge difference between conceiving of and implementing an invention and duplicating an invention. It is a fact that there are huge differences in the capabilities of programmers. Call it the programmer Bell Curve. The vast majority of programmers are not terribly creative but egos being what they are few would admit that they do not measure up, that they do not fall into the coveted part of the Bell Curve.

    5) Patents have accelerated the rate of invention by giving inventors an incentive to teach others the essence of the invention. Prior to the introduction of patents as we know them today progress was much slower. Part of the reason for this is that inventors and guilds did their best to not disclose their inventions.

    6) Listen to that huge sucking sound. No matter what you do you cannot compete effectively, you cannot maintain decent profit margins when your competitors are using people who are just as smart and just as well educated who are paid much less money.

    There is only one thing which will allow Americans to maintain their standard of living in the global economy and that is patent protection. Companies with patents have higher margins and prosper, companies producing commodities have razor thin margins.

    Resenting inventors is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Becoming an inventor, a successful inventor is very complex. But it is rewarding and it is a fact that many people are capable of doing this. Readers would better serve their own and society's interests by giving up their resentment and instead joining the inventor community.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

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

  19.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Apr 10th, 2009 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Hyperbole Abounds!

    There have been dozens of studies cited, and yet they are blown off as biased or flawed or whatever. I challenge YOU to prove that the system does NOT advance science and technology.

    This is not so. We have yet to see a single study that shows that the patent system promotes the progress of science or technology. We have shown a few dozen, however, that show the exact opposite.

    I challenge YOU to prove that the system does NOT advance science and technology.

    Easy. No monopoly system has yet been shown to be a more efficient incentive system compared to competition. Creating a monopoly system that denies competition is, without question, a less efficient system.

    There is simply no question here at all.

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 8:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Hyperbole Abounds!

    Copied post from Against Monopoly.org-

    Here is a quote from Chapter 6, Innovation, Intellectual Property, and Competition, of "Anticipating the 21st Century, Competition Policy in the New High-Tech, Global Marketplace," May 1996:

    Intellectual property protection appears to spur innovation -- especially in particular industries -- but also may inhibit successive innovation in some circumstances.

    This same report (also chapter 6) points out that in the period from 1981-83 that 86 percent of innovations overall "would have been developed even without patent protection." (Edwin Mansfield, Patents and innovation: An empirical study, 32 MANAGEMENT SCIENCE 173 (1986). Note that Mansfield's study was for 12 industries and excluded firms with sales below $25 million.

    However, Mansfield also "...concluded that 60 percent of pharmaceutical inventions and 38 percent of chemical inventions would not have been developed absent patent protection.

    Also in chapter 6 is a summary of research by Richard Levin and others in 1987 (Richard C. Levin et al., Appropriating the returns from industrial R&D, BROOKINGS PAPERS ON ECONOMIC ACTIVITY 783, 795-96 (1987)) noting that patents were considered to be "highly effective" in obtaining returns in five industries (which included drugs, organic chemicals, and pesticides) and "moderately effective" about twenty other industries, especially those related to chemicals and "relatively simple mechanical equipment."

    This paper appears to be nicely balanced regarding the benefits and limitations of patents to society.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This