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iPhone Infringes On Sony, Nokia Patents, Says Federal Jury

timothy posted about a year ago | from the orange-you-glad-I-didn't-say-samsung? dept.

Patents 166

snydeq writes "A federal jury in Delaware has found Apple's iPhone infringes on three patents held by MobileMedia, a patent-holding company formed by Sony, Nokia and MPEG LA, InfoWorld reports. The jury found that the iPhone directly infringed U.S. patent 6,070,068, which was issued to Sony and covers a method for controlling the connecting state of a call, U.S. patent 6,253,075, which covers call rejection, and U.S. patent 6,427,078, which covers a data processing device. MobileMedia has garnered the unflattering descriptor "patent troll" from some observers. The company, which was formed in 2010, holds some 300 patents in all."

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166 comments

Live by the sword . . . (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42277591)

. . . die by the sword. I hate Sony with the heat of a thousand suns, but would love to see them make Apple write an eight figure check.

Re:Live by the sword . . . (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#42277633)

More than likely we'll just end up with a cross-licensing deal and an end to this particular patent theater of war. Frankly, I don't think Apple's expectation was ever to permanently ban competitors devices, it was simply to delay their release into major markets long enough to cripple sales.

Re:Live by the sword . . . (5, Insightful)

Neon Spiral Injector (21234) | about a year ago | (#42277723)

A company that makes no products has no need to cross-license patents.

Re:Live by the sword . . . (1, Insightful)

Kergan (780543) | about a year ago | (#42277983)

If the deal extends to its owners, who actually do make products, then it may have needs.

Re:Live by the sword . . . (4, Interesting)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about a year ago | (#42278851)

A company that makes no products has no need to cross-license patents.

The *point* of this company is cross licensing. Nokia, Sony etc could establish a complicated network of cross licensing deals, or they can put it into one pool and then take out the rewards relative to their contribution to the coalition.

Apple can just pay the license fee, or contribute enough intellectual property to the pool such that it gets back a share equal to a share of the patent group.

This is how the MPEG group works. MPEG is a collection of dozens of patents from tons of people. If you have something that can make MPEG better you can simply sell your patent to the group and make a nice little royalty. Or you can get your royalty and buy MPEG licenses gaining you access to the rest of the patents.

This is how the patent system should work for complicated systems. You build a cell phone patent pool. Then if you want to create new OS you pay the license fee without having to negotiate with 50 different patent holders.

Re:Live by the sword . . . (0, Troll)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#42278089)

Frankly, I don't think Apple's expectation was ever to permanently ban competitors devices, it was simply to delay their release into major markets long enough to cripple sales.

ORLY? I think it was samsung's intention to disregard ip, rush a product to market for cheap because they cut development costs and time, then get a slap on the writs later. By that point, they would already have. Foot in the market, and will gladly pay the price fore their initial transgressions. Pretty sneaky! That's business for you.

Re:Live by the sword . . . (0)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about a year ago | (#42278347)

Yes, I feel like samsung has committed a major transgression, ignoring patents so shitty that the lawyers who filed the patent all deserve to be punched in hroat at least once.

Re:Live by the sword . . . (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#42278155)

If you delay a product long enough, it becomes obsolete. You can then play catch up instead of innovating.

Re:Live by the sword . . . (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about a year ago | (#42277737)

My thoughts exactly. Yes, MobileMedia might be a patent troll, but Apple well deserves this lawsuit. I hope that Steve Jobs' thermonuclear approach to Android will backfire on an epic level: once the patent wars leave the shell of dead corporations strewn all over the landscape, people will huddle together and promise themselves "never again" And the only way to do that: no more patents.

Either that, or we wisen up and make the patent system much more reasonable (working prototype, truly limited time, no patents on math or business methods, etc.). I wonder which one will happen first.

Re:Live by the sword . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42277951)

Either that, or we wisen up and make the patent system much more reasonable (working prototype, truly limited time, no patents on math or business methods, etc.). I wonder which one will happen first.

And prior art should automatically invalidate a patent, something the USPO has been ignoring for years. AND no patents on things like geometric shapes either, my first cell phone back in the early 90's was a rectangle with rounded corners (of course this counts as prior art too).

Re:Live by the sword . . . (4, Informative)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year ago | (#42278613)

The rounded corners are a design patent, which, despite it's similar name, is something completely different to a patent.

Re:Live by the sword . . . (3, Informative)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about a year ago | (#42277819)

Which Sony? They are so schizophrenic they frequently sue themselves. [upenn.edu]

Re:Live by the sword . . . (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42278287)

Which Sony? The japanese one. It pisses me off that we let them rip us off after we spared their lives. We should have sent more nukes. Fuck the japs.

Re:Live by the sword . . . (5, Insightful)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year ago | (#42278177)

. . . die by the sword. I hate Sony with the heat of a thousand suns, but would love to see them make Apple write an eight figure check.

Unfortunately the only real winners will be the lawyers.

Re:Live by the sword . . . (2, Insightful)

Alien Being (18488) | about a year ago | (#42278257)

They should both be writing billions of hundred dollar checks to pay back all the money they have stolen from consumers.

Re:Live by the sword . . . (2, Insightful)

jo_ham (604554) | about a year ago | (#42278499)

They should both be writing billions of hundred dollar checks to pay back all the money they have stolen from consumers.

I'm curious. What money have they stolen from consumers?

Re:Live by the sword . . . (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42278853)

You're a fucking idiot if you can't figure it out for yourself.

Re:Live by the sword . . . (0)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | about a year ago | (#42278567)

. . . die by the sword. I hate Sony with the heat of a thousand suns, but would love to see them make Apple write an eight figure check.

Ditto

Re:Live by the sword . . . (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about a year ago | (#42279003)

Except it's not Sony it's MobileMedia which is owned by Nokia, MPEG-LA, and Sony. Think they won't sue other companies they're going after RIM and HTC.

Re:Live by the sword . . . (0)

AbRASiON (589899) | about a year ago | (#42279227)

Yep, completely agreed. HEY APPLE, HOW DOES IT FEEL?

Glorious stuff. Also, Sony has made many many dumb mistakes but they do produce some good stuff. Considering their financials, this is just a positive for them really.
Any company which introduces a region free game console is fine by me, it's prompted me to feel comfortable purchasing many many games more than I normally would, due to the ability to get much more reasonable prices.

Re:links to patents (4, Informative)

MachDelta (704883) | about a year ago | (#42278119)

I get the second and third patents (even if they're blindingly obvious), but that first one....

6,070,068 - In a communication terminal device, the connecting state of a call can certainly and easily be controlled without learning troublesome operating methods which are different depending on the connecting state of a call by providing controller for displaying processing items available to a call a display and controlling the call into the connecting state corresponding to the processing item which is selected and determined by the user's operation of an input unit, the user can control the connecting state of the call by merely selecting the desired processing item.

...seriously, what the fuck does that even mean?

Re:links to patents (1)

aevan (903814) | about a year ago | (#42278727)

*blink* "On-screen options to hangup or redial, instead of special buttons"...that's the best I can glean from it.

Re:links to patents (4, Informative)

floodo1 (246910) | about a year ago | (#42279293)

The patent claims that before this awesome "invention" users had to hit either 1,2, or 3 on the keypad followed by the send button in order to manage the call waiting aspect of your phone. It also claims that you had to press a different number to control a given call waiting function (place on hold, hang up current call, combine calls into a three way call, etc) depending on what you were doing on the phone at the time, so this was confusing and cumbersome for users.

So this Sony employee "invented" a simple menu system (though the patent seems to cover any sort of system, aka apple's buttons which pop up on screen when you get a call waiting type of call) which lets you (via a scroll wheel and button, in the example) select "Hold" or "Disconnnect" or what have you by scrolling and clicking. In this way the user doesn't have to remember whether they should press 1, 2, or 3 and instead can just click on words to do what they want.

It's worthwhile to look at the images which contain samples of the menu system (as well as flow charts and block layouts of a typical GSM cell phone).

TLDR: This extremely generic/broad patent is for a simple system to handle call waiting on a cell phone. A system which is novel because it's easier to use than the old keypad based system in use at the time.

Consequently it's ridiculous.

Re:links to patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42278163)

In a communication terminal device, the connecting state of a call can certainly and easily be controlled without learning troublesome operating methods which are different depending on the connecting state of a call by providing controller for displaying processing items available to a call a display and controlling the call into the connecting state corresponding to the processing item which is selected and determined by the user's operation of an input unit, the user can control the connecting state of the call by merely selecting the desired processing item.

What the hell did I just read?

Re:links to patents (2)

floodo1 (246910) | about a year ago | (#42279373)

Reading that first patent is quite interesting. They basically patented a system of on screen objects that you can select in order to handle call waiting functionality....which was a new invention compared to the old way of using the 1,2,3 and send keys, which was confusing for people (according to the patent).

Highlights the ludicrousness of patents. "Hey man, this is groundbreaking stuff here, making a menu system with simple text labels instead of making people remember which number to press at which time". Pretty much NOTHING new about the idea, just the specific application to cell phones .... /LAME

When? (1)

rotorbudd (1242864) | about a year ago | (#42277631)

is all of this going to reach critical mass and blow up in their faces???

Re:When? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42277751)

is all of this going to reach critical mass and blow up in OUR faces???

Regulations, Patent costs, etc...
It doesn't matter where the extra cost comes from, the consumer bears the cost.
There's always enough money for golden parachutes (ahem, sorry, job-creation parachutes).

Re:When? (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#42277899)

This argument gets repeated ad nauseum, but economics says that the market determines the price. If they pass these costs off the consumen en masse then they don't sell devices.

Re:When? (1)

Ost99 (101831) | about a year ago | (#42278187)

The assumptions underlying the theory of market determined prices are for the most part not present in the mobile phone market.

Re:When? (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about a year ago | (#42278521)

That's assuming a remotely compeitive market. However, because patents and regulatory barriers keep new companies from entering the market, and the lack of competition between carriers further eliminates choices, consumers pretty much have to just bend over and take it.

patent troll? (5, Insightful)

rgbrenner (317308) | about a year ago | (#42277655)

is there really a debate about if MobileMedia is a patent troll?

They hold patents. Check.
Specifically formed to sue other companies for patent infringement. Check
They don't make a single product or use their patents in any way. Check.

Definitely a patent troll. There is no debate.

I get it.. you hate Apple. But don't pretend like these assholes are suddenly good for everyone.

Re:patent troll? (5, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year ago | (#42277695)

If they're owned by companies that actually make products, then presumably they're more of a consortium (like the MPEG LA) than a patent troll, per-se.

I don't know, I hate software patents, but I like seeing companies that trying to destroy competitors products by abusing the patent system being themselves a victim of it.

Oh, they don't mind. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42277961)

Wealthy corporations consider patent litigation to be a cost of doing business. They are happy to accept the risk of being victimized by a patent lawsuit from another wealthy corporation, in return for the ability to squash any-and-every small upstart that might threaten their empire.

Fellow wealthy corporations are generally not a threat to one another. Even when in the same market space, they just form cartel arrangements, pay each other licence fees, and jointly dominate the market. The only real threat they face are young individuals with novel ideas forming small/nimble businesses that totally upset the existing market landscape. The fact that the ability to build such businesses is the foundation of the American dream (and very good for the economy) means nothing. All they care about is protecting them and theirs from such threats, and patent law does an excellent job of that.

To those who object that small businesses can get patents too: realize that having a patent means jack squat if you don't have the financial resources to afford the patent litigation. Small businesses never do, whether they own any patents or not.

Re:Oh, they don't mind. (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about a year ago | (#42278349)

Mod parent up.

It concisely explains all the apparent inconsistencies about patents.

The patent system is damn perfect as it is now, but for a different purpose than the one advertised.

Re:patent troll? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42277727)

I am pretty sure Sony and Nokia make devices.

Re:patent troll? (4, Insightful)

Coolhand2120 (1001761) | about a year ago | (#42277797)

They are jointly owned by Nokia and Sony. So the developers of the technology in question own the company. It is not simply a 3rd party that buys up patents to sue other companies. Because they are owned by the people who developed the technology, I wouldn't call them a patent troll.

Re:patent troll? (1)

thesameguy (1047504) | about a year ago | (#42278103)

Yeah, this is my feeling on the matter as well. Someone who buys up currently useless patents in the hopes that someday they will be useful is what a troll does. A group of companies pooling patents for things they all make sounds fairly reasonable - *especially* in the tech sector.

I'll be interested to see the outcome of this. Given Nokia and Sony's current situations I don't think they will be too aggressive with Apple - I think their short-term need for cash from a licensing deal would exceed their risk tolerance for fighting for a big check and forcing Apple to perform these functions in some other way. At the same time, I wonder if, in light of the Apple Maps debacle, Apple will continue with their "we don't negotiate" tactic or seek to pay out some licensing and not rock their own boat.

I completely understand defending one's territory, but Apple is *clearly* not actually threatened by the rest of the industry. Their success is only somewhat based on their technology - they should have been more gracious about sharing/selling it. Instead, they aggressively pursued an entire industry. Now, they have no friends and are trapped in a room with a bunch of scared dogs. Not position I'd like to be in literally or metaphorically.

Re:patent troll? (1)

knarf (34928) | about a year ago | (#42278227)

Definitely a patent troll, just a patent troll started by practising entities. The only reason they started this troll is to be able to use the common troll modus operandi: sue with bullshit patents without the risk of being sued because, troll as they are, they have nothing to sue over. This 'company' and its ilk is to the stated purpose of patent law as what high frequency traders are to the stated goal of the stock market: they are parasites.

Pity it is not legal to use a jumbo-sized fly swat on this vermin.

*Splat* another one bites the dust... It would be so... rewarding.

Re:patent troll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42278305)

They are jointly owned by Nokia and Sony. So the developers of the technology in question own the company. It is not simply a 3rd party that buys up patents to sue other companies. Because they are owned by the people who developed the technology, I wouldn't call them a patent troll.

I'll bet money that this company was formed SPECIFICALLY to defend Nokia and Sony from Apple's aggressive lawsuit behaviour.

Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42277915)

Aw, another butthurt Apple fanboy with a persecution complex. But don't let me stop you from acting like the whole world is against poor little innocent Apple.

Or perhaps I will. After all, Apple teamed up with Microsoft and RIM to buy Nortel's patents, and then used that to form their own patent mega-troll called the "Rockstar Consortium." And their only reason for existing is to attack Android.

But by all means, go back to whining about how everyone is picking on poor, innocent Apple.

Re:patent troll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42278221)

That's a stretch. They were formed to counter-sue companies for patent infringement. Apple fired first... remember that.

Apple may have grabbed a huge slice of the market share in a short time but they didn't invent the devices ex nihilio. They stood on the shoulders of these giants.This is just a reality check for Apple.

Re:patent troll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42278669)

No debate. Apple it the biggest patent troll of all. That changes the context to troll against troll.

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42277699)

Patents will be the downfall of our society as they are currently implemented.

absurd (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42277701)

This is ridiculous. Apple invented the patent! How could they infringe on one?

Re:absurd (1)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about a year ago | (#42277787)

In fact, if you use all the letters from "Steve Jobs Apple Newton Lisa MobileMe", you get "patent". Coincidence? I think not.

Re:absurd (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year ago | (#42278733)

This is ridiculous. Apple invented the patent! How could they infringe on one?

They may have invented the patent, but they forgot to patent it.

There's your problem ... (5, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#42277703)

U.S. patent 6,427,078, which covers a data processing device

Is so broad as to cover everything like a computer, but smaller.

From the actual patent:

The object of the invention is a device for personal communication, data collection and data processing, which is a small-sized, portable and hand-held work station comprising a data processing unit (2); a display (9); a user interface (10, 11); a number of peripheral device interfaces (12, 17); at least one memory unit (13); a power source, preferably a battery (3); and an application software. According to the invention the device also comprises a camera unit (14). The camera unit (14) comprises a camera (14a), preferably a semiconductor camera, and optics (14b) connected thereto, which are placed in the housing (1) of the device. Alternatively, the camera unit (14) is fitted on a PCMCIA card (15) which can be connected to the PCMCIA card slot (16) of the device. An object of the invention is also a PCMCIA card (15) provided with a camera unit (14).

I'm sorry, but that's Von Neumann architecture with some form of camera attached.

Since it starts with the definition of work-station and then simply says it is hand held, it basically is one of those "with a computer" (or in this case cell phone) patents.

I'm not going to go through each of the claims on the patent, but I'm not seeing anything in here that sounds like an invention -- just a description of a small computer with its own display. Which to me, means this patent should have never been granted.

Re:There's your problem ... (5, Insightful)

tsotha (720379) | about a year ago | (#42277811)

Probably true, but Apple has been suing the hell out of everyone with the same kind of flimsy portfolio. Sauce for the goose.

Re:There's your problem ... (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#42277953)

Probably true, but Apple has been suing the hell out of everyone with the same kind of flimsy portfolio. Sauce for the goose.

Maybe, maybe not.

Unfortunately, with the way the patent system is structured, every company wants to/has to patent as many things as they possibly can. And every company wants to use patents to skew the market in their favor -- either by insisting on licensing of patents which are absurd, or preventing competitors from selling similar products.

At a certain point, the lawyers do well with it, and the consumers (who invariably get all of these legal fees passed onto them) suffer.

From what I've been able to see, patents don't lead to innovation -- they lead to endless bickering among companies about who invented a rectangle with square corners, and who owns the rights to a "Device for personal communications, data collection and data processing, and a circuit card".

So many of these patents either cover something which should be fairly obvious to anybody in the field (the "with a computer" patents), or end up covering something which other people invented and have been doing for a while. I can't remember what it was, but I remember seeing something in the last 5-10 years which was the topic of a patent lawsuit, and it covered stuff I'd learned in school and which people had been talking about for a while.

This is just pissing contests between multi-nationals for the most part.

Re:There's your problem ... (1)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about a year ago | (#42278067)

Maybe, maybe not.

REALLY? Rounded corners? Who are you kidding? There's no "maybe, maybe not" about it. Get real.

Re:There's your problem ... (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#42278579)

REALLY? Rounded corners? Who are you kidding? There's no "maybe, maybe not" about it. Get real.

You get real ... the fact is that, once the patent office granted someone a design patent [wikipedia.org] , it's the same as any other patent, and enforceable.

Do I think it's a good or sensible patent? Absolutely not. Does that change the fact that it was granted? Not at all.

I think for the most part, patents don't work, are usually overly broad, and do very little to foster anything resembling real innovation.

From there all manner of stupidity ensues. If the patent office had said "Patent rounded corners? Are you insane?" and kicked out the patent, it would be a moot point. But, they didn't ... and every bit of stupidity which comes thereafter is an entirely logical result from the starting conditions.

If people are going to be granted absurd, but legally enforceable patents, what do you think will happen?

As they say, don't hate the player, hate the game -- I generally don't care which company is doing stupid things with the patent system, because the brokenness lies in the patent and legal system. But the game has turned all of the players into idiots and asshats.

Re:There's your problem ... (1)

samkass (174571) | about a year ago | (#42278709)

Maybe, maybe not.

REALLY? Rounded corners? Who are you kidding? There's no "maybe, maybe not" about it. Get real.

Really? Repeating the lie about Apple patenting "rounded corners" to justify defending a patent troll?

Hint: Apple has never claimed to have a patent on rounded corners. That's an invention of the internet. They have a design patent on the overall iPhone design and have only sued the one company that blatantly (and admitted doing so in their own internal correspondence) copied it.

Re:There's your problem ... (1)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | about a year ago | (#42279329)

Maybe, maybe not.

There is no "Maybe". It is definite. Rounded corners on a rectangle? A grid of icons? If those can be patented, why not just patent the wheel, which was invented thousands of years ago, and charge royalties to every automobile manufacturer?

Re:There's your problem ... (1)

gutnor (872759) | about a year ago | (#42278071)

Yeah, so that makes it twice worse. It does not matter who win or lose with a shitty patent. At the end of the day a shitty patent is a net cost to all of us.

Re:There's your problem ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42278179)

Ok, so you think this kind of lawsuit dickering is alright? Remember you said that the next time you cry about needing an overhaul of the patent system.
 
There is no "sauce for the goose." That kind of talk is just as good as saying "I hate the action but in this case I'll let it slide because the victim of the action isn't my friend." Had this been anyone else you'd be howling for justice. That doesn't work in the legal world.

Re:There's your problem ... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#42277949)

Another obvious patent then. Wanting to make ANY device smaller goes back to the beginning of invension itself.

We need a full fledged effort of some sort to invalidate patents. Maybe even a legal foundation of some sort. It's in the interest (at least for now) for every patent to be summarily accepted so you know the corporate controlled government will never fix it.

Re:There's your problem ... (1, Interesting)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#42277967)

I'm not going to go through each of the claims on the patent, but I'm not seeing anything in here that sounds like an invention

Likewise, I'm not going to open the book, but I'm not seeing anything in Moby Dick that makes it decent literature.

The claims are the single most important part of the patent. Everything else is just to make the claims clear enough that somebody else can duplicate the invention. Not reading them is tantamount to judging a book by its cover.

Actually reading claim 1, we see a patent for a handheld computer containing a camera, that uses a radio to transmit the pictures. In claim 2, this is specified to be the cellular phone network. Now what's interesting is that the first cell-phone cameras came to market in the summer of 1997. Surely this is prior art, yes? And the whole patent is invalid?

No. The patent was filed in February of 1997, placing it nicely in the territory for a genuine invention. There were some devices in as early as 1995 [wikipedia.org] that might possibly be prior art, but I'm certainly not qualified enough to determine whether they fit the patent claims or not.

Re:There's your problem ... (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#42278369)

Actually reading claim 1, we see a patent for a handheld computer containing a camera, that uses a radio to transmit the pictures. In claim 2, this is specified to be the cellular phone network. Now what's interesting is that the first cell-phone cameras came to market in the summer of 1997. Surely this is prior art, yes? And the whole patent is invalid?

So, I ask you, before 1995 did we have the technology for a computer to transmit images of a camera over a network? The answer, of course, is in 1991 [wikipedia.org] someone had a webcam which showed the coffee pot.

From the same link, the first commercial webcam was available in 1994, which is now a year before your lower bound. So by then we'd had cameras sending stuff over the network via a computer for years.

So, now walk me through this one, since I'm apparently quite slow ... if I take something which is already being done "on a computer" and "using a network", which specific part of "hand-held computer" and "cellular network" causes this to be an "invention"?

We already had desktop computers. We already had some inklings of hand held computers. We could already hook a camera up to a computer and send images over a network. And, by 1990 we had already reached the point of being able to generalize the concept of 'network' to include arbitrary transport mechanisms [wikipedia.org] (IP over Avian Carrier), so a cellular network is a specific variant of networking instead of something fundamentally new. The general problems of networking had been well discussed for years.

So, given that several years before this patent was even applied for we had mechanisms to "allow a computer to transmit the output of a semi-conductor camera over a network" -- I find it awfully difficult to figure out how this represents anything other than taking several already common things, and putting them into a smaller device which uses a cellular network.

Small isn't magic. Radio isn't magic. Cellular networks aren't magic. So to me, the first web cam of how much coffee was left covers almost all of the functional aspects of this patent -- except in a smaller box. And the last I checked "in a smaller box" isn't really sufficient to differentiate yourself as a distinct patent.

If someone had shown me this patent in 1997, I would have said the same thing -- in what way is taking something you can already do, but on a different device something which merits a patent?

Re:There's your problem ... (0)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#42278813)

So, now walk me through this one, since I'm apparently quite slow ... if I take something which is already being done "on a computer" and "using a network", which specific part of "hand-held computer" and "cellular network" causes this to be an "invention"?

The "making it work" part. After all, anybody can have an idea, but the whole point of a patent is to ensure reimbursement for the person who actually makes the invention work.

We already had desktop computers. We already had some inklings of hand held computers. We could already hook a camera up to a computer and send images over a network.

None of which explain the necessary arrangement that lets a camera fit into a phone form factor. Yes, we had ideas, but ideas are not inventions. Anyone can say "do X with Y", but it's not so easy [slashdot.org] to actually make it work.

several years before this patent was even applied for we had mechanisms to "allow a computer to transmit the output of a semi-conductor camera over a network"

And currently, we have mechanisms to transmit realistic 3D holograms to the other side of the galaxy. All we need is a Cat6 cable a few thousand lightyears long. Of course, this clearly obviates the novelty of any faster-than-light transmission we ever invent, since we can do it now (though sloppier and messier, and not really at all how it'll be done later).

...And the last I checked "in a smaller box" isn't really sufficient to differentiate yourself as a distinct patent.

Check again. Patentable inventions solve some problem (the "useful" requirement), and space constraints can certainly be a suitable problem.

Re:There's your problem ... (1)

medcalf (68293) | about a year ago | (#42279313)

Actually, you're quite wrong. Patents do not exist to "ensure reimbursement for teh person who actually makes the invention work." They exist to ensure monopoly control and profits (for a limited time) to the entity that patents the invention. They don't have to make it work to have the rights; they just have to have the idea. The point of the GP, and the grounds on which the USPO should be denying a lot of these patents, is that the people doing the patenting did not in fact have the idea. Many electronics/software patents are fundamentally nothing more than cobbling together things that have been done together before, that are already generalized, but finding niche cases where they haven't been done. For example, this patent on the camera in a handheld device sending pictures over a cellular network is more specific than (but not a different idea than) a camera in a device sending pictures over a network. The extension forward would be to, say, patent doing the exact same thing in a tablet or an e-book reader. The idea hasn't changed, the extension is obvious, and the patent would nonetheless almost certainly be granted.

Moreover, inventions are exactly ideas. It is not the physical thing which is patented, but the idea behind it. Most patents are granted before (often long before) a device implementing that patent is ever created.

Re:There's your problem ... (1, Insightful)

bws111 (1216812) | about a year ago | (#42279017)

Here is what US patent law says is patentable (this has been the language since 1793): any new and useful art, machine, manufacture or composition of matter and any new and useful improvement on any art, machine, manufacture or composition of matter. Emphasis mine.

So, was the move from wired webcams on wired network computers to cameras on wireless devices new? Yes. Was it useful? Yes. Was it an improvement on an existing something? Yes.

And remember, it isn't the idea of a camera on a cellphone that is patented, it is specifically how it is done that is patented.

Nothing in the patent law, now or at any time in the past, says that to be patentable something has to be so amazingly new that nobody could possibly have thought of it before.

Re:There's your problem ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42278199)

"Preferably a battery". That was funny. Or maybe "preferable unlimited power source".

Every phone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42277761)

Every phone I've ever used has a method to reject a call. Lame.

All I can say ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42277845)

... It's about time!

Overall I detest patent trolls for their detrimental effects on innovation and the US economy, but it'll bet if Apple wasn't so aggressive in their own patent troll behaviour this suit probably would never have happened.

Incoming Call Rejection Patent (3, Interesting)

Doctor Morbius (1183601) | about a year ago | (#42277901)

IncomingNumber := GetIncomingCallNumber();
RejectCall := SearchRejectedNumbersList(IncomingNumber);
If (RejectCall)
        RejectIncomingCall();
else
        AnswerIncomingCall();

There I just wrote the code to reject incoming calls if the number is in the rejected numbers list. How is this patentable?

Re:Incoming Call Rejection Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42278053)

Same way...

border-radius: 10px; ...is.

Re:Incoming Call Rejection Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42278181)

IncomingNumber := GetIncomingCallNumber();
RejectCall := SearchRejectedNumbersList(IncomingNumber);
If (RejectCall)

        RejectIncomingCall();
else

        AnswerIncomingCall();

There I just wrote the code to reject incoming calls if the number is in the rejected numbers list. How is this patentable?

Well... have you heard of patentable rectangle ?

How should that be possible... Oh it has rounded corners...

Re:Incoming Call Rejection Patent (4, Informative)

jittles (1613415) | about a year ago | (#42278341)

IncomingNumber := GetIncomingCallNumber(); RejectCall := SearchRejectedNumbersList(IncomingNumber); If (RejectCall) RejectIncomingCall(); else AnswerIncomingCall();

There I just wrote the code to reject incoming calls if the number is in the rejected numbers list. How is this patentable?

Except that I don't think that is what the patent covers at all. First of all, the iPhone does not let you create a filter list that automatically rejects calls. At least not until iOS 6 (and I doubt the lawsuit was filed since the release of iOS 6 and has a judgement). Instead, I think this is a patent covering the ability to tell the cell tower to stop ringing your phone because you're not going to bother answering. That, at the time it was added to cell phones, was certainly novel as far as I know. I had never seen a POTS phone that let you reject a call instead of just muting the ringer. I didn't bother reading the patent, so I could be wrong. But my guess is the patent actually comes from the Erickson side of the house, and not actually from Sony as it existed at the time of the filing.

Apple is a the biggest patent troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42277947)

Apple is a the biggest patent troll.
I hope they die from the same weapon they started the fight with.

really conflicted on this (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#42278077)

I want to side with Apple on this, the patents themselves seem ridiculous. But Apple has misbehaved in exactly the same manner, for the same absurdly ridiculous details. It's apparent that it's not about the individual patents, it's a full-on mud wrestle.

Re:really conflicted on this (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42278593)

But Apple has misbehaved in exactly the same manner, for the same absurdly ridiculous details.

You can't just look at Apple v. Samsung as though the complaint was isolated. This is the way law works. If you steal bread and get caught, you'll get charged for stealing bread, sure... but you'll also get charged with breaking and entering, trespassing, walking on the wrong side of a highway, and anything else the prosecution can think up... maybe most won't stick, but we're not going to let you get away with stealing bread even if it means we're prosecuting you for wielding a deadly weapon (the bread). That's what you and everyone else that is hating on Apple is conveniently ignoring... that this is how the law has ALWAYS worked. Apple is pissed off that everyone copied them. And everyone did. This is not in dispute. THIS [todayilearned.co.uk] REALLY [obamapacman.com] HAPPENED. [idownloadblog.com] It's not a case of "oh, well... that's how everyone's design would have trended even if Apple never existed" --- which, btw, has always been a bullshit argument. Apple's R&D is legendary. Apple, in strict secrecy, spent millions of dollars and years working on this "perfecting" the smart phone experience, and iPhone is the culmination of that effort. Then, 6 months after iPhone is released, behold! ALL SMARTPHONES LOOK LIKE IPHONE. Apple's complaint in Apple v. Samsung was about blatant copying... but Apple can't quite get the offender for the exact, precise crime... thus... they got Samsung on some bullshit... and Samsung deserved it (Apple gave Samsung many opportunities to make it right, and even Google was telling Samsung to back off the blatant near-counterfeiting of iPhone, but Samsung WANTED to copy the iPhone because they knew they might get away with it).

I say let Apple do as they wish. If they can protect their IP, then good for them. If they can't... then we're just going to have to get used to a long lasting trend of zero innovation... because what is the point of spending time and resources on innovation if another company can come along, reverse-engineer your innovation in a few months, and release a product that is superficially similar, and fool 1 in 5 (or better) of what should have been your customer into buying the knock off? None... no point in spending anything on innovating anything new... because you can't justify the cost, and the subsequent loss by copy theft.

Re:really conflicted on this (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#42278917)

Ok, you're right. You've changed my mind. I hope Apple is crushed by this verdict. Because that's how the law works.

those proverbial chickens are coming home to roost (4, Insightful)

zuki (845560) | about a year ago | (#42278215)

Given Apple's current stances on these very issues, I don't expect they're going to get a lot of sympathy here

Yet beyond the mere satisfaction of seeing the bully take a couple, it does highlight how inherently flawed the patent system has become, and that whether copyrights, patents or trademarks, it's all become so lawyered up as to defeat the very purpose of these limited protections.

That it arguably poisons the well for the rest of us and human innovation at large is something future generations are going to have to come to grips with; in the meantime as I don't see any short-term end in sight. Not a good time to be a start-up in that space.

Re:those proverbial chickens are coming home to ro (2)

DCFusor (1763438) | about a year ago | (#42278449)

Mod parent up. Succinct statement of reality, rare.
Actually, it's been bad to be a startup for awhile. You can't invent any one thing, then bring it to market without stepping on 100's of patents at least, if it is significant - and why bother if it's not? Your one measly patent has no hope against a well-lawyer armed adversary who wants to lawyer you into the ground and steal your one patent from you in bankruptcy. You need a portfolio of 100's to 1000's of patents to get them interested in cross licensing. No startup can generate that.

I was a business owner (software dev for customers), then a VC. I've had to give up both, it's just too dangerous out there to be creative.

Free YOUR MIND Snickers really satisfies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42278243)

Memorable quotes for
Looker (1981)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082677/quotes [imdb.com]

"John Reston: Television can control public opinion more effectively than armies of secret police, because television is entirely voluntary. The American government forces our children to attend school, but nobody forces them to watch T.V. Americans of all ages *submit* to television. Television is the American ideal. Persuasion without coercion. Nobody makes us watch. Who could have predicted that a *free* people would voluntarily spend one fifth of their lives sitting in front of a *box* with pictures? Fifteen years sitting in prison is punishment. But 15 years sitting in front of a television set is entertainment. And the average American now spends more than one and a half years of his life just watching television commercials. Fifty minutes, every day of his life, watching commercials. Now, that's power."

##

"The United States has it's own propaganda, but it's very effective because people don't realize that it's propaganda. And it's subtle, but it's actually a much stronger propaganda machine than the Nazis had but it's funded in a different way. With the Nazis it was funded by the government, but in the United States, it's funded by corporations and corporations they only want things to happen that will make people want to buy stuff. So whatever that is, then that is considered okay and good, but that doesn't necessarily mean it really serves people's thinking - it can stupify and make not very good things happen."
- Crispin Glover: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000417/bio [imdb.com]

##

"It's only logical to assume that conspiracies are everywhere, because that's what people do. They conspire. If you can't get the message, get the man." - Mel Gibson (from an interview)

##

"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." - William Casey, CIA Director

##

"The real reason for the official secrecy, in most instances, is not to keep the opposition (the CIA's euphemistic term for the enemy) from knowing what is going on; the enemy usually does know. The basic reason for governmental secrecy is to keep you, the American public, from knowing - for you, too, are considered the opposition, or enemy - so that you cannot interfere. When the public does not know what the government or the CIA is doing, it cannot voice its approval or disapproval of their actions. In fact, they can even lie to your about what they are doing or have done, and you will not know it. As for the second advantage, despite frequent suggestion that the CIA is a rogue elephant, the truth is that the agency functions at the direction of and in response to the office of the president. All of its major clandestine operations are carried out with the direct approval of or on direct orders from the White House. The CIA is a secret tool of the president - every president. And every president since Truman has lied to the American people in order to protect the agency. When lies have failed, it has been the duty of the CIA to take the blame for the president, thus protecting him. This is known in the business as "plausible denial." The CIA, functioning as a secret instrument of the U.S. government and the presidency, has long misused and abused history and continues to do so."
- Victor Marchetti, Propaganda and Disinformation: How the CIA Manufactures History

##

George Carlin:

"The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they're an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They've got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. They've got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else.

But I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them. That's against their interests. They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago.

You know what they want? Obedient workers people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they're coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It's a big club, and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club.

This country is finished."

##

[1967] Jim Garrison Interview "In a very real and terrifying sense, our Government is the CIA and the Pentagon, with Congress reduced to a debating society. Of course, you can't spot this trend to fascism by casually looking around. You can't look for such familiar signs as the swastika, because they won't be there. We won't build Dachaus and Auschwitzes; the clever manipulation of the mass media is creating a concentration camp of the mind that promises to be far more effective in keeping the populace in line. We're not going to wake up one morning and suddenly find ourselves in gray uniforms goose-stepping off to work. But this isn't the test. The test is: What happens to the individual who dissents? In Nazi Germany, he was physically destroyed; here, the process is more subtle, but the end results can be the same. I've learned enough about the machinations of the CIA in the past year to know that this is no longer the dreamworld America I once believed in. The imperatives of the population explosion, which almost inevitably will lessen our belief in the sanctity of the individual human life, combined with the awesome power of the CIA and the defense establishment, seem destined to seal the fate of the America I knew as a child and bring us into a new Orwellian world where the citizen exists for the state and where raw power justifies any and every immoral act. I've always had a kind of knee-jerk trust in my Government's basic integrity, whatever political blunders it may make. But I've come to realize that in Washington, deceiving and manipulating the public are viewed by some as the natural prerogatives of office. Huey Long once said, "Fascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism." I'm afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security."

Apple: Ignore the double-standard! (4, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | about a year ago | (#42278493)

Because when someone else sues *Apple*, they're a "patent troll".

But when *Apple* does the same thing in suing others, they're just "protecting innovation".

Ow. Need to see an ophthalmologist now. I just rolled my eyes so hard I strained something.

Check out that patent list. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42278573)

The vast quantities of trivial shit of no value being granted patents is breathtaking.. I suspect the system is working as intended.

Lawyers protecting their cash cows.

Large corporations artifically inflating barrier to entry.

Institutionalized corruption in which everyone except the consumer wins.

So what? (1)

westlake (615356) | about a year ago | (#42278701)

MobileMedia has garnered the unflattering descriptor "patent troll" from some observers.

MobileMedia licenses patents held by Sony, Nokia, and MPEG LA. MPEG LA in turn licenses tech developed by global giants in manufacturing and R&D like Cisco, Mitsubishi, NTT, Philips, Samsung, Toshiba and so on. It is idiotic to argue that these guys don't make product or that their contributions to the evolution of mobile technologies are trivial.

Slashdot... Where patent trolls are evil!!! (1)

sdsucks (1161899) | about a year ago | (#42279271)

Where patent trolls are evil!!! ... unless they are suing Apple.

Strong convictions there, boys.

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