Apple Loses Patent Lawsuit... Over Playlists

from the yeah,-that's-innovation dept

East Texas is famous for its patent lawsuits, and even though the Federal Circuit had suggested in the past that district courts be more willing to transfer patent cases out of East Texas, companies keep coming up with tricks to stay in East Texas. Take, for example, the company Personal Audio. Despite not actually being based in East Texas, the company set up "offices" in East Texas two months before suing Apple and others over two patents (6,199,076 and 7,509,178) concerning music players, where playlists can be pushed to the players.

Those new offices had no employees and just so happened to be "based" in the same offices as their patent attorneys (shocking coincidence, I'm sure). But, because of that, the case was allowed to stay in East Texas.

And... of course, there's a reason why they wanted it in East Texas. Because Personal Audio has been awarded $8 million from Apple for those patents. It's not a huge ruling, of course (which might also suggest a reason for Apple to just pay up, rather than appeal), but it's yet another example of the problems of the patent system today.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2011 @ 1:21am

    It's always good to see the legal system, effectively complicit in shake downs, brings the law into such repute.

     

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  2.  
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    mike allen (profile), Jul 20th, 2011 @ 2:26am

    I guess they did it before Apple sued them claiming the same patent.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2011 @ 2:46am

    Alright! Someone extorted 8 million dollars because they came up with something obvious and were the first ones to put it on paper (because everyone else was too busy actually working to take the time to put on a paper what every programmer worth his salt would be able to do in a week).

    Yay for innovation!

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2011 @ 3:56am

    Playlist = File

    A playlist is a file. How does it get to be non-obvious that a file can be transferred from one device to another? Fifty years ago, we used to make files in the form of decks of cards (using a card punch) and transfer them to the computer, where they would be read. Transferring files from one device to another has piles of prior art from a very long time ago. Yet, some crook has been paid 8 million for telling a whole bunch of lies.

    What next? Is someone going to patent the power switch? The patent system has gone completely mad.

     

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  5.  
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    Svante Jorgensen (profile), Jul 20th, 2011 @ 4:00am

    Poor Apple

    It is kind of hard to feel sorry for Apple with all it's own ridiculous patent claims. By their own logic, they absolutely owe Personal Audio 8 million dollars.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2011 @ 4:20am

    Re: Playlist = File

    "What next? Is someone going to patent the power switch? The patent system has gone completely mad."

    Close. Microsoft patented OS shutdown.

    See, for example:

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/09/01/1456235/Microsoft-Patents-OS-Shutdown

     

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  7.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Jul 20th, 2011 @ 4:40am

    No support for your non-sequitor assertion:

    "yet another example of the problems of the patent system today". -- You just rule out that Apple /could have/ infringed because /patents are evil/.

    To jump to end of the obvious chain of reasoning: your notions -- EVEN IF CORRECT -- just plain don't take human nature into account, and so you come up short. People will always try to get easy money.

    Yes, lawyers game the system by shopping for venues. They're /lawyers/, Mike, trained blood suckers.

    Yes, patents are mostly idiotic. -- I've given my solution: require working physical models, automatically rules out software.

    But mainly, there's no "good" side to take: Apple is just another corporation that's as criminal as they dare to be. Apple "stole" a BSD Unix for their OS, or they wouldn't have one at all able to compete. It's possible to STEAL from the public domain, because Apple is NOT the public, has NO right to use public property: it's a corporation that exists only by permission.

    The solution is to limit BOTH lawyers and corporations, before they ruin the system for we the people.

     

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  8.  
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    abc gum, Jul 20th, 2011 @ 4:49am

    Another shining example of a broken patent system which does not even follow their own rules.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2011 @ 4:54am

    Re: No support for your non-sequitor assertion:

    "Apple "stole" a BSD Unix for their OS"

    [Citation needed]

    Mac Os X is based around the Mach kernel, as are many other Os's (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mach_kernel).

    I agree with your sentiment (corporations are scum) but get your facts straight, or you'll just end up looking like a nut.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2011 @ 4:57am

    Re: No support for your non-sequitor assertion:

    Actually, Apple didn't "steal" BSD, because it's impossible to do so. Nor is BSD in the public domain -- please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BSD_licenses, which reads in part: "The BSD License allows proprietary use, and for the software released under the license to be incorporated into proprietary products. Works based on the material may be released under a proprietary license or as closed source software. This is the reason for widespread use of the BSD code in proprietary products, ranging from Juniper Networks routers to Mac OS X."

    Those of us who have contributed to BSD have done so with this license in mind -- that is, we are fully aware that anyone who wishes to may use BSD, within the terms of the license, and thus may use our work as part of that.

    This is not to say that I'm entirely pleased with Apple: I'm not. But that is a separate matter from whether or not they are in compliance with the BSD license, and to the best of my knowledge, they ARE in compliance.

     

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  11.  
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    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Jul 20th, 2011 @ 5:21am

    East Texas has an average IQ of 58 (peak of 72)

    So that explains all the patent case outcomes there. As long as they are allowed to continue propagating stupidity in the guise of trials, this sort or nonsense will continue unabated. I'd bet the judges and/or jurors in these case all drive some mighty fine bling-mobiles now, too.

     

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  12.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Jul 20th, 2011 @ 5:58am

    Re: No support for your non-sequitor assertion:

    As an 'example of the problems with the patent system today', this post and its conclusion is not a non-sequitor. If you enumerated the problems that have been discussed on this site, you'd see 'venue shopping' as one of them. Thus, this is an example of one of the problems.

    You pointing out that Apple could have infringed is a non-sequitor in and of itself. The point of the article was that from the first paper being filed to the gavel banging on the judge's bench, this has been a sham. This company went out of their way to keep this suit in Texas even though there is nothing about the whole thing that has anything to do with Texas. At all. Nadda. Zero.

    And the info you put up about Apple stealing stuff for OS? Really not sure how that fits into this at all. So… yeah. Non-Sequitor Pot, meet Non-Sequitor Kettle.

     

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  13.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Jul 20th, 2011 @ 5:59am

    Innovation at last!

    Hey, at least they exercised innovation in their campaign to find new and inventive ways to keep this suit in Texas! See? Silver lining! /sarc

     

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  14.  
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    Nicedoggy, Jul 20th, 2011 @ 6:15am

    Re: Re: No support for your non-sequitor assertion:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XNU

    Apple's OSX is an hybrid kernel(Mach and BSD) posix compliant.

     

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  15.  
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    Old Fool (profile), Jul 20th, 2011 @ 6:19am

    $8,000,000 omg! That's like 30 mins earnings from Apple!

    How will they cope I wonder....

     

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  16.  
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    BongoBern (profile), Jul 20th, 2011 @ 6:19am

    Texas has its own reality

    I think that's where everything goes to be executed.

     

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  17.  
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    Thomas (profile), Jul 20th, 2011 @ 6:26am

    I keep wondering..

    if the judges and juries in East Texas get a commission or percentage of the award? Does the judge get a higher percentage? Who pays the commission? The attorneys? the winning company?

     

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  18.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jul 20th, 2011 @ 6:51am

    Re:

    I was thinking it was more the cost of the special-edition iPad2, complete with platinum casing and gold wiring. Just give one of them away, and POOF! Instant customer!

     

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  19.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Jul 20th, 2011 @ 7:12am

    WOW!

    When $8 MILLION is not a huge ruling, I realize just how bad this country has gotten... When enough money for a family of 4 to live comfortably off of for their whole life is not even enough for a large corporation to make a fuss over, I think something has to give.

     

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  20.  
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    staff, Jul 20th, 2011 @ 12:27pm

    rubbish

    So you've been mugged. Are you going to sue your mugger in a venue where you know it will take years to get to trial and he will keep mugging you in the interim, or where you will get a speedy trial? But then some like being mugged -go figure.

    If Apple doesn't pay to to write this rubbish, they should.

     

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  21.  
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    patent litigation, Jul 25th, 2011 @ 7:44pm

    no surprise

    When patent trolls regularly collect triple the amount of damages awarded to practicing entities in patent litigation, it is certainly no surprise that more NPEs (non-practicing entities, or "patent trolls") are springing up and becoming ever more aggressive. They have everything to gain and relatively little to lose by filing patent enforcement actions. I fear that the only way to minimize the threat that PAEs pose to small businesses is by eliminating their incentives to assert patents -- i.e., by limiting the damages that they can collect. In the meantime, you can't really blame a company like Personal Audio for taking advantage of weaknesses in the legal system.

     

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  22.  
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    Souvik, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 7:23am

    Steve's Biography

    Even though I doubt that the biography will ever get entered as evidence it may still be used by a creative lawyer to influence a jury. "Apple thought that google was "stealing" from them and was ready to spend 40 billion to get back at Google. How much do you think that they should pay for stealing from my client." I am not a lawyer, so maybe this will never happen.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2014 @ 1:31am

    Re: Playlist = File

    my patent for the power switch is in the approval stage right now :)

     

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


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