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The Strange History of Apple and FlatWorld

timothy posted about a year ago | from the surreal-world dept.

IOS 89

Fnord666 writes "When a company called FlatWorld Interactives LLC filed suit against Apple just over a year ago, it looked like a typical 'patent troll' lawsuit against a tech company, brought by someone who no longer had much of a business beyond lawsuits. Court documents unsealed this week reveal who's behind FlatWorld, and it's anything but typical. FlatWorld is partly owned by the named inventor on the patents, a Philadelphia design professor named Slavko Milekic. But 35 percent of the company has been quietly controlled by an attorney at one of Apple's own go-to law firms, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. E-mail logs show that the attorney, John McAleese, worked together with his wife and began planning a wide-ranging patent attack against Apple's touch-screen products in January 2007—just days after the iPhone was revealed to the world."

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Jobs threw down the gauntlet (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43946239)

At the iPhone introduction, Job said Apple "patented the hell out of it."

Re:Jobs threw down the gauntlet (1)

TheP4st (1164315) | about a year ago | (#43951023)

At the iPhone introduction, Job said Apple "patented the hell out of it."

Nice fanboy modding going on. Like it or not, the quote is not fiction.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/connieguglielmo/2012/08/21/the-apple-vs-samsung-patent-dispute-20-talking-points/2/

http://www.informationweek.com/hardware/handheld/apple-beats-competition-with-design-and/240006830

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=%22patented+the+hell+out+of+it%22

Re: Jobs threw down the gauntlet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43951069)

Jobs said "Boy, did we patented it."
Watch the keynote.

Btw : Google/Samsung fanbois tend to downmod inconvienient truth here, too.

Kill him (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43946247)

People like this should not be tolerated.

Too late (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43946385)

Jobs is already dead.

Ummm... (4, Insightful)

puddingebola (2036796) | about a year ago | (#43946259)

Not a lawyer, but doesn't this go under the banner of "conflict of interest"? If Apple has a strong relationship with this law firm, how does having a lawyer at that firm involved in a patent lawsuit against a company he may have represented in the past effect this? I'm sure this guy has probably thought that aspect of this patent fight through, but isn't that an obvious avenue of attack for Apple?

Re:Ummm... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43946309)

Am a lawyer, just because your firm has ties doesn't mean every attorney is tied to the company. As long as the attorney is effectively screened from any work involved with the company there is no conflict. It's rules 1.7, 1.8, and 1.10 (1.9 is duty to former clients). If this guy worked, personally, on Apple legal work then there's a problem. I don't know if that's the case. The summary just says he's at the firm so I'm guessing he didn't. But he began planning right after the announcement so maybe he talked with other attorneys that did work on it. That would be a conflict because the screening was not effective.

As usual with law, more facts are needed to know for sure.

Re:Ummm... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43946471)

He was CC'd on private Apple email threads within the firm, conflict of interest - nuff said.

also lol at anonymously claiming you're a lawyer online

Re:Ummm... (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#43946805)

also lol at anonymously claiming you're anonymous online

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/08/nsa-surveillance-prism-obama-live [guardian.co.uk]

Re:Ummm... (2)

Reeses (5069) | about a year ago | (#43948079)

A timestamp and a few IP addresses can fix that.

Re:Ummm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43950267)

Not if you're using Windows iOS or Mac.

Re:Ummm... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43946817)

I sited the rules so you can look there. My anonymity doesn't change ABA rules. Further, I stated that if he had access to Apple legal docs it would be a conflict. So, you're just agreeing with what I said. LOL all you want but what I wrote is correct.

Re:Ummm... (0, Flamebait)

sribe (304414) | about a year ago | (#43946833)

I sited the rules so you can look there. My anonymity doesn't change ABA rules. Further, I stated that if he had access to Apple legal docs it would be a conflict. So, you're just agreeing with what I said. LOL all you want but what I wrote is correct.

The fact that you don't know the difference between "cite" and "site" suggests to me that you are not an attorney ;-)

Re:Ummm... (5, Funny)

CrankyFool (680025) | about a year ago | (#43947829)

I'm not an attorney, but I'm married to one, and I can tell you that you just can't count on attorneys to be great spellers :)

Re:Ummm... (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about a year ago | (#43952101)

That's what paralegals are for. :)

Re:Ummm... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43949725)

Seriously. That's like somebody claiming to be a programmer saying he's been writing a lot of Sea lately. Somebody might not be a good speller, but this is a word he will have seen a hundred thousand times if he really was a lawyer.

Re:Ummm... (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43946887)

He's using tor and proxies YO! And Amazon super cloud. Also his IP address says he is from China! BUUURRNNNN HIMMM!!

Re:Ummm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43946559)

Your post lacks the requisite hyperbole and accusations for any Apple and/or Patent Troll thread. Please follow up with some scathing opinions. You're more than welcome to blame the user interface or even the mobile version of /.

Re:Ummm... (3, Funny)

justthinkit (954982) | about a year ago | (#43946849)

The novice posts a theory.
An expert refutes it.
Guess which one gets the +5.
Burma Shave!

Re:Ummm... (0)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#43947555)

As usual with law, more facts are needed to know for sure.

No problem. We can always Google for more facts.

Re:Ummm... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43948269)

well it would have been damn hard to start planning litigation about it before iPhone was announced.. now THAT would be suspicious. this not as much.

Re:Ummm... (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year ago | (#43949635)

This is informative, I wish I had mod points.

Re:Ummm... (0)

davydagger (2566757) | about a year ago | (#43946637)

In apple's patented Reality Distortion Field (tm) there is no conflict of intrest so long as it works in apple's favor.

The very notion of have an original idea is "stealing from apple"

Re:Ummm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43947207)

What's really funny is "Reality Distortion Field" has a different meaning to people within the Reality Distortion Field.

COI the other way (1)

MickLinux (579158) | about a year ago | (#43947637)

I'm going to point out that when your case is rotten, you fight the battle in the public sphere.

Having read the article, it looks to me like it was practically a PR release by apple. That being the case, I suspect that for some reason, Apple isn't likely to win this one.

Why???I don't know. But will point out that the law firm involved seems to have acted with privledged information against the interests of Flatworld. It is entirely possible that the same law firm represents two companies, and if that is the case here, then their liability could be huge--to Flatworld. It does not matter that one of their lawyers also owns a noncontrolling interest in the company, any more than if one owned stock in Disney and the lawsuit was between Disney and Apple.

Nor is it reasonable to require the plaintiff to suddenly change law firms. That looks like a delay-and-increase-costs move.

I suspect Apple therefore is soon going to be quietly making payments.

Re:COI the other way (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#43947925)

Soon ... making payments ... 6 years after the fact?

Not likely. Its clear they've been waiting in order to collect massive damages. That doesn't actually go over well, judges tend to tell you to go fuck yourself in those cases.

Re:COI the other way (1)

the_B0fh (208483) | about a year ago | (#43948519)

PR release via arstechnica? So now arstechnica should burn in hell too?

Wait, am I even reading the same article you are?

Re:COI the other way (1)

makomk (752139) | about a year ago | (#43951249)

Pretty much a PR release via Ars Technica. They're not questioning what Apple are saying in the slightest, and the general consensus seems to be that not only do conflict-of-interest rules not work the way that Ars Technica is portraying them as working, but also that the legal system wouldn't be able to function if they did. From what I recall the bit where they about the firm "letting one of its partners invest in a patent troll, especially one specially designed to target one of the firm's big clients" is outright false; that person's investment was in an actual company selling actual touch-screen technology to places like museums, made years before Apple started making touch-screen devices.

Re:COI the other way (1)

JBaustian (1204174) | about a year ago | (#43955979)

Absolutely nothing in this article suggests that FlatWorld is anything except a patent troll.

Sword (1, Insightful)

Frankie70 (803801) | about a year ago | (#43946295)

Live by the Sword. Die by the Sword.

More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (2)

bussdriver (620565) | about a year ago | (#43946617)

Apple wasn't huge on patents until a stupid patent lost them a bundle on the 1st iPod. After that, Apple patented anything and everything then entered into the fray. Remember they could have owned everything related to a GUI, Xerox sold them all the prior work.

Re:More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43946931)

Xerox didn't sell them anything. They were an early investor in Apple and allowed a couple of people from Apple to visit PARC. But sure keep deluding yourself.

Re:More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (1, Informative)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43947045)

Oh and Xerox only sued Apple after Apple sued Microsoft for copyright infringement. The fact is Apple was suing Microsoft for copying technology they themselves copied from PARC. This is typical Apple, presenting themselves as innovators and creators when in fact they are ripping off someone else's technology.

Re:More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (-1, Offtopic)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43947521)

Apple's rabid downmodders strike again! As usual they cannot handle the truth.

Re:More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (3, Informative)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43948699)

Xerox did go to trial to protect the Star user interface. In 1989, after Apple sued Microsoft for copyright infringement of its Macintosh user interface in Windows, Xerox filed a similar lawsuit against Apple; however, it was thrown out because a three year statute of limitations had passed. (Apple eventually lost its lawsuit in 1994, losing all claims to the user interface).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerox_Star [wikipedia.org]

Seemingly there are a lot of people here too lazy to use Google.

Re:More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (4, Informative)

dissy (172727) | about a year ago | (#43947505)

Xerox didn't sell them anything. They were an early investor in Apple and allowed a couple of people from Apple to visit PARC.

And Apple paid Xerox executives for that privilege.

But sure keep deluding yourself

It's a sad sad day when anti-technology trolls start arguing that handing over money in exchange for technology is not "selling"

But keep making up shit to try and look cool bashing Apple. It's worked so well this past decade. They keep on making money hand over fist despite you.

Re:More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (0)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43947821)

Since when has making profits meant having the moral high ground? Are you an Ayn Randite or what? Seriously.

Re:More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (0)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#43947933)

Since when does being an ignorant troll on slashdot given you the moral high ground?

Re:More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (0)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43947981)

You are the ignorant trolls. You downmod people for telling the truth.

Re:More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (0)

dissy (172727) | about a year ago | (#43948497)

Uhh, we have both posted, we can't mod even if we had points.

So just to sum up, exchanging money for information is not selling that information;
facts don't make a person right, bashing Apple does;
it can't possibly be you that is wrong despite tens of people proving it and showing you otherwise, it must be us downmodding you after having posted comments.

Man we have a smrt one here!

BTW, your now on my ignore list, so don't bother replying. I won't see it.

Re:More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43948669)

Reiterating: Apple exchanged no money for information. Xerox paid for Apple stock. Some management people in Xerox gave access to PARC for a couple of Apple personnel as a goodwill gesture. Apple certainly weren't entitled to have it. Several PARC employees were against it back then as they saw Apple as a possible competitor. Eventually they were proven right.

It seems you believe in the intelligence of the masses. However the masses are not always right. As a quick trip to Wikipedia or contemporary Byte magazine stories would have shown you. But sure. Keep being ignorant. If you want to ignore me to protect your own ignorance that is certainly your prerrogative.

Re:More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#43949747)

The term you seem not to understand is "compensation". Not all compensation is strictly money. In exchange for the information (and right to talk to PARC engineers), Xerox got the opportunity to buy Apple stock pre-IPO. While it is not confirmed, It is rumored that Xerox made $35M in net profits. Also what you seem not to understand is that Xerox agreed to the deal.

Re:More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43955361)

Did I say anywhere that Xerox management didn't agree that Apple personnel could visit PARC? What I find interesting is how Apple fans paint this deal with Xerox. At the time Apple was founded it was hardly certain they would be successful in the 16-bit market and a lot of companies back then failed before even getting to an IPO. The 8-bit Apple II, their main product back then, sold reasonably well in the education market but the C-64 outsold it in the home market while the Atari 800 also took off the shelves very well. Commodore back, then besides selling the C-64, owned MOS Technology which manufactured the CPU for all these machines. Apple was another personal computer manufacturer. Back then there were no shortage of competing platforms.

Xerox paid cash for that pre-IPO Apple stock. It's not like Apple just gave them the shares just in exchange for the visit. That is simply disingenuous. Knowing about the history of other private companies attempting to launch a new 16-bit personal computer back then (e.g. Hi-Toro later known as Amiga Corporation) I highly suspect this kind of view of the situation back then. Releasing a new computer was capital intensive enough that many of these companies nearly failed because of cash flow problems.

Re:More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#43955523)

Did I say anywhere that Xerox management didn't agree that Apple personnel could visit PARC? What I find interesting is how Apple fans paint this deal with Xerox. At the time Apple was founded it was hardly certain they would be successful in the 16-bit market and a lot of companies back then failed before even getting to an IPO. The 8-bit Apple II, their main product back then, sold reasonably well in the education market but the C-64 outsold it in the home market while the Atari 800 also took off the shelves very well. Commodore back, then besides selling the C-64, owned MOS Technology which manufactured the CPU for all these machines. Apple was another personal computer manufacturer. Back then there were no shortage of competing platforms.

And what does this have to do with whether or not Xerox sold to Apple certain rights? This is what the OP said: "Xerox sold them all the prior work" to which you vehemently argued: "Xerox didn't sell them anything." Not all compensation is cash.

Xerox paid cash for that pre-IPO Apple stock. It's not like Apple just gave them the shares just in exchange for the visit. That is simply disingenuous.

Um, am I arguing this point with you? What I'm saying to you which you're not understanding is that there was a deal made. Xerox did not receive cash for the rights they gave Apple. But they were compensated and they agreed to the deal. In the end, Xerox made a lot of money on the deal than pure cash.

Knowing about the history of other private companies attempting to launch a new 16-bit personal computer back then (e.g. Hi-Toro later known as Amiga Corporation) I highly suspect this kind of view of the situation back then. Releasing a new computer was capital intensive enough that many of these companies nearly failed because of cash flow problems.

All of these points are irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

Re:More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43957051)

You don't get it. Xerox allowed Apple to visit PARC. But they did not give them any copyright licenses or patent licenses or anything like that. Back then software couldn't be easily patented. Copyright was the usual way of enforcement. Why do you think Xerox sued Apple? The lawsuit only failed because the statute of limitations passed i.e. Xerox took too long to sue Apple after they released an infringing product.

Re:More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#43957983)

You don't get it. Xerox allowed Apple to visit PARC. But they did not give them any copyright licenses or patent licenses or anything like that. Back then software couldn't be easily patented.

And when did I say Apple got copyrights? NOWHERE. Apple got rights to use concepts and ideas they saw at Xerox PARC. For which Xerox was compensated. The PARC engineers didn't want to but they were ordered by HQ.

Why do you think Xerox sued Apple?

Because a dozen years later, under new management, they forgot about their deal. SCO forgot or ignored the fact that Novell didn't sell them Unix copyrights only the Unix business. It took years to resolve SCO v Novell even though SCO never had a case.

The lawsuit only failed because the statute of limitations passed i.e. Xerox took too long to sue Apple after they released an infringing product.

Wrong. Apple claimed statute of limitations as a defense but that is not why the court rejected 5 of 6 Xerox's claims [obamapacman.com] . The judge gave Xerox 30 days to come up with evidence for the last claim however the last claim was not seeking damages and was insignificant.

Re:More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43966947)

You don't get it. Xerox allowed Apple to visit PARC. But they did not give them any copyright licenses or patent licenses or anything like that. Back then software couldn't be easily patented. Copyright was the usual way of enforcement. Why do you think Xerox sued Apple? The lawsuit only failed because the statute of limitations passed i.e. Xerox took too long to sue Apple after they released an infringing product.

So you are claiming that Apple infringed on copyright grounds, then.

Please tell me what copyright infringements you would expect to find between, on the one hand, an operating system written in a mix of 68000 assembly language and Apple Pascal, and on the other, an OS written for Xerox's custom Alto and Star workstation CPUs in a mixture of BCPL and Mesa?

Regardless of random claims in a wikipedia article, there is essentially no chance that any viable copyright claim existed, statute of limitations be damned (and since when did copyright expire in less than 20 years???). Copyright doesn't protect ideas, it protects specific expressions of them, aka "works". You can only violate it by copying part or all of an existing work. Apple did something which was conceptually similar at the surface level, but it was all their own work. That was (and still is) perfectly fine as far as copyright law is concerned. It's the exact same reason why countless authors are free to write vampire novels to cash in on the craze. So long as they actually create their own characters and write their own words, they're legally in the clear.

Re:More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (1)

houghi (78078) | about a year ago | (#43952119)

It's a sad sad day when anti-technology trolls start arguing that handing over money in exchange for technology is not "selling".

If they sell me their phones, am I allowed to do with as I please? If they sell me their software, am I to do with as I please? If they sell me their computer files, am I to do with as I please?
According to Apple, Microsoft, Sony and others the answer to that would be NO.

Re:More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43948583)

Remember they could have owned everything related to a GUI, Xerox sold them all the prior work.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Computer,_Inc._v._Microsoft_Corporation [wikipedia.org]

they tried exactly that. selective memory is great!

Re:More like, get hurt by a sword, pick up a sword (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about a year ago | (#43955733)

I remembered that case. 1994 was over a decade after the Xerox exchange. That case wasn't about the mouse or many of their ideas and they didn't have patents it was a copyright case and part of their position is that microsoft agreed with them because they had a formal agreement which they thought Microsoft was violating. Xerox's part in that case was not relevant as they had sold their rights away to Apple long before that time.

Apple was taking copyright too far and didn't bribe enough people; which is why copyright is pretty weak today (except for music or film) but patents have gone crazy in the scope of their application. You can make a game that is nearly the same but tweak it slightly and as long as you don't take their code or graphics you are safe; but do something similar in the patent realm and you couldn't even make a 1st person shooter if somebody had a patent on that.

It's all about the precedents baby (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43946311)

Stare decisis. Once Apple sets a precedent after knocking down their straw men in court, it makes it that much harder for someone to really come after them over the same thing in the future. It's how business owns our legal system.

Good for FlatWorld (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43946341)

It's somewhat ironic that this story should pop up three stories after the story about Apple patenting existing digital wallet technology [slashdot.org] .

(And hey, at least FlatWorld's patents are actual technology and not rounded corners, so they've got that going for them too.)

That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (4, Informative)

TechForensics (944258) | about a year ago | (#43946343)

IAAL and I can tell you Mr. McAleese will not be a member of the bar much longer. As attorney offenses go, this is toxic / nuclear.

This case will disappear quickly now that the real party-in-interest is revealed.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (4, Interesting)

BoRegardless (721219) | about a year ago | (#43946419)

I doubt it will disappear.

Apple will now have recourse against the specific attorney and maybe his law firm and the original patent holder.

In this specific case, I don't think Apple will say "Let bygones be bygones." They will want every cent of their costs paid at the very least and damages due to a corrupted counsel not doing their best for Apple's interests because of the conspiracy between known and unknown attorneys.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43946427)

Yup. As much as I think Apple is a patent abuse offender, this is exceedingly dishonest. McAleese had insider knowledge from the emails he was privy to, he deserves to be disbarred.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (4, Funny)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#43946635)

That's what I was thinking. He's lost his job, no firm will rehire him and he'll be disbarred. He'll probably wind up writing story summaries for Slashdot.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43946435)

IAAL and I can tell you Mr. McAleese will not be a member of the bar much longer. As attorney offenses go, this is toxic / nuclear.

This case will disappear quickly now that the real party-in-interest is revealed.

I don't know. It sounds like he's building his resume to try a get a job with the RIAA or MPAA.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43946505)

IAAL and I can tell you Mr. McAleese will not be a member of the bar much longer. As attorney offenses go, this is toxic / nuclear.

Is it toxic because Apple is a giant company that most members of Congress are in love with and would secretly bang in the men's bathroom? I'm totally serious: They're the largest company on Earth... why the hell does anyone care how much, often, or with what merit, they're sued? I'm not a lawyer, but as an average person, I'm thoroughly convinced the courts exist solely so rich people can try and out-douche each other. Poor people get no representation. So since this is one rich douchebag engaging another rich douchebag, the very thing our court systems and patent law caters to... why would anyone ban them from practicing law? They're simply doing what everyone else is... they're just smaller... and not as good at it.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (3, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#43946697)

Although the legal profession often manages to live up to their reputation, try living in a world WITHOUT a functioning legal system.

The reality is that poor people often (not always) do have access to legal representation. It's spotty, insufficient coverage and like many things (health care comes to mind) the members of the group and society as a whole ought to be working harder, much harder, at improving things.

But look around you. You want Somalia? Russia? India? China?

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (2, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43946769)

But look around you. You want Somalia? Russia? India? China?

Okay first, I get your point. And I agree with it. The rule of law is essential to civilization. So let me put that out there first.

But, if you look at the history of every empire, every major civilization, you will find a pattern of increasing legal complexity to the point that the system itself caves under its own excesses. It becomes pathological and toxic to the purpose it was meant to serve, and ultimately strangles itself. If you read enough anthropology you find that civilization is cyclical -- it starts with anarchy, advances to a golden age, and then dies of increasing bureaucratic, legal, and political complexity, and the cycle repeats.

America has passed its golden age. It is now on the downward slope towards eventual anarchy. The rule of law is becoming less and less accessible to more and more people. Crime rates are up. Incarceration is up. The government is spending more and more on law enforcement every year, and more and more on military as well. These things are classic signs of a society accelerating towards oblivion. I don't know that it can be reversed. I have yet to see a historical example where it was. I'd like to think it is possible, but empirically, that's a spot of wishful thinking more than anything.

I know I was brief and snarky in the OP, but there is an underlying truth: This complexity does not serve the interests of the common person. It serves wealthy interests. So when I hear about the corruption of the system and people in it saying "Oh no, this guy went too far" I take it with a big grain of salt. Maybe it is going too far, but that's the general trend... and since I know of no way of reversing or correcting it, it's not really newsworthy for me. It's just history repeating.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43946835)

What year, exactly, did America pass its golden age? You'd be surprised how many times people have said "America has passed its prime", over the decades before you were even a passing thought in your parents minds before you were born.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43947025)

What year, exactly, did America pass its golden age? You'd be surprised how many times people have said "America has passed its prime", over the decades before you were even a passing thought in your parents minds before you were born.

It would be the point when children have less than their parents. Or about 20 years ago now.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#43947547)

What year, exactly, did America pass its golden age? You'd be surprised how many times people have said "America has passed its prime", over the decades before you were even a passing thought in your parents minds before you were born.

It would be the point when children have less than their parents. Or about 20 years ago now.

This is likely true, but the slump could also be attributed to the baby boomers; once they all die and wealth gets redistributed, it is possible that everything will go back to the previous trend. Not likely, IMO, but possible. More likely that all the boomers' wealth will go to international corporations, overseas interests, and a privileged few, as has been the trend during the boomer shakedown years.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43951869)

The baby boomer dieing won't redistribute wealth very far. I heard a statistic recently that the top 400* earners in the USA make more than the bottom 50% of Americans, this sort of inequality won't be fixed with a few or even a lot of boomers dieing.

* I think, it was certainly a ridiculously small number.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#43975267)

All this statistic really says though is that the bottom 50% of Americans and the top 50% of Americans have a major income disparity.

Say the top 400 earners combined make 400 billion dollars. Say the bottom 50% make 399 billion dollars. The US population in 2012 was 313.9 million.

That means that averaged across ALL Americans (including newborns, children, people in jail*, etc.) the bottom 50% (which would include ALL those not earning a wage that I just listed), the average annual wage would be ~2.5 million US dollars.

* 1 out of every 142 Americans was in jail in 2002 -- that just blows my mind.

I'd guess that everyone above 50% is earning something, so the average would be significantly higher.

Of course, these numbers are just pulled out of thin air; they just show you that your statistics say almost nothing useful. In reality, the median household wage in 2012 was just over $50,000 (that's median, not average).

In reality, 30% of US households (households, not people) were earning under $35,000/year in 2012. Roughly 9% of households were making over $150,000/year. Just over 2% were making over $250,000/year. Now even this says not much, as cost of living varies widely depending on location. In many places, you can get a really nice house with acreage for $80,000. In other areas, that's how much it would cost one person to subsist in a 1 bedroom apartment for a year (rent plus necessities plus utilities -- the same house would cost upwards of $5 million).

Now compare that to other countries, where the average wage for the 99% is around $1,200/year (yes, that's THOUSAND).

Since most of the boomers would be in the top 50% unaccounted for by the above statistics,

Here's the real info (from Wikipedia, so take it with a grain of salt):

Age of householder

Household income in the United States varies substantially with the age of the person who heads the household. Overall, the median household income increased with the age of householder until retirement age when household income started to decline.[29] The highest median household income was found among households headed by working baby-boomers.[29]

Households headed by persons between the ages of 45 and 54 had a median household income of $61,111 and a mean household income of $77,634. The median income per member of household for this particular group was $27,924. The highest median income per member of household was among those between the ages of 54 and 64 with $30,544 [The reason this figure is lower than the next group is because Pensions and Social Security add to income while a portion of older individuals also have work-related income.]).[29]

The group with the second highest median household income, were households headed by persons between the ages 35 and 44 with a median income of $56,785, followed by those in the age group between 55 and 64 with $50,400. Not surprisingly the lowest income group was composed of those households headed by individuals younger than 24, followed by those headed by persons over the age of 75. Overall, households headed by persons above the age of seventy-five had a median household income of $20,467 with the median household income per member of household being $18,645. These figures support the general assumption that median household income as well as the median income per member of household peaked among those households headed by middle aged persons, increasing with the age of the householder and the size of the household until the householder reaches the age of 64. With retirement income replacing salaries and the size of the household declining, the median household income decreases as well.[29]
Aggregate income distribution

The aggregate income measures the combined income earned by all persons in a particular income group. In 2007, all households in the United States earned roughly $7.723 trillion.[30] One half, 49.98%, of all income in the US was earned by households with an income over $100,000, the top twenty percent. Over one quarter, 28.5%, of all income was earned by the top 8%, those households earning more than $150,000 a year. The top 3.65%, with incomes over $200,000, earned 17.5%. Households with annual incomes from $50,000 to $75,000, 18.2% of households, earned 16.5% of all income. Households with annual incomes from $50,000 to $95,000, 28.1% of households, earned 28.8% of all income. The bottom 10.3% earned 1.06% of all income.

So, this deals with income. Once people hit retirement, the majority lives off of savings, and has virtually no income. Since boomers are hitting this retirement age in droves now, they're taking all that accumulated wealth out of the system, but slowly feeding it back as well. When they die, all that accumulated wealth has to go somewhere; it doesn't just vanish.

I think this officially can be moderated as off-topic at this point; we've gone a LONG way from patent MAD to this thread. But it still provides some interesting back story, when the numbers are placed in context.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (1)

MickLinux (579158) | about a year ago | (#43947731)

That's only defining it in terms of posessions, which is an iffy issue at best. Instead, perhaps define it as the point at which destruction of wealth passed creation of wealth: though many would put that 60 years ago, , arguably I'd put it just about 80 years ago.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43947761)

I agree with your point, girlintraining - but, having lived through it all, I will disagree (if only on anecdotal grounds) with your timing.

I maintain - and have for decades - that the point where historians will someday place their little "here marks the apex of this empire" arrow was right around the time of the Korean War.

If you happen to believe, as I do, that the corruption of language is a leading indicator of an empire's decline, then that serves to reinforce my point. Oh - pardon me: I meant Police Action, of course...

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#43947515)

1991. The year that our principle enemy (the USSR) and reason for existence collapsed. US culture is built upon the need for conflict to provide motivation and stoke the fires of nationalism. Without a war to fight, we are lost*.

Our current enemies consist of lunatic, weakling dictators and batshit crazy theocracies. If one measures ones self by ones enemies, we have fallen quite a distance since the Old War.

*Rome began its long slide into oblivion when it overreached its military capabilities on its borders. It then turned inwards and began attacking factions within its own empire. Think of the mess the Praetorian Guard could have caused if they had Prism back then.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#43947947)

Its amazing that people like you work so hard to turn winning into losing.

We've 'fallen' because we succeeded?

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#43953149)

We didn't win. Russia got smart and walked away from the game.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (1)

Agent0013 (828350) | about a year ago | (#43964747)

Its amazing that people like you work so hard to turn winning into losing.

We've 'fallen' because we succeeded?

You obviously have never watched "War Games". The only winning move is not to play.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (1)

Agent0013 (828350) | about a year ago | (#43964715)

It was 50 to 100 years after the fall of the Roman empire that the majority of the Roman citizens realized the empire had fallen. Just because you can't tell where the line is while you are crossing it, doesn't mean it won't be there for historians to look back and say it happened.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (1)

ultranova (717540) | about a year ago | (#43948737)

If you read enough anthropology you find that civilization is cyclical -- it starts with anarchy, advances to a golden age, and then dies of increasing bureaucratic, legal, and political complexity, and the cycle repeats.

Can you give an example of a civilization that collapsed for these reasons, rather than some combination of ecological catastrophe, foreign invasion and/or plague? Because I can't think of any.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (1)

russotto (537200) | about a year ago | (#43948761)

Can you give an example of a civilization that collapsed for these reasons, rather than some combination of ecological catastrophe, foreign invasion and/or plague? Because I can't think of any.

Rome. The western empire didn't collapse because it was invaded; it was invaded because it had already rotted out from the inside.

Re: That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43948741)

As an Indian citizen, I'll pick India over the United States any day of the week :)

Re: That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43950845)

Immigration flows suggest you are in a distinct minority.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43946829)

It's toxic because there are (believe it or not) ethical rules for lawyers. Using attorney-client privileged information to sue a client is a big no-no.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (1)

the_B0fh (208483) | about a year ago | (#43948529)

In this case, he was caught pissing in the very pond he lives in. The other residents of the pond hate that. You can pee over anyone else, just not in your own pond.

Re:That Lawyer will not be a lawyer much longer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43951921)

Unless this tanks the case, the attorney involved may make enough from this he won't need or want to work any more. So the more important issue is how this will affect the plaintiff's case?

After Nuclear War.. (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#43946627)

Only Cockroaches and Lawyers will survive. The Lawyers will thus attempt to sue the Cockroaches for damages.

Re:After Nuclear War.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43946901)

The cockroaches will retaliate by chewing the lawyers's skin off in their sleep and laying eggs in their fatty layer. The cockroach young will then burrow in and eat the lawyers alive.

Re:After Nuclear War.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43948041)

The cockroaches will retaliate by chewing the lawyers's skin off in their sleep and laying eggs in their fatty layer. The cockroach young will then burrow in and eat the lawyers alive.

We can only hope.

Nothing here to see move on. (0, Troll)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about a year ago | (#43946649)

McAleese is an environmental lawyer -- nothing to do with Apple -- no conflict.
Also way back when McAleese actually told the law firm of hise involvement with Flatland.

In the end this is just Apple throwing another hissy fit, because really that is what Apple has been about since the Apple III and the Mac.

Unsurprising. (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about a year ago | (#43946731)

During a feeding frenzy, a shark which is accidentally bitten and begins bleeding will often be eaten by another shark.

Re:Unsurprising. (1)

blade8086 (183911) | about a year ago | (#43947273)

Indeed:

Newsflash: Greedy Patent Troll Developer Hires Unscrupulous Lawyers to Sue!

I fail to see how this is any different..

We've got a term for this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43946919)

It's called "Pulling a Rambus"

Re:We've got a term for this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43947663)

Another lawyer giving a RIMM job?

Plan "B" (1)

geoskd (321194) | about a year ago | (#43947203)

This is a perfect example of a "company" that cant bring a viable product to market, trying to extract money from anyone they can in lieu of having any actual skill.

The primary patent holder in this case has admitted that he has virtually no programming skills whatsoever, and has used third party packages to attempt to provide a software / hardware solution. He is a psychologist. They had two contracts in 2 and a half years, and bungled one of them so badly as to virtually guarantee the death of the company.

This is exactly why the patent office should (and I thought does) require a working device before allowing a patent...

Morgan Lewis and Bockius drunken parties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43951175)

ask 'em about the time the lawyers trashed a Georgetown hotel bar... silly bottomfeeders...

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