Google Goes On The Offensive Against Troll Armed With Old Mp3 Player Patent

from the Creative-Labs-forcing-its-way-back-into-the-market dept

It wasn't enough that Creative Labs/Creative Technology spent March 24th suing almost every big name in the cell phone business for patent infringement. These lawsuits, all filed in the East Texas patent troll playground, asserted the same thing: that any smartphone containing a music app (which is every smartphone produced) violates the patent it was granted in 2005 to use in conjunction with its mp3 players. "Venue is proper" because smartphones are sold in Texas, even if the plaintiffs are located in California and Singapore, respectively.

That wasn't all Creative Technology did. It also filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission seeking to block the import of smartphones from manufacturers like Sony, LG, BlackBerry, Samsung, etc. under the theory that every imported phone contains patent-infringing software. The ITC has opened an investigation of Creative's allegations, which will at least hold off any potential import blocks until it reaches a decision. The ITC's summary of Creative's patent claims clearly shows how broad the patent's potential coverage is -- and (inadvertently) why it should be invalidated.

The products at issue in the investigation are portable electronic devices, such as smart phones, with the capability of playing stored media files selected by a user from a hierarchical display.
Creative Labs started its patent war early, suing Apple back in 2006 for "violating" its patent with its iPods. Apple ultimately settled with Creative for $100 million -- not only encouraging Creative's trolling ways but also moving Apple towards more aggressive acquisition (and defense) of patents, even for something truly obvious like "rounded corners."

Google has decided it's not going to wait around for the ITC or east Texas courts to come to the wrong conclusions. It's gone on the offensive, seeking declaratory judgment that it does not violate Creative's broad patent. Every company sued by Creative on March 24th sells Android phones that contain Google's "Play Music" app. On behalf of its customers (and its own Motorola Mobility, which was also sued), Google wants Creative's BS patent's power neutered.
No version of the Google Play Music app directly or indirectly infringes any claim of the ’433 patent. No third party infringes any claim of the ’433 patent by using the Google Play Music app in other devices. Google has not caused, directed, requested, or facilitated any such infringement, and has not had any specific intent to do so. The Google Play Music app is not designed for use in any combination that would infringe any claim of the ’433 patent. Rather, the Google Play Music app has substantial uses that do not infringe any claim of the ’433 patent.

[...]

An actual and justiciable controversy therefore exists between Google and Creative regarding whether the Google Play Music app infringes or has infringed the ’433 patent. A judicial declaration is necessary to determine the respective rights of the parties regarding the ’433 patent. Google seeks a judgment declaring that the Google Play Music app does not directly or indirectly infringe any claim of the ’433 patent.
Creative is asking for a substantial payout for something as obvious as selecting and adding songs to a playlist. The claim specified in its lawsuits is this one:
The method of selecting a track as recited in claim 1 wherein the accessing at least one track comprises selecting an item in the third display screen and adding at least one track associated with the selected item to a playlist.
If Google's receives a judgment in its favor, it will at least protect the cell phone manufacturers from having to deal with claims related to its "Music Play" app. For all of those that load their own music apps on their phones (which, again, is all of them), they're still on their own when it comes to fending off Creative's rent-seeking.

The market has changed and left Creative behind. Back when it sued Apple, it at least had a competing mp3 player on the market. Now, it has nothing even remotely related to smartphones, but still thinks it's entitled to a cut of those profits because it made music players once upon a time. And it's so desperate to leech off viable companies that it's willing to abuse more than a friendly district court to achieve its ends.




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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 20 May 2016 @ 8:05pm

    We ignored all of this until we decided they had enough money we could shake out of them.

    East Texas needs to be nuked from space, stupid patents need to be ended, but perhaps the simplest fix would be capping "damages" after oh say 5 years at .000001% & allow them to keep using it.

    End the amazing snapping up of patents and lawyers seeking ways to apply them to things seeking payments.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 20 May 2016 @ 11:53pm

      Re:

      Simply getting rid of venue shopping would get rid of most of this rubbish. If companies knew they'd actually have to argue the case on the merits, instead of just filing in E. Texas, going to court and saying 'We have a patent that they might infringe on, make them give us money' I imagine most of them wouldn't even bother.

      It's one thing to shake others down when you know you can stack the deck in your favor by simply filing in a certain location, quite another when the playing field is a little more even.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2016 @ 3:59am

      Re:

      Cut them some slack. They were so busy inventing new and innovative stuff, that they hadn't heard of smartphones until now.
      But as soon as they did they got right on it!

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

    • identicon
      Zem, 22 May 2016 @ 12:25am

      Re:

      No No save East Texas. That way we know where they all are.

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

  • icon
    flyinginn (profile), 20 May 2016 @ 8:29pm

    Depressing but it shows the evolution of an interesting company from startup with the first PC sound boards and a handful of people, to a wide range of neat audio gizmos, to stagnation, irrelevance and patent trolling. Patent trolling is a bit like the end game for a star - a black hole for those too big to shrivel into a dismal burnt-out red dwarf. The real end for Creative was probably its sell-off of 3DLabs which took it out of the SOC and tablet market.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2016 @ 4:05am

      Re:

      I loved my SB cards. But the last one I had was circa 2000 and I kept using it for as long as I used XP, despite the fact that Creative provided abysmal driver support for it. That was always my only problem with them: awful drivers.
      It kept me from moving on to any of their superfluous, overpriced cards after I no longer could use the one I had, just because there were no drivers for it.
      I still use a 5.1 Speaker set of theirs that must be more than 10yo at this point. They had good stuff.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 21 May 2016 @ 2:28pm

      Re:

      Creative Labs has been (ahem) a bit overeager in their infringement suits for pretty much their entire existence. Before patents, it was sketchy trademark suits.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 May 2016 @ 8:31pm

    East Texas needs to be nuked from space
    Just drop a big rock a la "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress." Real clean afterwards.

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

  • identicon
    The Dark One, 20 May 2016 @ 8:35pm

    Too Funny...

    Considering that I wrote up the specs for a "digital music storage and playing device" back in the mid 80s, I'd say that everyone in the digital music storage / player market owes me big time.

    I've got the notebooks with the specs, using a technology that was being touted at the time in Omni magazine where a sugar cube sized piece of organic crystal could store about 12 terabytes of data. What's really funny is that the internet didn't exist at the time, so music would have been purchased at a kiosk in a local mall, would be encrypted per device, locked down by a pin selected by the owner. If the memory was stolen or lost, buy a replacement memory device and all music purchased would be re-downloaded to the new module. The old module would be destroyed if the "thief" tried to use it.
    The memory device would have been capable of being used in home stereos, portable music devices, car stereos, etc...

    Again, this was back around 1983/1984.

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

    • identicon
      The Dark One, 20 May 2016 @ 8:36pm

      Re: Too Funny...

      Sorry, "the internet didn't exist at the time" should have read "the internet didn't exist as it does today back at that time" - just to be accurate.

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

      • identicon
        Skeeter, 20 May 2016 @ 9:03pm

        Re: Re: Too Funny...

        Wow, talk about 'revised history'! Hate to break it to you, but I was surfing the HTML Internet in 1995. Back up and punt again on your 'the internet didn't exist at that time', there was already music showing up online by then.

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Skeeter, 20 May 2016 @ 9:07pm

      Re: Too Funny...

      So, what you are saying is, that you have nothing but your word and some notebooks claiming the 'urban legend' of crystal lattice storage, dated to 1984? How exactly, does this compare to the story which discusses A PATENT that by law, SHOULD protect the registered owner of said patent from TROLLS (aka Google, in this case, NOT Creative Labs)?

      See, this story is spin to make the Pirate (aka Google) look like the victim, and the PATENT OWNER (aka Creative Labs) look like the bad guy. My, my, my, what a mixed up world we live in.

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

  • icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 20 May 2016 @ 8:40pm

    Rounded corners... How the heck is that obvious? I've always preferred squared off edges, razor sharp, with spikes at the corners!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 May 2016 @ 8:50pm

    Google shouldn't bother. This is the part of the book where Creative's executives find out what 'zaibatsu negotiator' really means.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Skeeter, 20 May 2016 @ 9:00pm

    Patent Trolling - or First Owner?

    I really dislike 'mega-corp-world' and true 'trolls' who try to squat things like URLS, etc.; but then again, if you are the rightful owner, Google's stunt is a lot like the bank saying, 'yeah, so you bought your house in 2005, you aren't paying for it now, so we're taking ownership because, well, we can'.

    See, this 'name-slinging' of 'patent troll' doesn't apply when the Creative REALLY IS THE OWNER of the patent. Overly broad? Well, that's the nature of the beast of 'being first to market and patent'. Don't like it? WORK AROUND THE KEYSTONES, don't try to steal them because you are 'BIGGER AND BADDER' than the old guy who was there first. That's 'domination by size'. This is tantamount to Google telling you that they can make you buy X-brand computer or Y-brand clothes, because 'they are the biggest elephants in the room'.

    Why see it like this? Well, having paid between $10,000 and $17,500 for four different patents in my life, and having never sold them, paid to keep them current, and having gained income from leasing rights on them, I see them like you'd see a rental house you own. IT IS MY PROPERTY. You saying 'it serves the better interest' sounds just like 'imminent domain' does to someone getting their own house sent 'into condemnation' just so the rich can have their golf course on your prior property that you wouldn't sell them otherwise.

    When you see it for what it is, then you see it is nothing but the rich or powerful stealing under the 'I'm Bigger Than YOU' mandate. Plain, and simple.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 20 May 2016 @ 9:18pm

      Re: Patent Trolling - or First Owner?

      'Overly broad' is actually putting it very mildly, I'd probably go for 'Absurdly, ridiculously broad'. There is no 'working around the keystones' when the patent in question is basically 'any device that can play mp3's or videos and allows the user to choose tracks', so the only way for Google or other companies to avoid violating the patent(especially in 'patent' friendly East Texas) would be if they didn't sell any device capable of playing digital media unless the user had no control over what could be played.

      At all.

      This isn't some big mean companies stomping on the little guy, this is a company that made a product years back, others did it better, and rather than compete they've turned to shaking down anyone they could for as much as they can. I don't care how good their mp3 player was, they don't deserve to get a cut from every device that has the ability to play digital media(all of them at this point) just because at one point they sold a device that could do something similar.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 May 2016 @ 9:37pm

      Re: Patent Trolling - or First Owner?

      google is NOT claiming they didn't use it, they are claiming the actual claims of the patent do not apply to play music. no matter how the article reads, thats black and white,

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 May 2016 @ 10:06pm

      Re: Patent Trolling - or First Owner?

      You need a hug and some nice hot cocoa. Perhaps a big handful of Clozapine.

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

    • icon
      techflaws (profile), 21 May 2016 @ 4:21am

      Re: Patent Trolling - or First Owner?

      Overly broad? Well, that's the nature of the beast of 'being first to market and patent

      Bullshit! As so many others this patent shouldn't have been issued on the grounds that even back then what is covered was obvious.

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

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 May 2016 @ 7:33am

      Re: Patent Trolling - or First Owner?

      And the fact that they've never bothered to enforce these overly broad patents before now?
      If they are so far on the side of the angels, wouldn't they have acted sooner?
      If you found someone infringing on your patents would you wait 20 years to file?

      And Google is merely fighting back, they aren't the only company targeted.

      You almost are a decent shill, but stop pretending that what they claim today was something they created. They wedged a patent to fit something thats been around for a very long time and then had the gall to try block the import of devices to leverage faster settlements. They are trolls no matter what you want to claim.

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

      • icon
        Mat (profile), 21 May 2016 @ 4:12pm

        Re: Re: Patent Trolling - or First Owner?

        So, this applies to any consumer device that allows someone to make a playlist or otherwise control the track playing... I think an argument for prior art can be made: See Winamp, and any number of other pre-existing players.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2016 @ 2:49am

        Re: Re: Patent Trolling - or First Owner?

        "And the fact that they've never bothered to enforce these overly broad patents before now?
        If they are so far on the side of the angels, wouldn't they have acted sooner?
        If you found someone infringing on your patents would you wait 20 years to file?"


        "...violates the patent it was granted in 2005..."
        "Creative Labs started its patent war early, suing Apple back in 2006 for "violating"..."

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2016 @ 10:47am

      Re: Patent Trolling - or First Owner?

      IT IS MY PROPERTY. You saying 'it serves the better interest' sounds just like 'imminent domain' does to someone getting their own house sent 'into condemnation' just so the rich can have their golf course on your prior property that you wouldn't sell them otherwise.
      Yes, eminent domain can suck. So can analogies.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2016 @ 1:17pm

      Re: Patent Trolling - or First Owner?

      Being the first to market and being the first to patent are two different things. Also your nebulous diatribe doesn't seem to understand the definition of a patent troll. A patent troll does in fact hold the patents they are using to troll with.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2016 @ 2:17pm

        Re: Re: Patent Trolling - or First Owner?

        nebulous diatribe

        Thank you! I couldn't figure out what to call that style of writing, and that hits it on the head.

        Speaking of descriptive word combos, is there such a thing as an 'anarcho-authoritarian'? Because...

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2016 @ 1:36pm

      Re: Patent Trolling - or First Owner?

      Also IP is not about serving your alleged 'property rights'. IP is a privilege not a right. Its only purpose should be to promote the progress and serve a public interest. The misleading term 'copyright' was created by the same misleading shady people behind our existing IP laws showing what kinda shady people are behind our laws.

      It should also be noted that this is supposed to be a democracy. As such we ALWAYS have the right to complain about laws we disagree with. The 'nature of the beast' is exactly what we are criticizing here, the laws need to be changed.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2016 @ 4:32pm

        Re: Re: Patent Trolling - or First Owner?

        It should also be noted that we aren't siding with Google because they are 'big'. The major proponents and backers of IP laws are and have always overwhelmingly been large corporations but that's no reason to support bad IP laws.

        For instance large corporations have long been known to start astroturfing campaigns in favor of IP laws. However I don't remember masses of people protesting the streets in favor of IP laws to get our existing laws in place. I do remember big corporations being the ones to push for these laws in order to get them instated, expanded, and extended. I do remember masses of people protesting against things like SOPA.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 May 2016 @ 10:21pm

    Looks like I'll never purchase another Sound Blaster card in the future.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 May 2016 @ 11:11pm

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on May 20th, 2016 @ 10:21pm

      Yes, I remember when they made actual products that people wanted to buy. I feel old.

      This is yet another example, as if more were needed, why software patents are bad bad bad.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 May 2016 @ 10:38pm

    well lets be truthful

    you dont matter at all the rich will murder yiu without any thought. its the class war of the 7000 against the 7 billion and anyone in the army, police 3 letter agenceies is a treasonous murderer that is guilty of crimes against humanity. period murderer.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 May 2016 @ 10:40pm

    well

    mike is a collaberator thats been made clear when he gave up digger and lied about it

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

  • icon
    KeillRandor (profile), 20 May 2016 @ 11:47pm

    Three display screens?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous, 21 May 2016 @ 12:32am

    Prior art: the record button on the reel to reel tape deck which allowed me to insert a selected media into a sequence of media playback.

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

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 21 May 2016 @ 1:36am

    Creative Labs, the Atari/SEGA of the tech community

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Howard, 21 May 2016 @ 5:46am

    Sigh

    Companies gotta realise that they can't rest on their laurels.

    Yeah, you had a good idea one time, but what have you done for us lately?

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

    • identicon
      CL, 21 May 2016 @ 11:15am

      Re: Sigh

      ...what have you done for us lately?
      Please bear with us, as there are a lot of people to sue. We apologize for your wait, and we're litigating as fast as we can. For now, please enjoy this kick in the nads as a token of our appreciation.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2016 @ 7:24am

    New Egg sells mp3 players, too. Wonder why they didn't sue New Egg? Oh, wait. That's right.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2016 @ 7:25am

    Please. The current trial Google is in has already admitted that Google has copied code belonging to other companies. Saying that they don't infringe on patents and IP owned by other companies when its already been admitted to in emails ... LOLS

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

    • identicon
      DigDug, 21 May 2016 @ 8:40am

      Re:

      Have you even bothered to look up the definition of "API" before you spew false statements?

      APIs aren't "code"

      Application program interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications.

      An API specifies how software components should interact and APIs are used when programming graphical user interface (GUI) components, larger programs using libraries provided by the language being used, externally provided software / resource platforms such as google maps, google drive, google mail, yahoo finance, amazon cloud and storage.

      Without APIs, and without them being "free to use" no software would ever be able to communicate with software from another developer.

      Hell, without the ability to use APIs, Oracle wouldn't even exist.

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

      • icon
        KeillRandor (profile), 21 May 2016 @ 10:45pm

        Re: Re:

        The problem with API's being copywritable, is that no-one has used the correct 'analogy' to describe what they are and why they matter: how we describe the functionality of language itself.

        Imagine if noun/verb/adjective/adverb/subject/object/thing(s)/property of things etc. were copywritable in describing a language? This is what an API is, and for... That they become more complicated with computer code is not the issue...

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2016 @ 9:49am

      Re:

      You're a joke.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2016 @ 8:14am

    Software patents should not exist,
    if they do they should have a limited time span.
    theres probably prior art,to challenge this .
    this covers almost any phone that plays media files .
    in the usa being first to invent is not much use unless
    you file a patent .

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

  • icon
    Dave Cortright (profile), 21 May 2016 @ 8:22am

    Android phones no longer for sale in East TX

    If I were a business at risk of having a patent case filed in E TX, I would stop doing business in that jurisdiction. I would even add a clause to my EULA that states the device is not intended to be used in that jurisdiction and that doing so voids the warranty. There needs to be consequences to the actions of E TX courts, otherwise they won't change their bad behavior.

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

  • identicon
    intercoastal, 21 May 2016 @ 10:07am

    but. but, bb

    Nice try, Google

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

  • icon
    Hephaestus (profile), 21 May 2016 @ 2:20pm

    "with the capability of playing stored media files selected by a user from a hierarchical display"

    Troubling, in that a they are taking about
    1) a tree structure
    2) something that is so obvious to anyone that knows anything about programming, or has even glanced sideways at a GUI

    I was wondering if they also got patents on displaying other things in tree structure, or if we have other companies out their about to drop a huge set of lawsuits on every internet site.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2016 @ 2:37pm

      Re:

      Navigating and selecting from tree structures prelates GUIs, and dates back to the teletype era of computing, and includes the directory structure of Unix file systems.

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

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 21 May 2016 @ 3:53pm

        Re: Re:

        Strictly speaking, navigating and selecting from tree structures predates electronic computing entirely, arguably by at least 1,000 years, but certainly by 17th or 18th century.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2016 @ 11:08am

    Creative: we used to make popular PC soundcards, but we haven't had a viable product since 1998...waaaaa! give us the moneys!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2016 @ 11:10am

    I remember an episode of the simpsons where Springfield was designated the USA's 'nuclear whipping boy'.

    Nukes would be thrown at Springfield to test targetting capability before a nuclear war broke out....

    If this has ANY basis in reality, can we request that East Texas gets the designation instead?

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

  • icon
    ArkieGuy (profile), 23 May 2016 @ 7:17am

    I feel a Verge article coming on

    The Verge May 2016

    "Google throws Android manufacturers under the bus"....

    In breaking news, Google has thrown all Android manufactures under the bus by ONLY defending its "Google Play Music" product in a slam dunk patent lawsuit filed by the creator of computer audio Creative Labs against all Android manufactures.

    Google could have chosen to defend all of its manufactures by naming each of the manufacturers products, but instead chose to only defend its own product.

    This will have a huge impact on the Android market as now all manufacturers will have to re-think their selection of Android as opposed to other offerings like Windows Phone.

    Rumor has it that this huge misstep by Google has led Apple to consider licensing it's product line to offer manufacturers a totally stable, well rounded, inexpensive and patent impervious operating system option.

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


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