Here We Go Again: Apple's Pinch-To-Zoom Patent Rejected On Re-Exam

from the of-course-it-was dept

We've talked in the past how the US Patent Office is really bad at getting it right with patents. This is supported by the fact that the vast majority of patents that are presented for a post-grant re-exam have some or all of their claims changed or rejected. That spells major trouble for anyone who believes that patents accurately tell the market what is allowed and what is not -- when the USPTO doesn't even seem to know itself. Even more troubling is when courts make rulings over patents while they're still being re-examined, as the ruling itself may depend on the validity of that patent. This has gone on for years. For example, in one of the most famous patent trolling cases, RIM paid out $612.5 million to NTP, even as the USPTO was in the process of rejecting those patents.

The latest news is that, upon re-exam, the Patent Office has now rejected all 21 claims in Apple's infamous "pinch to zoom" 7,844,915 patent. Apple and patent enthusiasts will rightly point out that this is just the first step in the process -- Apple still can and will appeal, and it's very likely that the Patent Office will eventually allow some (perhaps modified) form of the patent to live on. However, since that is one of the patents involved in the Apple/Samsung patent fight, at best this creates even more confusion, since no one knows what that patent will eventually look like. This makes the problem of defining the "boundaries" of what a patent covers even more ridiculous. We already know that so many patents are written broadly, and in a somewhat indecipherable manner, such that they can be applied broadly. But when the boundaries are also subject to the whim of whoever's desk it lands on, it suggests a real problem with the system. We shouldn't be handing out massive monopolies, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, based on the arbitrary judgment of some random patent examiner, when it appears that there is no objective standard at all, but rather a series of (historically bad) guesses. That's no way to build an innovative economy.


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  •  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2012 @ 4:33pm

    It's still not going to change the mis-information out there. On an Australian news show, they had a "Tech expert" on talking about Apple v Samsung. He claimed that "Apple invented the smartphone, and now companies like Blackberry, Samsung, Android and Microsoft are taking advantage of their idea without paying any compensation to Apple. If it wasn't for Apple we'll still be using a basic Nokia phone." - yes he listed Android as a company.

     

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      Wally (profile), Dec 20th, 2012 @ 6:42pm

      Re:

      No, Apple did not invent the smart phone. They just made a solid one. When you look at what was available when the 2G iPhone came out, it was a vastly better phone. It's not so much that they improved everything significantly, they just raised the bar a little for the industry. That's all.

       

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        MrWilson, Dec 20th, 2012 @ 6:53pm

        Re: Re:

        And for that they deserve all the money they earned from all the sales of that device, and nothing more.

         

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        Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Dec 21st, 2012 @ 6:13am

        Re: Re:

        No, Apple did not invent the smart phone. They just made a solid one.
        Indeed they didn't. I was on my hmm... 3rd generation I think of HTC smartphone when the first iPhone was released. The phone I'd had for about 4-5 months at the time was IMO superior to the original iPhone in most ways and for most uses and at least 3 times better as a business phone instead of a toy.
        they just raised the bar a little for the industry.
        If you mean "made smartphones prettier" then yes, if you mean "drove design towards slimmer and lighter" then yes (I believe the one I had at the time was probably pre-competing with the iPhone - or possibly Apple copied its design as the 2 looked remarkably similar overall), other than that it's a bit tenuous... as usual Apple largely took what was already around and re-arranged it a bit.

         

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          Wally (profile), Dec 21st, 2012 @ 8:51am

          Re: Re: Re:

          In order to make the pictures and icons pretty, they needed better components to process the information. The iPhone wasn't just a phone, it was an MP3 and Video player as well when it came out. No other phone was doing that in any simpler way when the iPhone came out. They raised the bar in the industry's standards in quality of use and used a slightly minimalist looking OS that didn't drag the phone's processing power down as others had. So it's reasonable to say they raised the bar a bit for the industry.

           

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            Mason Wheeler (profile), Dec 21st, 2012 @ 10:09am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Raised the bar? They produced a piece of crap that had no keyboard, no USB support, no way to change the battery, no way to upgrade the internal storage, and a DRM-laden "walled garden" app model that meant that even after they sold you the phone, for all intents and purposes Apple remained the owner of the device.

            How does any of this raise the bar on product quality in any way?

             

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              Wally (profile), Dec 21st, 2012 @ 11:22am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Ok, in order to get an app from iTunes, you have two choices...while logged into iTunes of course...It is more like a Steam account than anything else. You either download the app directly to the device through a WiFi or data connection, or use the USB ditch that comes with the device (rebuttal on your claims of no USB support and probable claim that they don't come with an adapter from the doch to USB) to connect the iPhone to your computer to have the computer sync the iPhone using iTunes (which was and is free to use even if you don't own an iDevice). Synching with iTunes allows your previous firmware and all your purchased music and apps to be backed up onto your computer's hard disk.

              iTunes carried the drivers for the iPhone and iPod so you didn't need to worry about loosing a CD-ROM to access or install the firmware of your device like you did with PalmOS devices.

              PalmOS is a pain in the arse to synch up to your PC with external storage (micro and standard SD cards if i recall) mainly because in order for a Palm app to show up on the OS, you have to place it in the correct folder which is encrypted by using gibberish for file names (*cites the Wii Virtual console and save data backup system as an example*) that only the specific proprietary software for your device (which was tied to your computer as DRM) to show it on the screen. Even if you did get it right, the icons are very small and the settings to change the size of text for accessibility are squirreled away in drop down menus.

              Here we have iTunes...all it takes is one click when your device is hooked up to your computer to backup your data and load Apps you have downloaded from iTunes to and from your computer and/or device.

              The supposed walled garden prevents developers from exploiting the users of iTunes.

              The iPhone, keyboard shows up when you surf the web today as it had then, and the lack of a physical keyboard in general allowed for it to be a bit thinner and allowed more capacity for better hardware. This also eliminated the need for the rather hefty controller chip used for keyboards. Again that means more space for better hardware at a reduced manufacturing cost.

              The battery is charged via the USB doch connector....which carries USB on one end, and the doch connector on the other. You could use the USB port of your computer to charge your iPhone...you still can. The only reason for the doch connector being there is that iPod owners would be able to use their connectors on the iPhone.

              Is there anything else you wish to use to show how misinformed you are about the iPhone and my statement?

               

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                John Fenderson (profile), Dec 21st, 2012 @ 12:04pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Umm, aside from the USB comment, everything Mason Wheeler said sounds correct to me, and nothing you said contradicts him. Perhaps I didn't understand what you are trying to say?

                I'm not sure where PalmOS comes into the picture here, so I'm a bit confused by your discussion of it.

                 

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            Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Dec 21st, 2012 @ 4:03pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            In order to make the pictures and icons pretty, they needed better components to process the information
            Wasn't really talking about those bits - the phone I had at the time was better for both anyway - I was talking about the piece of equipment it they were displayed on. The processing apple used was little different from other manufacturers at the time. As for the pictures, well:
            The iPhone wasn't just a phone, it was an MP3 and Video player as well when it came out.
            As was the phone I had before the iPhone came out, as well as playing more formats than the iPhone. Also the screen res was better though admittedly the sound wasn't as good, though you'd hope apple would be good at that really...
            No other phone was doing that in any simpler way when the iPhone came out.
            True - focussing on the word "simpler" at least. Apple's major strengh is in ergonomics not technology - they make things that are good for humans to use. It doesn't mean the technology is superior, in fact usually their improvements are incremental at best and simple re-packaging at "worst". This is not neccesasrily a bad thing - ergonomics are as important as any other piece of a phone - though in many cases they then claim ownership of something they ripped off someone else and "tweaked", which annoys the hell out of me (the famous "rounded corners" being somwehat of an example).
            The OS for iPhone is indeed slightly slicker than rivals, though from memory the first version sucked by comparison with the phone I had at the time. That's nothing to do with technology or expertise though, that's what happens when you have a walled garden and dictate as strictly as Apple do. Allowing for compatibility slows things down. Me, I choose a minor speed loss and wide compatibilty over being tied in every time, though that's personal choice.

             

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      Celia Spivack (profile), Dec 20th, 2012 @ 8:35pm

      Re: Android

      Android was a company that was acquired by Google. Danger had a pre-Apple product too and it was quite popular. Microsoft acquired Danger.

       

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      Celia Spivack (profile), Dec 20th, 2012 @ 8:35pm

      Re: Android

      Android was a company that was acquired by Google. Danger had a pre-Apple product too and it was quite popular. Microsoft acquired Danger.

       

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      Celia Spivack (profile), Dec 20th, 2012 @ 8:35pm

      Re: Android

      Android was a company that was acquired by Google. Danger had a pre-Apple product too and it was quite popular. Microsoft acquired Danger.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2012 @ 4:17am

      Re:

      Comedy gold: the fist "smartphone" as we think of them was probably a Nokia 1st-generation 6000 series model.

       

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      DannyB (profile), Dec 21st, 2012 @ 6:35am

      Re:

      So the reality distortion field reaches all the way to Australia.

       

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    Mike Brown (profile), Dec 20th, 2012 @ 4:53pm

    The Iphone came out in 2007, so I figure that turd sandwich owes apologies to Symbian (2000), Blackberry (1999), Android (2003), and Palm OS/Handspring (2003).

    Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smartphone

     

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      Wally (profile), Dec 20th, 2012 @ 6:45pm

      Re:

      Look at the hardware specs running those operating systems. Then look at how the first iPhone handled its OS. Big difference in performance.

       

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        The Groove Tiger (profile), Dec 20th, 2012 @ 8:15pm

        Re: Re:

        A processor from 2007 was better than a processor from 1999. Go figure.

         

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          Wally (profile), Dec 20th, 2012 @ 9:52pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Sorry, I should ckarify. Technically, we only had those choices until the iPhone until 2007. Processor specs and all.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2012 @ 11:50pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The processor in the apple is an arm core.
            They did not invent the processor.

            The core was widely available so actually we had a lot more choices. Its just that iOS sucked so hard it required a faster processor.

             

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              Wally (profile), Dec 21st, 2012 @ 8:58am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "The processor in the apple is an arm core.
              They did not invent the processor.

              The core was widely available so actually we had a lot more choices. Its just that iOS sucked so hard it required a faster processor."

              ARM is an architecture platform, not a core. Companies design their own core chips and systems based around the ARM architecture and design there own systems with ARM instruction sets and data calls. Apple designed their ARM based CPU around the ARM architecture and had an outside company manufacture their design of the ARM core they use.

               

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      Niall (profile), Dec 21st, 2012 @ 2:45am

      Re:

      There's also makers like HTC - my 2006 HTC smartphone did almost everything an iPhone did (except the pinchy thing) and several things better.

       

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      Bad Cyborg, Dec 31st, 2012 @ 1:30am

      Re:

      The tech expert erred in using the word "invent". He should have said "refined", or at least say "the modern smartphone as seen in today's Samsung sets", or, to be more precise, "streamlined the modern phone OS".

      Wikipedia--which BTW is written by people like us--calls the smartphone "a mobile phone built on a mobile operating system, with more advanced computing capability and connectivity than a feature phone." As such, any maladroit phone that bears all those traits and came out before the iPhone can be regarded as a smartphone by that definition. However, show any typical Samsung user a "smartphone" that came out before the iPhone did, and they'd likely have a good laugh.

      So let's have a look.

      This is Blackberry in 1999.
      http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1638782_1638778_1638769,00.html

      Is it a smartphone? Yes. Is it anything like a Samsung Galaxy anything? No.

      Here are a few Symbian phones. First we have a Nokia 3650 rocking a Symbian OS that looks like this:
      http://assets.hardwarezone.com/2009/img/data/articles/2003/712/screen_menu.jpg

      As for the phone itself:
      http://assets.hardwarezone.com/2009/img/data/articles/2003/712/120x160.jpg

      And this is Nokia N70 running a slightly updated Symbian:
      http://st3.gsmarena.com/p2/vv/pics/nokia/nokia-n70-00.jpg

      Samsung doesn't take their design cues from Nokia. Why?

      Android OS may have been conceived in 2003, but the actual product didn't ship until 2008.
      http://www.uswitch.com/mobiles/news/2011/04/android_timeline_2003_2011/

      As for Handspring, same story as Nokia. If they'd worked harder at the developement... No, forget it. Just forget it.

       

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    out_of_the_blue, Dec 20th, 2012 @ 4:58pm

    We ENTIRELY agree here, but WHAT is your actual fix?

    "We shouldn't be handing out massive monopolies, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, based on the arbitrary judgment of some random patent examiner..."

    No one reasonable would keep ranting for a decade without developing SOME idea of specific fix. Now, from time to time you re-write some other academic's notions, adding your characteristic vague questions and musings, but I can't recall you ever actually stating What I'd Do As Benevolent Dictator. -- I'd suggest feature pieces with that title.

    Now, WIDABD, is steeply progressive income tax rates (even higher than 100% on "unearned income"!) to tax the hell out of The Rich and thereby reduce the value of those monopolies down to a mere million or so; yes, it's a brute force solution, but has many advantages for society at large. I'd next find some cynical geezers to hire at the Patent Office, require working physical models (ruling out software), prohibit corporate ownership of patents or their transfer, and prevent The Already Rich from patenting anything.

    There. Three or four specifics off top of my head that'd definitely work, with the added advantage of fairness to offset the enormous advantages The Rich are born into.

    And so where are Mike's fixes? All he does is complain.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2012 @ 5:01pm

      Re: We ENTIRELY agree here, but WHAT is your actual fix?

      as opposed to what you do here?

      you wouldnt know constructive if it built you a house.

       

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      Intellectual Property Lawyer, Dec 20th, 2012 @ 7:01pm

      Re: We ENTIRELY agree here, but WHAT is your actual fix?

      Mike has proposed a host of fixes to the patent system. From adversarial patent prosecution to open submission for prior art, intent to use requirements to actually requiring 'disclosure' to be rigorous... Mr. Masnick has made a ton of suggestions. Many of which are fully supported by the community of intellectual property attorneys - which I am a part of.

      Your complaint, on the other hand, in addition to being semi-literate, is just flat out ignorant of the long history that Floor64 has had in their stance to patent reform. You are good at CAPS however. So there is that.

      On another note, I hope to meet you in court one day. If your motions are as intellectually rigorous as your above post, I'll make a national mockery of you. And it shall be quite, quite sweet.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2012 @ 7:17pm

      Re: We ENTIRELY agree here, but WHAT is your actual fix?

      OotB complaining about complaining. Classic.

       

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      The Groove Tiger (profile), Dec 20th, 2012 @ 8:16pm

      Re: We ENTIRELY agree here, but WHAT is your actual fix?

      Translation: Mike, you asshole, how dare you agree with me without fixing all my problems.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2012 @ 5:27am

        Re: Re: We ENTIRELY agree here, but WHAT is your actual fix?

        The only way to solve OOTBs problems is with a shotgun to the face.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2012 @ 4:58pm

    A Brazilian company launches their on Android phone named iPhone.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/iPhone-Android-Apple-IGB-Eletronica,19881.html

    Sorry, Apple - China's just not that into your iPhone 5
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/12/17/iphone_5_sales_china/

    Android surpass Nokia as a global leader in smartphones.
    http://www.extremetech.com/computing/139458-android-now-powers-75-of-all-smartphones-s old-are-we-heading-towards-a-google-monopoly

    Just maybe Apple is feeling a bit unwelcome.

    Android is to smartphones what Windows is to the desktop, it is sad to see it happen all over again with Apple doing the exact same mistakes it did with the personal computer in the 80's now doing all over again in the smartphone arena.

     

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      Wally (profile), Dec 20th, 2012 @ 7:37pm

      Re:

      The Brazilian company filed for a trademark on the name "iPhone" in 2000. It got approved by the Brazil, who has laws against any products being imported or exported from the country unless it's solely manufactured within Brazil, gets trademark approval in 2008 by the Brazilian government just as the iPhone explodes into popularity. It's a money grab and the device in question in Brazil, doesn't even exist as a product.

      China...the sales figure in China for the iPhone 5 is roughly 2.2 million last time I checked...within a 48 hour time period.

      Apple beat out Nokia way back when the first iPhone came on.

      The Macintosh brought the PC as we know it home. The biggest mistake they made was firing Steve Jobs, not for making the Macintosh II.

       

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        G Thompson (profile), Dec 20th, 2012 @ 10:42pm

        Re: Re:

        Trademark law is different in every single country (and trademarks have to be applied separately in every single country - So basically whether it was a money grab in Brazil or standard protectionism (America like every other country does this) is basically irrelevant in scheme of things.

        Sales of Apple products in China has dropped significantly and the iPhone 5 was ONLY released in China a few weeks ago. The problem is that Apple don't make any cheap (sub $100) products like Huawei or the other manufacturers that have beat Apple. That's a problem Apple have to address in the rest of the worlds lower cash flow markets if it wants to get a bigger slice. But that's a standard marketing problem for any Multinational corporation - What price is the lowest I can afford to serve my major markets.

        well the Symbian operating system (Nokia) was basically crap compared to iOS and is Nokia really a going concern anymore? Samsung, HTC, and Huawei are the major concerns now for Apple. Even I as my personal phone have a Huawei. It's cheap (was $70 *HA!*) uses Android 2.3 does all I really need on a personal phone. Even Rings ;) and I think that is the problem a lot of places marketers will start dealing with. With the price of tablets falling and Ultrabooks appearing etc the expensive smartphone with all the bells and whistles and the iPhone as a single device (I include Samsung and HTC smartphones in this too) is unnecessary and overkill compared to a cheaper phone that does the minimum (calls, maybe camera, mp3 player, calculator, etc) when you have a tablet/ultrabook that does the rest anyway.

        Oh and IMHO Steve Jobs sacking was a mistake for Apple Inc way back when, but the real mistake and why PC's became the defacto standard was the ability for anyone to manufacture and sell compatibles. Disallowing the Apple IIe to be cloned, whilst serving there ideals at the time was strategic suicide and the market proved that until Apple came up with a better mouse trap (the iPod).

        Problem is that mousetrap is now irrelevant, old, ubiquitous via numerous other brands and devices and they need to come up with a newer mouse and mousetrap now.

        Have a great Christmas Wally to you and yours, don't let the wife control the egg-nog ;) and stay safe! Oh and a Happy New Mayan Calendar.. ;)

         

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          Wally (profile), Dec 21st, 2012 @ 9:19am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Oh and IMHO Steve Jobs sacking was a mistake for Apple Inc way back when, but the real mistake and why PC's became the defacto standard was the ability for anyone to manufacture and sell compatibles. Disallowing the Apple IIe to be cloned, whilst serving there ideals at the time was strategic suicide and the market proved that until Apple came up with a better mouse trap (the iPod). "

          Apple's failure on the first part (after firing Steve Hobs) was poor godawful management, and there inability to at least allow better compatibility for third party upgrades and custom configurations. Gassé and Schiler had a terrible mindset to expand heavily on product and only upgrade on a tiered level of upgrades. The biggest mistake in that model was allowing clones to be produced that were not only better than the first party machines were manufactured by Apple, but were a lot cheaper at the higher end. Most notable clone company was PowerComputing Corporation. They were the first that allowed for mail order of custom, hand written specs on the machines they sold. This saved the consumer a lot of money and PowerComputing had more revenue than Apple by the end of its run.

          Some of the IIe clones (most notably the Brazilian Unitron computer) were deemed illegal because the actual Apple IIe ROM chips were put on the board.

          The only reason why Steve Jobs streamlined and cut the cloning program was to keep the company afloat.

          Merry Christmas to you and yours as well G. Thompson. May God bless you and help you have a merry New Year as well :-)

           

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      DannyB (profile), Dec 21st, 2012 @ 6:49am

      Re:

      Android may be to smartphones what Windows is to the desktop, but Android is no monopoly. Android is open source. If Google were to disappear today (Dec 21, 2012 end of the world) Android would continue.

      Google may exert some leverage on OEMs through their exclusive apps (Maps, GMail, Calendar, Contacts, Drive, etc), but that does not constitute a monopoly, just an incentive to work with a particular company.

      The beauty of Android, like Linux and much other open source is that nobody is totally in absolute control.

      Apple could have chosen to license the iOS, but that would have meant OEMs would have made phones that offend Apple's sense of style. But that offense is what makes Android great. If you look at the cars on the road, they are not all clones of the One True Car anymore than looking at the cellphones of everyone in the room are clones of the One True Phone (excepting for iPhone users). Having phones, like cars, come in every conceivable size, shape, color style, feature combination and price is a good thing. Don't let Apple *cough* fragmentation *cough* tell you otherwise. Diversity with compatibility is good. Look at desktop computers. Look at biological species. Look at toasters and coffee makers.

       

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        Wally (profile), Dec 21st, 2012 @ 9:35am

        Re: Re:

        It just depends on what your business platform is. Google is a software company and can continually to afford to license their Android OS to smart phone manufacturers much in the same way Microsoft did with MS-DOS and Windows for x86 PC compatibles.

        Apple, as many seem to forget, is a Software/Hardware business where the proverbial mousetrap that fragmentation is a tad more twitchy when you license out your software designed for your computer systems to a third party to sell. Anyone who knows the upgrade process for the Apple Mac Performa platform will tell you that it got confusing as to which products had what upgrade capabilities and how far you could upgrade them. In some cases, the processor upgrade required replacing the entire motherboard.

        Short Version:

        Google doesn't manufacture for HTC, Samsung, or any other companies. It sells their OS to them like Microsoft does for PC's.

        Apple designs their own hardware and software and needs to keep our third party hardware platforms (clones) in order to stay afloat and to maximize profit for the business model they have chosen.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2012 @ 5:05pm

    Apple is facing some serious competition from some unknown entities.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/08/canalys_q3_china_apple_sixth_place/

     

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    Nathan F (profile), Dec 20th, 2012 @ 5:42pm

    "We shouldn't be handing out massive monopolies, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, based on the arbitrary judgment of some random patent examiner, when it appears that there is no objective standard at all, but rather a series of (historically bad) guesses. That's no way to build an innovative economy."

    "Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony."

    I see what you did there... :)

     

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    Wally (profile), Dec 20th, 2012 @ 6:37pm

    Damages

    I am not sure if this changes any damages. I'm not surprised that this feature was rejected upon reexamination, but now that the patent is found to be invalid, Apple's only option at that point is to appeal to the USPTO at this point.

    Samsung has dropped its litigations against Apple concerning FRAND in the EU recently as well due to antitrust issues in the EU brought to Samsung.

    Honestly this whole mess is getting old. I don't care who you are, or whose side you're on. I'm tired of these two companies litigating against each other.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2012 @ 4:38am

      Re: Damages

      [looks at Wally's comment]

      Wait, what?! No rabid defense of Apple or their now invalidated patent?! THE END IS NIGH!!! THE END IS NIGH!!!

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2012 @ 5:29am

        Re: Re: Damages

        He finally realises its impossible to defend the indefensible.

         

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          Wally (profile), Dec 21st, 2012 @ 9:39am

          Re: Re: Re: Damages

          No, I've realized this all along. Most of the time some scouser not read the rest of what I said beyond the word "Apple" and took me for a fanboy when my message clearly stated in context that bullying a bully doesn't solve the problem.

           

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      •  
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        Wally (profile), Dec 21st, 2012 @ 9:52am

        Re: Re: Damages

        Well, when you pinch a spread out piece of elastic cloth on a table and then pinch it, it makes the cloth look smaller. When you expand your fingers on said pinched object, it expands back to normal or stretches to look bigger. That gesture used to control the zoom in or out on a touch screen was actually quite unique when the iPhone came out in 2007.

        The patent may be invalid but it should be noted this isn't the first time Apple has implemented the so called "Every day human element" in their products. The trash can icon for storing files needing to be deleted upon reboot or at the user's command was first seen in the Macintosh in 1984. They basically had to look at the desk they were working on to get the basics of the Mac OS GUI down.

         

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    identicon
    MrWilson, Dec 20th, 2012 @ 6:47pm

    "We already know that so many patents are written broadly, and in a somewhat indecipherable manner, such that they can be applied broadly."

    You mean like the patent I just filed: "a thing or things that may or may not do something."

    Now everyone owes me for anything they have ever done.

    Back off man, I'm "innovating" here!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2012 @ 7:20pm

    Given the amount of money sometimes at stake, I'm a little surprised the patent office has (apparently) stayed so clean, revolving door to the patent bar aside.

    It seems like a site that could attract a lot of lobbying money -- perhaps more on the big pharma "marketing to doctors" model than flat out bribery. Don't patent examiners need industry-sponsored professional education seminars in Fiji?

     

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    Andrew D. Todd, Dec 20th, 2012 @ 7:23pm

    Towards a Patent Re-Examination Nuclear War.

    Maybe patent examiners are lazy, or maybe they aren't real bright, or maybe they just aren't given enough time to work on a given patent. What it comes down to is that they don't really look very hard for prior art, and the patent applicant, naturally, doesn't show them any more than he has to. So... an easy patent. In patent re-examination, the process works the other way. The appealing party cites real specific prior art, and shows how it fits in under a recent Supreme Court decision, such as KSR v. Teleflex, with an expansive view of Immediate Obviousness, and the patent examiner would have to be highly creative in dreaming up double-talk to avoid the reasoning. It may be inevitable that the Patent Office will grant bad patents, but it is becoming apparent that that the Patent Office is almost equally willing to vacate those bad patents in Re-Examination. The moral is to file for re-examination early and often, and to carry it to the point where patent examiners spend maybe ninety percent of their time doing re-examinations.

    Anyone who wants to can file a re-examination request (there is no "standing" requirement), and lawyers can be used as anonymous cut-outs. So if unidentified people start filing large numbers of requests against Apple's patents, Apple will not be able to know if the requests are coming from IBM, or Microsoft, or Samsung, or Google, or Facebook, or Amazon, or... All they will be able to determine is that there is someone out there who doesn't like them. Apple management will become progressively paranoid. Hopefully, Apple will lash out, in its turn, against the patents of all the other corporations. Once the process gets going, everyone will start filing re-examination requests against patents belonging to the major trolls: Intellectual Venture, Interval Licensing, etc. Once a "Patent Re-Examination Nuclear War" starts, it will tend to take out everyone who might be a threat. A million or so Requests for Re-Examination ought to clear off most of the bad patents.

    To Out of the Blue, #3:

    Source code is often a working model (for purely logical processes, at least, as distinct from thermodynamic processes), and it can be published as part of a patent. I would add that certain types of CAD/CAM files are also source code. A binary file can be incorporated into a printed patent by being expressed in barcodes, QR codes, or other "glyphs." The basic test of whether source code is a model is whether it compiles (and link-edits) or not. If it compiles, it's a model (though not necessarily a working one). If it doesn't compile, it's merely an (ambiguous) verbal description. Now, of course, it has been argued (theory of computation) that software is math, and, as such, un-patentable. The real issue with working models is that deliberately vague descriptions do not compile. They keep giving "unresolved reference" messages, or the equivalent.

    To Wally, #9:

    I would argue, rather whimsically, that the Navy's Aegis electronics system, fitted in California and Virginia class cruisers in the 1970's, probably constitutes a smart-phone, among other things. Granted, the whole affair required a couple of nuclear reactors developing 100,000 hp to push a 10,000 ton ship around at "30+ knots", but that doesn't differ in principle from something you put in your pocket. Some people have bigger pockets than others.

     

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      Wally (profile), Dec 20th, 2012 @ 7:46pm

      Re: Towards a Patent Re-Examination Nuclear War.

      Is it safe to say that Apple improved the Aegis system by making it pocket-sized? I enjoyed the whimsical argument :-)

       

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        Andrew D. Todd, Dec 20th, 2012 @ 9:00pm

        Re: Re: Towards a Patent Re-Examination Nuclear War.

        Well, the thing is that Apple didn't do the work of making anything pocket-sized. Apple never had a chip fab, to my knowledge. It bought its circuit technology, first from Motorola, then from IBM, then from Intel, and then it bought ARM chips, designed by the British design firm ARM, but manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company.

        TSMS's chief rivals are Intel, Global Foundries (late AMD), ON Semiconductor (Motorola), Samsung, National Semiconductor, United Microelectronics Corporation (Taiwanese government spin-off), NXP Semiconductors (ex Phillips), Texas Instruments, etc., etc.

        Really, what is notable is the persistence, sometimes under new names after spin-offs, of companies which were major electronics component producers in 1965. Some companies dropped out, because they couldn't raise the capital for the next generation of fab, but the survivors become more and more similar. Each company did the obvious things, like getting its wafer size up, and its feature size down, and its defect rate down, and evolving towards being like a jobbing printer, willing to print any chip design for whoever wants it. The goalposts were obvious, and they didn't make the kind of marketing mistakes which a consumer goods maker could make.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TSMC
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Semiconductor_Fabri cation_Plants

         

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          Wally (profile), Dec 20th, 2012 @ 9:47pm

          Re: Re: Re: Towards a Patent Re-Examination Nuclear War.

          The ARM architecture was never claimed as Apple's own. However, ARM licenses allow for the creation of your own chip designs. It's a RISC chipset. Companies design their own chips around ARM architecture. Apple designed their own system under the ARM architecture and had Samsung manufacture their chips.

          They used Motorola 68k processors in their computers, but the board layout was their own in accordance to the Architecture in use. This line competed directly with the Intel 286, 386, and 486 lines.

          The AIM (Apple IBM Motorola) alliance was created to compete with the Pentium chips of that time. Apple designed a few extra instruction sets and added them in on top of IBM's own PowerPC architecture. Motorola was responsible for manufacturing.

          Apple does a lot more work than you think. They just outsource the manufacturing to other comoanies in order to save manufacturing cost.

           

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            Andrew D. Todd, Dec 21st, 2012 @ 12:25pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Towards a Patent Re-Examination Nuclear War.

            Well, processor architecture improvements might get you 50%-100% improvement in performance per transistor. Moore's law, with improvement in the orders of magnitude, is something altogether different. It was Moore's Law that turned mind-bogglingly expensive military systems into things which everyone could afford. I once programed on a machine which had "core" memory, an IBM 1130, with hundreds of thousands of little ferrite doughnuts strung on wires to make up the princely sum of 32 Kbytes. Someone had to string three different wires through each of those doughnuts.

            Moore's Law worked out in practice to people devising ways to get purer silicon, or to build a more precise camera to apply patterns to a photo-sensitive layer on a wafer, and things like that. That's the kind of stuff which Apple was simply not involved in.

             

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              Wally (profile), Dec 21st, 2012 @ 5:01pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Towards a Patent Re-Examination Nuclear War.

              Moore's law only applies to the computing power. Most ARM standard processors are RISC based CPU's and have no more than 32,000 transistors in them. This allows for power saving at higher clock speeds in a hugely compact platform.


              Apple may not have been involved in creating the first processor on a silicon chip, but it still designs their own ARM chips for iDevices.

              I'm not saying that Apple was absolute first, I'm simply pointing out the raised the bar in the cell phone industry.

               

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                identicon
                Andrew D. Todd, Dec 24th, 2012 @ 2:12am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Towards a Patent Re-Examination Nuclear War.

                For some time, processor chips have had vastly more on-chip memory than anything else, either as on-chip memory per se, or as cache, which comes to much the same thing. Once the clock is going at 2 Ghz or more, having to go off-chip for a memory access is a serious handicap, and it is correspondingly important to avoid same. For practical purposes, performance is a matter of Moore's Law.

                About twenty years ago, I heard the arguments for RISC, as against CISC, and didn't really find them very compelling. At that time, software was mostly closed-source, and RISC seemed like a formula for buying all-new software to replace what one already had.

                 

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    leibusini (profile), Dec 21st, 2012 @ 1:52am

    In fact, there are a lot of Apple and Samsung patent disputes

     

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    identicon
    staff, Dec 21st, 2012 @ 8:46am

    more dissembling by Masnick

    All you know about patents is you don't have any.

    It's not about the patents that are granted that hurts the economy. It's the ones that aren't.

    As to the quality of patents; based on court rulings of the last several years, roughly half of all litigated patents are upheld in court. That's pretty balanced and suggests there is no problem with patent quality. Further, seldom do cases ever make it to trial as the parties settle out of court. The facts do not support the contention that there is a patent quality issue. Still, with almost half a million patent applications filed each year a few are bound to be issued that shouldn't. However, rarely are they ever an issue because you can't enforce them without money and you wont get the money unless you have a good patent. Keep in mind it costs the patent holder about as much in a patent suit as it does the accused infringer. Investors are not stupid. If they don't have confidence in your patent, they will not invest. It's that simple. Bad patents do not get funded.

    Masnick and his monkeys have an unreported conflict of interest-
    https://www.insightcommunity.com/cases.php?n=10&pg=1

    They sell blog filler and "insights" to major corporations including MS, HP, IBM etc. who just happen to be some of the world’s most frequent patent suit defendants. Obviously, he has failed to report his conflicts as any reputable reporter would. But then Masnick and his monkeys are not reporters. They are hacks representing themselves as legitimate journalists receiving funding from huge corporate infringers. They cannot be trusted and have no credibility. All they know about patents is they don’t have any.

    http://truereform.piausa.org/default.html#pt.

     

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      John Fenderson (profile), Dec 21st, 2012 @ 12:26pm

      Re: more dissembling by Masnick


      It's not about the patents that are granted that hurts the economy. It's the ones that aren't


      This comment needs further elaboration. It's not obvious why this would be true.

      As to the quality of patents; based on court rulings of the last several years, roughly half of all litigated patents are upheld in court. That's pretty balanced and suggests there is no problem with patent quality.


      Wait, wait wait...

      Half of all patents tested in court are found invalid? In what sense is that a good record that indicates there's no problem with patent quality?

      To my mind, that's a truly dismal record and a scathing indictment of patent quality.

      Further, seldom do cases ever make it to trial as the parties settle out of court.


      This is absolutely irrelevant to the question of patent quality.

      Investors are not stupid. If they don't have confidence in your patent, they will not invest.


      But the only confidence that investors care about is the ability to collect royalties on a patent. That ability is only tangentially related to the validity of the patent. Investor interest is, therefore, not much of an indication of patent quality.

      They are hacks representing themselves as legitimate journalists receiving funding from huge corporate infringers.


      Ignoring the unsupported insults here, please point to me anywhere where a TD writer has represented himself as a journalist, legitimate or otherwise.

       

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    identicon
    Frank Bartels, Dec 21st, 2012 @ 9:02am

    Example of NTP Patent Trolling

    You wrote:

    For example, in one of the most famous patent trolling cases, RIM paid out $612.5 million to NTP...

    What planet are you on? NTP had (intellectual) property e.g. a patent and RIM decided to homestead a business on that property without first checking to see if it were owned by anyone. How is that trolling? Then once the rightful owner informed RIM that it was trespassing they refused to vacate. NTP presented them with a reasonable offer to remain on the property and RIM's Pirates e.g. lawyers thought they could steal something they didn't own. They did this because they were stronger financially and thought they could out last NTP. When the sheriff rode into town, e.g. the law, to settle the issue RIM was then caught CHEATING, e.g. faking evidence in court. Boy was the Judge mad. Go back and read the facts. If NTP had settled in the beginning it would have cost them next to nothing. Pure arrogance on the part RIM. By the way, remember they are a Canadian company. The bottom line for CEOs to remember is that patents are property, so don't go homesteading without first checking title. If someone else owns that property then move on to another that hasn't been claimed. Patent trolling isn't the problem it is corporate stealing without giving it a second thought. I personally think If those CEOs and corporate boards that make the decision to take what is not theirs even after notified were given prison time the perceived problem would go away quickly.

     

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      Wally (profile), Dec 21st, 2012 @ 5:09pm

      Re: Example of NTP Patent Trolling

      "What planet are you on? NTP had (intellectual) property e.g. a patent and RIM decided to homestead a business on that property without first checking to see if it were owned by anyone."

      That is legally the fault of the contractor who built the building, not RIM. Something similar happened to my family with a lakefront property where a house was built on it by another property owner. The contractor goofed but due to eminent domain issues the owner of the building got the property. He gave us his old property, but was not legally obligated to do so.

       

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    Jignesh Padhiyar, Jan 3rd, 2013 @ 4:51am

    How funnier can it get for the spectators.

    Apple gets patent on as generic ideas as rounded corners and doesn't get patents on as specific and authentically-owned ideas like pinch-to-zoom. I hope that 2013 brings a real change in how the patent thing works because we're going to have a lot brewing this year in patent litigations. Besides the usual troll stuff, there's a lot of complexity. Judge Lucy Koh's workload extends up to 2014 on just one of the few cases her team handles. And it's clearly frustrating too. It's also clear that companies aren't going to resort to morality when it comes to patenting their ideas whether or not they're going to implement it. That would be catastrophic for future companies that might be on the verge of producing something really good but hampered by all these licenses and stuff.

     

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


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