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Apple Wins Injunction Banning Import of HTC Devices

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the apple-knows-best dept.

Android 314

Newly accepted submitter squish18 writes "All Things D reports that Apple has won an injunction banning the import of some HTC phones starting in April 2012. The ruling by the ITC stems from two claims of the '647 patent concerning software used to enter personal data in mobile devices. It is interesting to note that the ITC has also reversed previous rulings regarding regarding infringement of two other '647 claims, as well as patent '263 claims." It looks like Apple's victory is relatively minor. They lost claims on all patents except for one, and HTC/Google can work on implementing similar functionality in a non-infringing way.

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314 comments

Evil Monopoly (4, Insightful)

YayaY (837729) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428578)

Apple is becoming an evil empire!

Re:Evil Monopoly (5, Insightful)

ClaraBow (212734) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428662)

NO! The patent system, as it stands, is the reason why every company seems to be suing every other company! It's completely broken, and it seems like companies have to sue each other as part of their operating procedures so they can have leverage when they negotiate cross-licensing! It's completely maddening!

Re:Evil Monopoly (5, Insightful)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428704)

have to

Nope. It's a choice. Apple is choosing to strangle the competition while they have the strong hand. Microsoft chooses to set up a protection racket with companies that infringe on their vaguely-defined Linux patents. In contrast, IBM and Google (generally?) don't pursue patent suits unless they're attacked first. (At least, that's the impression that's been put forth by tech journalism.)

Re:Evil Monopoly (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38428782)

Sure, companies are choosing to act the way they are, but the current patent system is incentivizing this behavior. The question should be whether there is a system with better incentives, not whether companies should stop doing what they are doing, because some companies will behave responsibly, but others invariably won't and you have to expect that behavior.

Re:Evil Monopoly (3, Interesting)

abhi_beckert (785219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429378)

Sure, companies are choosing to act the way they are, but the current patent system is incentivizing this behavior. The question should be whether there is a system with better incentives, not whether companies should stop doing what they are doing, because some companies will behave responsibly, but others invariably won't and you have to expect that behavior.

I'm not convinced any companies, even patent trolls, are truly acting irresponsibly. It's impossible to know if a patent is/isn't valid without going to court. And it's impossible to know if a patent is/isn't being infringed without going to court.

This leads to disagreements between patent holders and potential licensors about just how much should be paid in any licensing agreement, or whether any licensing fees should even be paid at all. To make matters worse, the courts are making stupid decisions all the time.

In my mind, this is a clear situation where we need to blame whoever wrote patent law in the first place for failing to predict the mess they created. And blame more recent government(s) for failing to do anything about it.

But how to solve it? That's the trillion dollar question.

Re:Evil Monopoly (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38429004)

Before:
Sun sued Microsoft over Java. Netscape sued Microsoft over Java. Apple sued Microsoft over the Windows UI.

Now:
Oracle is suing Google over Java. Apple is suing Google (through HTC) about several UI elements. Apple is suing Samsung over the tabled look and feel.

Who's the Evil? The inventor or the copy?

Re:Evil Monopoly (4, Informative)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429348)

Sun and Netscape sued Microsoft for antitrust violations. Oracle and Apple have sued over software patents. And Apple pretty much just sues everybody in the phone book, so that isn't really a bellwether of anything.

Re:Evil Monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38429008)

Bullshit. Corporations are profit-maximizing actors. You're a biologist, and you should know that game theory always wins out in the end. Corporations that have a culture that prohibits their using antisocial business methods are just out-competed by ones that have no such inhibitions. There's no element of choice at all. If you want to change corporate behavior, you must change corporate incentives. Anything else is dreaming.

Re:Evil Monopoly (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38429052)

It is like that Simpsons episode where they are in familty therapy and everyone is hooked up to electro-shock device so everyone can give each other shocks. These patent suits doesn't really do any substantial damage, they are just pressing the buttons because they are available(id est. the lawyers have been hired and it would look bad if they didn't sue someone).

Re:Evil Monopoly (1, Interesting)

abhi_beckert (785219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429282)

Nope. It's a choice. Apple is choosing to strangle the competition while they have the strong hand.

Which is something the patent system is specifically designed to encourage. The idea is to encourage entities just like Apple to spend billions of dollars researching some new technology, in full confidence they will be able to recover those billions of dollars in future by having a high profit margin on their product.

If someone else has the right to bring the same technology to the market with razor slim profit margins, then nobody will spend billions of dollars researching new technology.

Say what you want about Apple, they *do* spend billions researching new technology. And they should be allowed to recover that money.

Personally I'm not convinced the patent system is a net positive. But calling it an "evil monopoly" is a bit much I think.

In contrast, IBM and Google (generally?) don't pursue patent suits unless they're attacked first. (At least, that's the impression that's been put forth by tech journalism.)

I don't know anything about IBM, but Google seems to run around with their head in the sand until someone slaps them in the face with a patent lawsuit. They were told by their lawyers not to create Dalvik without a licensing agreement with Sun, but they ignored the advice. And now their getting their ass handed to them in court, because Sun/Oracle wants compensation for their inventions, and Google isn't making enough money off Dalvik to pay any reasonable sum.

Re:Evil Monopoly (2, Interesting)

ccalvert (126669) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429410)

The point is that Apple is suing HTC because they are using a map to pinpoint a location. I bet that in the last month, there have been a thousand courses taught in colleges and high schools that tell students how to pinpoint locations on maps. Why isn't Apple suing those community college profs instead of HTC?

Do I really need to answer that?

Who came up with mapping technology first? Was it perhaps Google Maps?

Re:Evil Monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38429356)

Yes, Apple is making a choice. The same choice that a drowning man makes in grasping the point of a knife. The Android phones have gained major market share and Apple is trying whatever it can to slow down the competition.

Apple is simply scared sh*tless.

Re:Evil Monopoly (4, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428796)

I find it completely incomprehensible that anyone in the software development field can defend Apple in any way, or buy or recommend any of their products with the attitude and behaviour they've had the last couple of years. Yes, they have some nice hardware, and used to be the underdog, but enough is enough. They need to be shown that it's not acceptable behaviour.

Re:Evil Monopoly (1, Insightful)

webdog314 (960286) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429244)

Do you seriously believe that if it wasn't Apple, it wouldn't be someone else? That's the epitome of naive.

The fact that they happen to currently be the biggest and baddest on the block means this shouldn't surprise you. Microsoft had its own form of evil, usually just stealing an idea from someone else and getting it to market first. That Apple uses a legal (if marginally unethical) method to do the same thing shouldn't even raise an eyebrow.

Apple is a company. They're in it for the money. Stop treating them like a person and this is all perfectly logical. HTC is a direct competitor. Why would Apple not do everything in its power to hinder or stop them from being a competitor?

Re:Evil Monopoly (4, Insightful)

sdguero (1112795) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429482)

I think what Apple has been doing in the courts recently goes far beyond "marginally unethical." I mean, the company is actively trying to stymie innovation in the mobile space, and this is after they have made BILLIONS of dollars off of other companies/peoples work (and much of their own hard work but that is beside the point). It is a public company, so being driven by profit and being too short sighted to recognize that they tarnishing the brand really isn't that rare or surprising. At this point, I only know one engineer worth his salt that is still on the iOS platform (out of dozens). Those that have jumped ship from Apple cite itunes, Apple's recent legal wrangling, and/or the flexibility of the Android environment (for users and developers) as their reasons for switching.

Maybe I'm just a weird case study but a year ago I could not of said that, and I don't think it bodes well for Apple when nerds are running from their platform. Just read the /. comments. The vast majority are negative regarding Apple's recent moves.

Re:Evil Monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38428830)

It's interesting how we have checks and balances in the different branches of government to help stop there from being too much power in one or another and to keep one from 'running the show' on everything...yet this same useful feature is entirely absent from the judicial system itself. There should be a limit because all these patent lawsuits are a malicious abuse of the system. Perhaps there should be a law set in place outlawing malicious use of the judicial system? --If there already isn't a law that's just being entirely ignored here. That could prevent such things from happening in the future because it's our tax dollars paying for those courts and considering all the tax breaks people with larger incomes and companies themselves get, this cost is on OUR dime more than anyone else's...

Re:Evil Monopoly (2)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428922)

so long as the case is resolved at some point, the costs are usually paid by the loser.

if a case draws out forever, both parties pay.

taxpayers are relatively protected from all this.

Re:Evil Monopoly (5, Insightful)

eparker05 (1738842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428754)

Essentially apple patented a method where an 'analyzer program' checks text for patterns (such as phone numbers and email addresses) and makes them actionable with a click.

The patent goes on to discuss that arbitrary patterns can be searched for using a plugin and that the analyzer software allows for users to select the program that handles the type of link. It seems that Android does indeed violate this patent in every way possible. I wonder if automatic hyperlinking of email addresses count as prior art; although this does not include the user interface element asking which program to use.

Either way; I think this is a sucky patent to have to contend with. It reminds me why I don't like software patents to begin with.

Re:Evil Monopoly (5, Insightful)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428938)

i believe word processing software does this with spell checkers.

the first example of a realtime spell checker i encountered in 1997 with MS Word.

autofill has been in all browsers since about that time as well.

google does the same as you type into the search box.

Apple are full of the worst kind of shit in this case.

Re:Evil Monopoly (5, Funny)

esocid (946821) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429366)

Yeah, but this patent adds "on a touchscreen device that makes calls and has rounded corners."

eh? eh?

Re:Evil Monopoly (1)

pdabbadabba (720526) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429442)

How many times do I have to say it? You can only patent a method of implementing a system, not just the idea of a system itself. Take a moment, click the link in the summary to the actual patent, read the claims section (not just the abstract), and then tell us whether you still think the prior art you list is actually prior art.

Re:Evil Monopoly (2)

mgiuca (1040724) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429074)

I wonder if automatic hyperlinking of email addresses count as prior art; although this does not include the user interface element asking which program to use.

In that case, it isn't an invention, it's just two old and obvious ideas put together. For decades, programs have detected patterns in text and automatically linked them or associated a particular action. For decades, programs have asked users what program to use to handle a particular type of content. The idea of "let's detect patterns in text to determine the type of content, and then ask users what program to use" is a simple combination of the above two ideas. It does not constitute an invention that you should be able to destroy all sales of your competition.

Once again, Apple is using a law supposedly about innovation to ruin everybody else's chances in the marketplace. Their time on top is over, and legal protection for bogus patents is the only thing they have left.

Re:Evil Monopoly (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429182)

Once again, Apple is using a law supposedly about innovation to ruin everybody else's chances in the marketplace. Their time on top is over, and legal protection for bogus patents is the only thing they have left.

Further, this was a horribly expensive "win" for Apple. They lost claims on 4 or 5 patents (these can never be re-asserted) and they won a tiny UI feature, that can easily be programmed around. Apple won't be able to enforce those patent claims against any other phone makers either.

The permanent loss of the patents far outweighs a UI quirk that can be avoided with a minor programming change which will be in place before the ruling takes affect. Its like going to war with 4 entire divisions, getting totally out trounced, but coming home with a mess-hall cook as a POW.

A few more wins like this and Apple will need a whole new patent portfolio.

Re:Evil Monopoly (4, Insightful)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429340)

I suppose the only thing left to lament is all the money HTC had to waste to bring this common sense to light. Money that could have been spent on, well, something useful.

Re:Evil Monopoly (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429352)

Each of these wins keeps competition out of the market for a while. Most of their competitors come out with new hardware and new features much faster than Apple does. Every little delay is a win for them.

Re:Evil Monopoly (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429516)

Each of these wins keeps competition out of the market for a while. Most of their competitors come out with new hardware and new features much faster than Apple does. Every little delay is a win for them.

But this one won't keep any HTC phones out of the market place.

HTC can program around this prior to the effective date. The effective date is April 2012. And it only affects phones coming into the country after that date. So HTC ships its entire warehouse inventory over now, beating the injunction, then quietly slips in a few programming changes, and never misses a beat.

Re:Evil Monopoly (2)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429306)

I remember using a word processor over a decade ago that would recognize internet addresses and ask me if I wanted to turn it into a hyperlink.
Too bad I can't recall which software that was right now.

Re:Evil Monopoly (1)

mgiuca (1040724) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429434)

Well Microsoft Word 97 certainly did it. I'm not sure if anything predates that, but that is fourteen years old.

Re:Evil Monopoly (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429236)

Like this?
http://adult.engrish.com/2005/09/20/think-really-different/ [engrish.com]
ftp://mirrors.kernel.org/debian-cd/ [kernel.org]

Hmm. Seems ALL browsers and OSs can be configured via to allow arbitrary:// protocols to be opened with a specific program, indeed the latter can do so with plugins... Even when echoed to my xterm, that FTP line creates a link that opens my FTP program.

Who cares when the patent was granted. It's iterative and obvious, and it has been such since the late 80s wherein I played MUDs that had this sort of behavior... Certain words in certain contexts while in the hub-world would become highlighted by the software when written and when activated (by typing a command or "tabbing" to them), would launch another BBS "door" program.

eg: Hey, don't forget to use up your LoRD [lordlegacy.com] forest fights today!

Re:Evil Monopoly (2)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428780)

Monopoly?

I'm not sure you understand what that word means. At least, if you believe that they really are a monopoly then those market share figures for Android must be made up. I mean, I know it's hard to imagine anyone buying an Android phone, but I suspect the figures are accurate ;)

DISCLAIMER: The last sentence is A JOKE (except the part about the numbers not lying).

Re:Evil Monopoly (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38429016)

I mean, I know it's hard to imagine anyone buying an Android phone, but I suspect the figures are accurate ;)

DISCLAIMER: The last sentence is A JOKE (except the part about the numbers not lying).

The only reason you have to post this disclaimer is because you're generally such a douche that people might think you're serious.

Re:Evil Monopoly (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429556)

The latter of those reasons, yes.

The former isn't really in any doubt on slashdot - I mean, I have the audacity to say positive things on /., that's pretty douchey.

Sorry to be pedantic (1, Offtopic)

hellfire (86129) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429158)

Call them an evil empire all you want, I'm not doing to argue. That's the point you are trying to make. But don't call them an evil monopoly. They aren't a monopoly by any definition. I'm tired of people using that word and not understanding what it properly means.

It's like calling Sarah Palin a stupid man.

Re:Sorry to be pedantic (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429228)

They may not currently be a monopoly, but at the rate the "justice" (I use the term sarcastically) system is sucking their dick, they will be soon because all other companies will be banned from competing with Apple.

Re:Sorry to be pedantic (2)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429260)

Sarah Palin is a stupid man. The word "man" means two things, one is an adult of the male gender, and the other is a human person of either sex. As in, you know, "mankind".

Screwed up Patent System (5, Insightful)

nikomen (774068) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428584)

Just another reason why our patent system needs to be changed. And another reason I don't know who to vote for these days. It seems that all politicians (or most) support the current patent system or don't care to do anything about it. I mean, how can you patent touching a phone number on a screen? That isn't even close to an invention. Absurdity.

Re:Screwed up Patent System (-1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428870)

Well someone must have invented it, otherwise it wouldn't exist in any product.

Re:Screwed up Patent System (5, Insightful)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428950)

i think you, like the USPTO, have confused "invented" with "implemented".

it's the implementation of a blindingly obvious idea. it's not (or should not be) patentable in any way.

Re:Screwed up Patent System (-1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429316)

i think you, like the USPTO, have confused "invented" with "implemented".

Nope. It has to be invented before it can be implemented.

Whether or not software should be patentable is a separate matter.

Re:Screwed up Patent System (1)

lexman098 (1983842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429566)

His point is that novelty is a factor; or should be.

Re:Screwed up Patent System (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38428970)

And somebody invented having an entry/exit hole to get into your house or car, too. Some (most) things should not be patentable, because they are so incredibly obvious to anybody with even the vaguest inkling of an idea about the field in question. The issue is that our current patent system doesn't hold submissions up to even a relatively low standard such as this -- it's pretty-much a given that whatever a big corporation submits an application for will be granted, and it will take a lengthy court battle to have it overturned later, even when it is clear to everybody involved that it never should have been granted in the first place.

That leaves us in a situation where whomever has the deepest pockets (and thus the best lawyers, at least in terms of ability to drag a case out for the longest possible time) will always win, and all the patent process does is prevent innovation, and prevent the little guy from succeeding.

Re:Screwed up Patent System (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38429130)

In the long term the current patent regime is going to kill US tech industry. The only way to avoid the demise is if congress is willing to use military force to enforce the same regulations world wide.

even if it's minor, pretty ridiculous (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428594)

From TFA:

So what Apple has won is a formal import ban scheduled to commence on April 19, 2012, but relating only to HTC Android phones implementing one of two claims of a "data tapping patent": a patent on an invention that marks up phone numbers and other types of formatted data in an unstructured document, such as an email, in order to enable users to bring up other programs (such as a dialer app) that process such data.

So the non-frivolous claim on which Apple actually prevailed was essentially a regex to find things that look like phone numbers in unstructured text documents, which then link to a dialer app?

Re:even if it's minor, pretty ridiculous (3, Interesting)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428630)

So the non-frivolous claim on which Apple actually prevailed was essentially a regex to find things that look like phone numbers in unstructured text documents, which then link to a dialer app?

It's slightly more complicated than that IIRC, but pretty much.

Re:even if it's minor, pretty ridiculous (2)

jhantin (252660) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428694)

Now if only they'd clout Kontera and similar advertising providers with this patent. I don't want the word "books" to automatically become a pay-per-click link to Amazon, thanks.

Re:even if it's minor, pretty ridiculous (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38428672)

>

So the non-frivolous claim on which Apple actually prevailed was essentially a regex to find things that look like phone numbers in unstructured text documents, which then link to a dialer app?

And even worse, there was a phone Zimlet available prior to the release of the iPhone that did exactly the same thing, minus the touchscreen equivalent of a click. This is a poor decision at best.

Re:even if it's minor, pretty ridiculous (5, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428980)

Maybe you didn't read the date on the patent. It was filed in 1996 and granted in 1999. This patent isn't an iPhone patent. It's a Newton patent.

More to the point, the patent application was filed before Google, HTC, or Zimbra were even founded—back in the day when Palm was just starting to take off. You're going to have to look a lot farther back than the Zimlet for prior art.

Re:even if it's minor, pretty ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38429010)

There's plenty of prior art.. heck how about awk?

In any case this patent is completely and totally obvious to even a CS101 student... and that should be grounds for invalidation

Re:even if it's minor, pretty ridiculous (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429138)

Awk isn't prior art. It might be possible to implement a small portion of this using Awk (though it would be a royal pain in the backside—Perl would do a much better job given that we're talking about detecting data in free-form text, not formatted records), but that doesn't make it prior art. Prior art has to do everything that the patent covers, not just one little piece.

Prior art for this would be a graphical (or text-GUI) application that, as part of its normal operation, detected email addresses and other piece of information and acted on them in some interesting way. For example, if you could find a USENET news reader from 1995 that automatically detected email addresses outside the To and From fields and converted them to clickable links, then you would have prior art. The fact that someone could have implemented this using software that existed prior to 1996 is immaterial. As far as patent law is concerned, the only thing that matters is whether someone else actually did implement it prior to 1996.

Re:even if it's minor, pretty ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38429532)

Did you miss the word 'obvious' in GP's post? Obviousness is also part of patent law.

This is blatantly obvious and trivial. You find the phone number with a regex and then wrap it up in a link. This was not an innovation at the time of application.

Re:even if it's minor, pretty ridiculous (2)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429154)

Actually, correction, on further searching, Data Detectors were initially a Copland UI feature (though it might have appeared in Newton at some point as well). My bad.

Re:even if it's minor, pretty ridiculous (2)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428996)

Actually Apple patented this in the mid 1990's.

And even worse, there was a phone Zimlet available prior to the release of the iPhone that did exactly the same thing, minus the touchscreen equivalent of a click. This is a poor decision at best.

Re:even if it's minor, pretty ridiculous (3, Insightful)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428736)

Skype did that before apple every launched an iPhone (obviously, not on a phone, but using phone numbers).

Whoever allowed them to get a patent like that is an idiot. It's not just the system that is wrong, is the ones controlling it and that should be evaluating patents for things like prior art and actual invention that are failing.

Re:even if it's minor, pretty ridiculous (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429080)

Yeah, but Apple did it and patented it seven years before Skype was even founded. Everything seems obvious fifteen years after its invention....

Re:even if it's minor, pretty ridiculous (1, Insightful)

Zalbik (308903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429204)

Everything seems obvious fifteen years after its invention....

But some things are also obvious before their invention...like the thing Apple is suing over.

"New" should not mean the same thing as "Invention" as far as patent law is concerned.

It quite obviously doesn't promote innovation, and is tying up our legal system with stupid lawsuits that do nothing but harm the consumer.

Re:even if it's minor, pretty ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38428916)

This type of function has been available in web documents for tens of years now! Just think of the e-mail links that come up when you see someone's e-mail address online...and what happens when you click them in ANY browser? They open Outlook or Thunderbird or the like... That's the function right there...and by NO means is it new! OR in regards to Google, Gmail itself has had the feature where it will take things like tracking numbers from e-mails and provide you with a link to UPS (or the like) to track it. This feature has existed for a long time...though technically it doesn't lead to a "program" or "app" when the link is clicked, it is a remarkably similar feature which goes on the same basis of allowing something else to take charge. Still, going on the basis of a link linking to a program, that's what those e-mail links have done for tens of years now. They can't claim the right to that...it's the same underlying idea. Simply because it's a phone number instead of an e-mail address doesn't get rid of the underlying idea of it being information formatted to be used by another program -- same principle. If this is truly what they had patented for themselves and were arguing about, it's a b.s. patent.

Re:even if it's minor, pretty ridiculous (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429048)

Email links are explicitly marked. This patent is about detecting things that look like email addresses that are not marked with links in the HTML.

Also, all of your "prior art" examples were invented more than a decade after this patent was filed. Google didn't exist when this was filed, and neither did Microsoft Outlook. Netscape Navigator was still the most popular web browser—Netscape Communicator hadn't scared everyone over to IE yet. JavaScript had just been invented.

Remember, what's obvious now was not necessarily obvious fifteen years ago.

More details (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38428602)

http://www.itc337update.com/tags/337ta710/

Minor victory? (0, Troll)

nightfell (2480334) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428608)

It looks like Apple's victory is relatively minor. They lost claims on all patents except for one, and HTC/Google can work on implementing similar functionality in a non-infringing way.

It seems like this is exactly what Apple wants, other companies coming up with their own solutions. This should also be want Slashdot wants. Isn't competition what drives innovation? Where's the innovation if everyone just does what everyone else is doing?

Re:Minor victory? (5, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428676)

Isn't competition what drives innovation? Where's the innovation if everyone just does what everyone else is doing?

Who's going to be able to innovate if they're being forced to waste their time looking for ways to work around stupid patents instead?

Such as inventing Ogg Vorbis, which is better than (1)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428730)

MP3?

I agree that the patent system is broken because patents are granted for frivolous claims such as XOR cursors.

But to the extent that inventions really are novel and unobvious, and the claims non frivolous, continuously reinventing the wheel is really what we want. if we never reinvented wheels, we would still be rolling things around on the trunks of fallen trees.

Further I do not agree that software should be exempt from patents for the reason that the patent office gave, that software is an inherently mathematical concept. Anyone who does not agree that software is just as mechanical as an automobile engine has never written any code.

Re:Such as inventing Ogg Vorbis, which is better t (2)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428828)

That's not reinventing the wheel, thats improving the wheel... Something you couldn't do if the wheel was patented because your improved version would still infringe on the original.

Re:Such as inventing Ogg Vorbis, which is better t (2)

Zalbik (308903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429220)

Anyone who does not agree that software is just as mechanical as an automobile engine has never written any code.

Sorry, but anyone who things that software is just as mechanical as an automobile engine has never rebuilt an engine.

Spoken as someone with a math degree who earns a living coding....

Re:Minor victory? (0)

nightfell (2480334) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428850)

Isn't competition what drives innovation? Where's the innovation if everyone just does what everyone else is doing?

Who's going to be able to innovate if they're being forced to waste their time looking for ways to work around stupid patents instead?

Apple went through the trouble coming up with it in the first place. What's so wrong with expecting others to do the same? Are Apple somehow more capable than the rest of the industry combined or something? That doesn't seem likely.

Patentable inventions must be novel and unobvoius (2, Insightful)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428918)

I would hardly say that turning phone numbers into hyperlinks qualifies as novel and unobvoius.

A real problem is that fiendishly expensive lawsuits are required to overturn patents. we would be much better off if just anyone could point out prior art that would get the patent office to overturn patents that aren't really novelmor unobvious.

the patent examiner who decides the unobvious part really should be an expert in the given technology. had some examiner ever studied the most elementary graphics, they never would have granted a patent for the XOR cursor.

Re:Patentable inventions must be novel and unobvoi (2)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429326)

I would hardly say that turning phone numbers into hyperlinks qualifies as novel and unobvoius.

In 1996, it kind of was. The issue is that the duration of a patent is too long and what was once novel has become obvious.

Re:Minor victory? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38428708)

It seems like Apple wants other companies to waste time and money on lawyers fighting these lawsuits and developers coming up with non-obvious techniques for doing obvious things to get around the patents.

Things like this force wasted effort that could better be spent pushing the boundaries of what is available rather than going back and redoing things that have been around for literally (figuratively) billions of years.

Full Disclose: I own both a Macbook Pro and an iPhone.

Re:Minor victory? (3, Interesting)

sideslash (1865434) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428760)

This should also be want Slashdot wants.

I like diversity in Slashdot opinions. If all Slashdot readers were Apple fanboys like you, it would be boring around here.

Isn't competition what drives innovation? Where's the innovation if everyone just does what everyone else is doing?

It's ironic that you chose the word "competition" to describe forcing people out of a space via an effective monopoly.

Re:Minor victory? (0)

nightfell (2480334) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428824)

This should also be want Slashdot wants.

I like diversity in Slashdot opinions. If all Slashdot readers were Apple fanboys like you, it would be boring around here.

Yeah, I must be a fanboy because my opinion is different than yours...

Isn't competition what drives innovation? Where's the innovation if everyone just does what everyone else is doing?

It's ironic that you chose the word "competition" to describe forcing people out of a space via an effective monopoly.

Not sure what you mean here. Where is Apple trying to force anyone out of a market?

Re:Minor victory? (2)

Zalbik (308903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429230)

Isn't competition what drives innovation? Where's the innovation if everyone just does what everyone else is doing?

Not if the "innovation" involves coming up with a non-obvious way to perform a task due to the fact that some company has patented the obvious way of performing that task.

Re:Minor victory? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428820)

Why reinvent the wheel? Take what already exists as a base, and innovate beyond it... That's how progress works!

Or would you prefer that the wheel was patented and every vehicle manufacturer but one had to waste huge resources creating an "innovative" replacement for it?

While a company is expending resources to create an inferior replacement for something that already exists, they can't be using those resources to create something truly new and innovative....

You'd end up with a situation where company A has a patent on round wheels, while company B has a patent on square wheels and spent years developing an extremely advanced suspension system to try to bring the ride comfort of their square wheels to be competitive with the round wheels... Meanwhile everything else in the cars would be antiquated because they spent all their time trying to work around each other's patents.

Re:Minor victory? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428858)

You can't come up with an alternate approach to an idea. Software patents are ridiculous because a completely different implementation still infringes.

Re:Minor victory? (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428968)

umm, what? try read what the patent covers and see if your point stands up to the stupidity of the situation.

Re:Minor victory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38429312)

There are some things that need to be improved, and some things everyone should be able to do in the same way.

I'm getting sick of these news stories... (0)

c0mpliant (1516433) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428628)

These are basically irrelevant stories which only last for a few weeks at most and serve only to annoy everyone concerned. It Isn't benefiting consumers, its not beneficial to either company and only wastes court time. No one wins from this tit for tat patent challenges

Re:I'm getting sick of these news stories... (3, Insightful)

Delarth799 (1839672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428748)

No your wrong, there IS somebody who wins. The lawyers win, and the more something is tied up in court the more they win.

2012 Elections - Any Hope? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38428634)

Can we elect people who will terminate software patents, please?

has it always been like this? (3, Interesting)

Sebastopol (189276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428642)

The flurry of international tablet lawsuits seems much more rigorous than I remember for any past technology. Was it always this bad?

Smart phones didn't sue each other this badly. Nor did DVD manufacturers. AMD & Intel went at it hard during the 80's & early 90's. Sony & Betamax sorta duked it out. But the tablet wars seem to be nutso.

At least the economy for lawyers is booming...

Re:has it always been like this? (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428722)

At least the economy for lawyers is booming...

Eventually people will just stop bothering to make things.

Re:has it always been like this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38428854)

Sony was Betamax, they also worked on VHS but broke away.

Re:has it always been like this? (3, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428914)

Smart phones didn't sue each other this badly.

Smartphones are STILL suing each other, including involvement by Apple. DVD was handled by a consortium and there's no money in going after unlicensed players, although the low-hanging fruit is picked just to keep the people making such things on their toes. Intel totally boned AMD. Betamax was a Sony technology, ITYM Betamax and VHS, but putting onerous licensing terms on a technology and killing it is actually called "Betamaxing".

Re:has it always been like this? (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429604)

The early 21st century can't touch the end of the 19th where patent litigation is concerned.

Everything from telepgraph technology, loom technology, sewing machines... you name it, there were companies suing each other into oblivion, blocking entire industries for years or decades.

We've got it *good* these days.

when a win is barely a win (5, Informative)

StealthHunter (597677) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428690)

HTC gave Android Central the following statement (updated 6:20 EST): We are gratified that the Commission affirmed the judge’s initial determination on the ‘721 and ‘983 patents, and reversed its decision on the ‘263 patent and partially on the ‘647 patent. We are very pleased with the determination and we respect it. However, the ‘647 patent is a small UI experience and HTC will completely remove it from all of our phones soon.

And maybe that is a win! (2)

robbak (775424) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429124)

Not having this 'feature' may be a win for HTC. I find it really annoying when I touch a date and have my phone set itself up to dial '2011'. It also doesn't work, because when I try to use this feature, it only recognizes part of the number : usually just the '1800' of '1300' part, which is completely useless.

Legal costs (3, Interesting)

multiben (1916126) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428692)

I would love to know what fraction of total expenditure for some of these companies is spent on legal tangles. All these cost are of course passed on to the consumer at the end of the day, so the longer this ridiculous farce of a patent system is allowed to continue the longer it will be that we continue to pay inflated costs.

Re:Legal costs (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428728)

The whole point of the patent system is to increase costs to consumers by reducing competition. There'd be no reason to have it otherwise.

Re:Legal costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38429002)

There used to be plenty of reason for having it. Technology started a exponential increase around the same time patents became more common. There is a link between the two things, though I'm not sure how strong the relationship is personally, if you check your history, it is undeniable there is some sort of relationship. Unfortunately the pendulum has swung quite part part the sweet spot and is going to start to hurt this innovation more and more if we do nothing.

Re:Legal costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38428756)

The true legal cost is that no amount of advertising is ever going to repair the damage to Apple's image.

Re:Legal costs (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429050)

I would love to know what fraction of total expenditure for some of these companies is spent on legal tangles.

Hey! You don't think lawyers have to eat too?

Fuck Apple (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38428788)

or does Apple have that patented too.

Re:Fuck Apple (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429580)

or does Apple have that patented too.

In this case, Penny Arcade [penny-arcade.com] has the prior art.

No matter what they do to try to force me to own a (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38428878)

No matter what they do to try to force me to own an Apple product I never will. I was actually cheering Jobs on in the book until they got to the iPod and then I was cheering him to the grave.

USPTO in bed with Apple? (4, Interesting)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38428942)

uspto.gov requries the use of Apple Quicktime to view images. Whats wrong with gif, jpg, png...

Re:USPTO in bed with Apple? (2)

mambru (224456) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429436)

It "just" embeds a tiff file. Maybe your browser is fooling you.

Message Broker / ESB w/ workflow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38429072)

This kind of thing has been done forever in distributed systems.
Analyze the data and trigger an action based on the content within the context of processing a workflow.

RIM did this a long time before apple. Windows always asked how to open a file w/ out an associated application.

This isn't a new problem.

I'm available for part time work if google needs someone to implement a message based ESB-lite on Android.

In a vague sense carrier IQ was violating parts of these patents w/o UI elements.

Patents need infringment time limits (4, Insightful)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429128)

If you filed a patent 15 years ago and there have been infringements of your patent for the last 10 or so years without you even blinking an eye about, it should be declared invalid.

I recall my pocket pc doing something like this. I bought it in 2002.

wtf @ this patent (1)

arbiter1 (1204146) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429168)

So apple has a patent for just entering personal data in a mobile device? WTF is next they are ruled to own the patent on the idea of a smart phone?

In a certain way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38429402)

this is actually a good thing.

Once Apple has pushed everybody else of the smartphone market, it has been proven that patents are just another extortion mechanism for large companies.

Also, hasn't anybody noticed that Windows phones aren't targeted? Time and again google seems to be the target.

BT too, since they can't get net neutrality removed from the picture, they abuse patents for their extortion schemes.

WHEN DOES THE WORLD REALIZE THAT PATENTS ARE JUST ANOTHER EXTORTION SCHEME FOR LARGE COMPANIES? They don't help the small man at all, as maintaining patents is really expensive and proving that a patent has been violated is even more expensive... and money is something small companies don't have.

another Apple rip-off (1)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38429574)

What Apple patented in '647 was standard functionality on other devices before. Right now, Apple can merrily rip off other companies and they can get away with it because there is no money in overturning their patents. We need to change the patent system so that if companies succeed in overturning a bad patent like '647, companies like Apple are on the hook for tens of millions of dollars in damages, plus an obligation to replay all related licensing fees.

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