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Boston U. Patent Lawsuits Hit Apple, Amazon, Samsung, and Others

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the can't-say-a-lightbulb-went-off-in-their-heads dept.

Education 147

curtwoodward writes "First, we heard that Boston University — a private, four-year school overshadowed by neighbors like MIT and Harvard — was suing Apple for patent infringement. Well, sure, patent lawsuits in tech are an everyday thing, right? But it turns out this is not a one-off: BU has been quietly filing a barrage of patent lawsuits since last fall, all of them revolving around the same patents for LED and semiconductor technology. And the targets run the gamut, from Apple and Amazon to Samsung and several small companies that distribute or sell LEDs and other equipment. A couple of small guys have settled, but Amazon and Samsung are refusing. Still to come: Apple's response."

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147 comments

Wow (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 10 months ago | (#44183647)

Thank goodness we've got this method for promoting progress in the useful arts.

Re:Wow (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 10 months ago | (#44184437)

Yes, it would be better if we let corporation run roughshod over the universities and people who actually develop things.

No, actually... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44184529)

It would be better if we adequately taxed corporations to fund this research and then allowed it to be publicly released to all, such that any person who could turn the research into an application could have the opportunity without fear of patent trolls.

But that's just crazy talk afterall. I mean slitting a city/county/state's own fiscal wrists to allow a company to locate themselves there is necessary in this tough economic climate, isn't it? :-P

Re:No, actually... (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 10 months ago | (#44187451)

It would be better if we adequately taxed corporations to fund this research and then allowed it to be publicly released to all, such that any person who could turn the research into an application could have the opportunity without fear of patent trolls.

But that's just crazy talk afterall. I mean slitting a city/county/state's own fiscal wrists to allow a company to locate themselves there is necessary in this tough economic climate, isn't it? :-P

I've got a better idea. Any products produced with patents/research that were publicly funded have to have the proceeds prorated between the corporate and public contribution with the public portion returned back to the government. If the government paid for 80% of the research, then 80% of the profit goes back to the treasury. If private funds were used, then they can do with it what they want.

Why should the taxpayer pay for the research so that some corporation can charge the consumer/taxpayer back for the product?

Re:Wow (-1)

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Not a troll on the surface. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44183693)

On the surface this sounds like patents which relate to semiconductor physics and process technologies.

This is _exactly_ the kind of thing the patent system was designed for! They're not goofy/obvious/stupid software patents - they are extremely complicated and non-trivial processes.

This isn't a "rounded corners" case and doesn't look like a patent troll.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#44183901)

On the surface this sounds like patents which relate to semiconductor physics and process technologies.

This is _exactly_ the kind of thing the patent system was designed for! They're not goofy/obvious/stupid software patents - they are extremely complicated and non-trivial processes.

This isn't a "rounded corners" case and doesn't look like a patent troll.

Yes it is a troll.

Look, Apple doesn't manufacture ANYTHING. Neither does AMAZON. The companies they hire to build their devices buy parts on the open market.
Those parts manufacturers (which may include Samsung) are the proper targets for Lawsuits if Boston U actually has a case. Not someone simply buying a component on the market and using it. Especially when those components have been available on the market for 20 years.

B.U. might just as well sue YOU for using a LED without a license.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (0)

corran__horn (178058) | about 10 months ago | (#44184029)

If I were using the technology for non-personal use? I would probably have to chat with a lawyer, as this is the kind of thing with teeth.

Apple and Samsung do actually make things, and they import, and they sell. Your analogy is quite off-base in asserting that a person would be hit under this for the same reason that the Apple vs. Samsung judgement didn't include 10million John Does who had purchased the device.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#44184141)

The University failed to defend their patent while all sorts of third parties put the devices into production and sold them openly on the components market world wide. Apple produces nothing. They don't have a single Fab. They buy parts on the open market, and have them delivered to Foxconn.

Open market commodities, uncontested by the claimed patent holder do not become violations simple by being incorporated into a device.

BU manufacturers nothing except lawsuit. Google "patent assertion entities" and learn what trolling is all about.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (0)

geekoid (135745) | about 10 months ago | (#44184469)

". Apple produces nothing. "
and that matted why? oh, because you continue to wallow.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

sjames (1099) | about 10 months ago | (#44184921)

Sara Lee makes things too. But like Apple and Amazon, they don't make LEDs and they don't use the patented technique.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44184371)

damn I have to throw away my LED flash lights.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (0)

geekoid (135745) | about 10 months ago | (#44184463)

No it is not a troll.
Appla and Amazon design the products, the manufacturer is just using their design.

we have a problem with some type of patents. I could write a very lengthy and detail post about that; but idiots like you confuse the issues with your ignorance. Ignorance would be fine, but people like you seem wallow in their ignorance.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (2)

putaro (235078) | about 10 months ago | (#44185701)

I doubt Apple or Amazon is specifying how the LEDs are made. This is a weirdness in patent law, in that you can sue the user of patent infringing part, not the manufacturer.

Re: Not a troll on the surface. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44184489)

What makes you think that won't be next? Or that the costs of settlements won't be passed on to consumers?

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

garyoa1 (2067072) | about 10 months ago | (#44184729)

While that may be true in many, if not most cases... doesn't matter. Say Apple (or whoever) designs it. Sends the specs to a manufacturer. The manufacturer produces what they design.

IF there's something they have to build from the plans and use I doubt they would be researching every little screw and rivet. As far as they're concerned if they have a design submitted to them it's up to the company that submitted it to have the legal right to it, not the manufacturer.

In that scenario, if you're a company and design something and submit it to a manufacturer for a quote you'd probably get one in a week or so. The quote that is. They would start production 20 years later once their patent research is done.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 10 months ago | (#44185087)

BINGO!!!

Those companies that actually manufacture the COMPONENTS covered by the patents are liable, if they are infringing.

Customers aren't liable. It's insane that today's legal "minds" see all purchasing customers as potential defendants in these lawsuits. Slippery slope, anyone? The police could be searching your home and business, looking for any potentially infringing devices that you might own, and imposing fees and penalties on each device.

The university needs to go after the people who are manufacturing the component, and no one else. IF, that is, they actually have a case.

Re: Not a troll on the surface. (1)

nomadic (141991) | about 10 months ago | (#44185729)

That makes absolutely no sense. Apple designs the products, hires someone to make the product, gets the product back and sells it to the public. They are at both ends of that chain.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44186985)

Wrong, complete and utterly wrong.

Sorry, Mr. Apple zealot, but this is exactly what Apple are doing when they sue others over Android software functionality. They aren't going for Google, they're going for those than sell the final product.

You can't have it both ways, despite the strength of your unreality bubble.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (2)

Rob Y. (110975) | about 10 months ago | (#44183971)

Yeah, but why Apple? Then don't make any semiconductors. Isn't payment of patent royalties the responsibility of the manufacturer of the LED's? If not, how can anybody build anything out of parts sourced from other companies? You'd have no way of knowing what patents you were responsible for clearing rights to.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (5, Informative)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 10 months ago | (#44184153)

Is it's a US patent, the entity that imports the infringing item gets sued.
You can't sue someone in China to manufacturing it.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

meerling (1487879) | about 10 months ago | (#44184579)

Doesn't seem to stop law enforcement these days for everything else, why should this be any different?

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (4, Insightful)

ChrisMaple (607946) | about 10 months ago | (#44184167)

why Apple?

Looks like BU failed to secure a patent outside the US, where, in all likelihood, the LEDs are being manufactured. Well, I believe that BU's patent gives them the right to exclude the patented devices from being brought into the US. Since they aren't being seized by customs (which may be what should be happening), BU is going after the organization with deep pockets that's importing the devices in a finished product.

Two things are outrageous here. BU appears to be suing for dollar amounts absurdly in excess of the marginal utility of its invention. And BU is suing long after the patent was issued, never having defended the patent before, which weakens their case considerably (because it is similar to entrapment.)

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (2)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 10 months ago | (#44184355)

Also BU is going after those that bought the technology rather than those that used it in manufacturing. For example, Intel claims they invented 3D transistor tech in their 22nm chips. Well if someone were to sue for patent violation for this technology, would they go after Intel or would they go after Apple, Dell, HP, Lenovo, for using those chips? At best, the courts would recognize that the OEMs are third parties to the suit.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

jkflying (2190798) | about 10 months ago | (#44186021)

The trouble is if the device manufacturer doesn't have a US representation. Then the company that does the importing of the infringing goods is liable, in this case Amazon, Apple and Samsung.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 10 months ago | (#44187125)

Yes but in order to sue those parties which BU knows are not direct infringers, they must sue them as contributory infringers. Under this aspect, BU must prove that the contributory infringers knew both the existence of the patent and the patent violation.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 10 months ago | (#44187165)

BU appears to be suing for dollar amounts absurdly in excess of the marginal utility of its invention.

Isn't that the norm? You ask for a few beeellion dollars, the offending end product to be crushed to powder and shot into the sun, and the firstborn of the company's executives to be sacrificed to Ba'al. Then you settle out of court for something more reasonable.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

FunPika (1551249) | about 10 months ago | (#44184263)

Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States, or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent

Unless there is something else in there to prevent it, I imagine that "uses" would mean that if someone was willing for their organization to become the most hated in the country, they could go around suing every iPhone user in sight for patent infringement.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 10 months ago | (#44184281)

Because Apple is re-selling the LEDs? I think patent law does apply here, although usually what happens it that if the company being sued turns around and sues their supplier.

There is an "exhaustion doctrine" but it only applies if the suppliers were authorized to sell the items in the first place. Ie, the patent holder can't restrict downstream reselling of the devices (similar to first-sale doctrine), though possibly there could be restrictions added in the original licensing agreement. Since this only applies in the case of authorized selling by the first party, it seems to imply that an unauthorized selling of a device protected by patent does not protect the downstream reseller.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (3, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 10 months ago | (#44184401)

Yes, patent exhaustion applies when their was a licensed sale; however, that doesn't apply here. For BU to go after Apple and others, they would have to prove that they knew that these products were violating patents. I would think Amazon and others would simply give BU the information about their suppliers. Also there may be multiple middlemen here. For example Amazon sells a product that was manufactured that has technology in question. But the company that made the product actually bought it as a component from someone else and so on.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

oreaq (817314) | about 10 months ago | (#44187257)

For BU to go after Apple and others, they would have to prove that they knew that these products were violating patents

Wrong. "Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States, or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent."

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (3, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 10 months ago | (#44187375)

There are two parts you missed:

Except as otherwise provided in this title . . . any patented invention . . .

You only quoted part (a) of US 271 [cornell.edu] which deals with direct infringing of a whole invention. Part (c) deals with contributory infringement of a part:

Whoever offers to sell or sells within the United States or imports into the United States a component of a patented machine, manufacture, combination or composition, or a material or apparatus for use in practicing a patented process, constituting a material part of the invention,knowing the same to be especially made or especially adapted for use in an infringement of such patent, and not a staple article or commodity of commerce suitable for substantial noninfringing use, shall be liable as a contributory infringer.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 10 months ago | (#44187287)

No they don't have to prove any such thing. They just have to prove that their patented technology is used to make the LEDs and that Your Name Here imported the LEDs. They can block import of any devices containing their patented technology. Ignorance of your infringement may cause the jury to be sympathetic and decide not to award large damages, but it won't prevent an import ban.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 10 months ago | (#44187403)

Look up USC 271 [cornell.edu] . Part (a) and (b) deal with direct infringement of a whole invention within the US. Part (c) deals with components and imports which is applicable here. The way I read the patent, it was on a manufacturing process. Amazon has the least exposure here as they are the furthest from the manufacturing side. Apple uses contract manufacturing and Samsung does more direct manufacturing.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 10 months ago | (#44184407)

It's the same as the case about all-in-one printers. The relevant troll was not suing HP or Brother. The relevant troll was suing companies who perhaps bought an HP or Brother printer with the capabilities described in the relevant patent.

Most of these cases are probably bogus for the same reason.

As much as I would like to enjoy some shadenfreude at Apple's expense, they should not be subjected to this kind of nonsense any more than anyone else.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 10 months ago | (#44187295)

No, it is not like that at all. That would be like Boston University suing each individual customer who bought something that contains a LED. They're not doing that.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (2)

mcgrew (92797) | about 10 months ago | (#44184049)

I wonder if Isaac Asimov is turning in his grave? Boston University is where he taught and did cancer research in the 1950s.

Well then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44184569)

Maybe they can sue Lucas*(Now a wholly owned subsidiary of Disney) for trademark and IP infringement for their use of 'droid' which is an obvious contraction of android and thus subject to intellectual property claims to be made by the Asimov estate/his alma mater (or something similiarly ridiculous).

At least that would be doing a service for nerds everywhere :)

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (3, Interesting)

LordLucless (582312) | about 10 months ago | (#44184195)

This is _exactly_ the kind of thing the patent system was designed for! They're not goofy/obvious/stupid software patents - they are extremely complicated and non-trivial processes.

So how are all these companies using this technology? I can see three scenarios:

1) They figured the processes out themselves, from scratch, despite them being complex and non-trivial. Complexity and non-triviality don't make something patentable; the standard is non-obvious to a person skilled in the art. If multiple other parties developed it from scratch, it is obvious to a person skilled in the art, hence the person is invalid, and the case trolling.

2) All these companies accessed the patent in order to develop their process, but didn't pay for it. This could be the result of a license dispute, or just outright douchery. In this case, the case is legitimate.

3) A manufacturer either performed point 1 or point 2, and is a common supplier to the targets. In this case, the patent holder should have gone after that manufacturer; using a scatter-gun approach to target end-users is abusive, just as much as the people who send threatening letters to small companies using fax machines. In this case, they may have a legitimate case against the original manufacturer, but their cases against the retailers are illegitimate.

It sounds like #3 is the most likely

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

bmacs27 (1314285) | about 10 months ago | (#44185271)

Option 4, multiple R&D departments had employees that follow the literature. The work from BU was most likely published under the presumption that they were protected by their patent. Is it incumbent on the patent holder to promptly prove violations of their patent? How are they supposed to be omniscient about manufacturing processes and the like? They probably ought to just settle.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 10 months ago | (#44185399)

I don't follow physics journals, but in the areas I follow, stuff in journals that's patented is usually indicated as such. I'd take that as an instance of #2, myself.

Even so, I'm pretty sure Apple and Amazon, at least, aren't in the LED manufacturing game themselves, although Samsung might be. Still sounds like #3.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (3, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | about 10 months ago | (#44184383)

This is _exactly_ the kind of thing the patent system was designed for!

Except that this technology has been in use for how many years? And between 1995 and last fall, BU has filed how many suits?

There is a legal principle called laches [wikipedia.org] . Which basically says: If you don't defend your rights in a timely manner, you lose them. Had BU stepped in and exercised its patent rights from the outset, manufacturers could have negotiated reasonable licensing fees. And BU would be the recipients of a tidy subsidy for their institution over the past decade. Springing stuff on Apple and others* a this point is a tactic akin to blackmail and shouldn't be allowed.

*It could be argued that the LED suppliers Apple used should have the responsibility to ensure that their processes are clear of patent infringement. If you have a laptop, stereo system or automobile with blue LEDs, should we stop by your house to pick them up? At what point do we draw the line?

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

bmacs27 (1314285) | about 10 months ago | (#44185285)

How is the patent holder supposed to know that their rights are being violated?

Re: Not a troll on the surface. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44186579)

how did they find out to file this suit?

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 months ago | (#44187135)

How is the patent holder supposed to know that their rights are being violated?

In the general case, that's a good question. In this case, all they'd have to do is read a trade rag. The chemistries used in LEDs are not secrets. (They're patented, so they can't be.)

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about 10 months ago | (#44187259)

There is a legal principle called laches [wikipedia.org] . Which basically says: If you don't defend your rights in a timely manner, you lose them.

For patents, it isn't quite that simple. If you become aware of someone infringing your patent, and you delay notifying them (or filing a lawsuit) for the purpose of letting damages accumulate, you may lose damages for the time between becoming aware and notifying. You don't lose the right to file a lawsuit, you don't lose the right to seek an injunction or future royalties, and you don't lose all past damages.

Re: Not a troll on the surface. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44184503)

Tax dollars hard at work.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

sjames (1099) | about 10 months ago | (#44184913)

As much as I hate to side with Apple in a patent matter, Apple is not using the patent at all. I know that because they do not fab basic components, they buy them. If BU wishes to sue the people who actually use their patent that's a different matter.

This is a case of suing the wrong entity. Same for Amazon. They might actually have a legitimate gripe w/ Samsung since they actually fab LEDs.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44186089)

Since it's apparently not patented (at least not to BU) in the country of manufacture, the path available is to go after the importer to the US, where it is patented to BU...

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

HJED (1304957) | about 10 months ago | (#44187021)

They may not fab them, but do they design the components that are being fabed (not sure if this is the case). If they do they are probably still liable.

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 10 months ago | (#44187351)

Please distinguish this from a hypothetical case in which BU had a patent on a new manufacturing process for car tires and such tires were being included on every car. Would Honda be free to keep importing the infringing tires because it bought the tires from Toyo? Would Audi be free to keep importing infringing tires because it bought them from Continental?

Re:Not a troll on the surface. (4, Informative)

DworkinLV (716880) | about 10 months ago | (#44185245)

Enough (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44183717)

OK guys, can we please admit the US patent system is broked and needs repair now?

This is getting out of control and I think it's because everyone has arrived at this same basic conclusion: FIX PATENTS NOW.

Re:Enough (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44183765)

How? So, a university spends tons of money and years of research refining a process which is far to sophisticated for you to understand, and you think they don't deserve some kind of exclusive rights?

These are NOT trivial and obvious patents, this is not a patent troll, and it does not demonstrate a broken patent system.

In fact, I'd argue that if the defendants were allowed to use this tech without paying royalties, THAT would demonstrate a broken patent system.

Re:Enough (1)

SJHiIlman (2957043) | about 10 months ago | (#44183895)

How? So, a university spends tons of money and years of research refining a process which is far to sophisticated for you to understand, and you think they don't deserve some kind of exclusive rights?

No, I don't.

Re:Enough (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44183931)

Oh, so in your communist magical fantasy world, people get together in large scientific groups to produce technology purely for altruistic reasons.

Good luck with that!

Re:Enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44183965)

Clue time: Apple sold 100 million iPhones before they filed a single patent suit. Obviously patents are not needed to make money.

Re:Enough (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 10 months ago | (#44184193)

Clue time, part 2: If they sued first, they would have been counter-sued, and risked having their products import-banned before selling a single one. That would be a complete fail.

Re:Enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44184521)

Great, yet another artifact of a broken system. Did you have a point?

Re:Enough (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 10 months ago | (#44184519)

You don't file the patent suit until after someone violates your patent. Even then you're not required to file suit (Apple does lots of cross licensing instead). There are plenty of examples on the other end, where the inventor of a device received little or no money from their invention even though the device was copied and sold by others.

Re:Enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44184531)

"There are plenty of examples on the other end, where the inventor of a device received little or no money from their invention even though the device was copied and sold by others."

B...b...but I thought patents were supposed to prevent that!

Re:Enough (2)

SJHiIlman (2957043) | about 10 months ago | (#44184171)

Oh, so in your communist magical fantasy world, people get together in large scientific groups to produce technology purely for altruistic reasons.

No, I just expect people to come up with viable business models on their own, without resorting to government-enforced monopolies over ideas and methods that result in censorship and infringe upon people's property (read: physical property) rights.

Re:Enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44184513)

Yeah, because if you say, 'Communist' you automatically win the argument.

As the commentator below may have clued you in, a government enforced monopoly for patent is a lot more communist than having a free market.

Re:Enough (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | about 10 months ago | (#44184613)

Oh, so in your communist magical fantasy world, people get together in large scientific groups to produce technology purely for altruistic reasons.

Yes. That world is called academia. Just saying.

Gotta call B.S. on this ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44187471)

GRANTS.

Using monies STOLEN from the taxpayers for constitutionally illigitimate purposes.

The "economy" is SUPPOSED to be a level "playing field", it is a total and complete fiction when correctly viewed [everything is lewd] as nothing more than a crony-capitalist rigged game. And I do mean the entire world economy, not just the "American" mess.

Re:Enough (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 10 months ago | (#44184091)

Why not? Despite the patent system's brokeness, you don't think short copyrights and cheap patents, neither of which we now have, would incite people to create?

Re:Enough (1)

SJHiIlman (2957043) | about 10 months ago | (#44184191)

I value freedom more than security and such. Patents/copyrights bring about censorship and a loss of control over real property, so can't accept them.

With that said, there's really no evidence that patents and copyrights help the situation; it's all speculation. Unless you have irrefutable evidence (and not just 'common sense' nonsense) that they truly do help, I don't see you convincing me that they're even useful for their stated purposes (although even if you did, I'd still be opposed to them).

Re:Enough (0)

geekoid (135745) | about 10 months ago | (#44184487)

remind me to steal anything you think of and make billions off your work.
haha, I'm kidding! you're not smart enough for a good idea.

The sad thing her is morons like you are allowed to reproduce.

Re:Enough (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about 10 months ago | (#44185073)

They may well have a legitimate gripe with the company that actually made the LEDs. Let them go after them.

The fact that going after a downstream user who may very well not employ anyone who even understands the patent even seems viable is evidence of broken patent law.

It's approaching Kafka's "The Trial" (Happy Birthday Franz). Sued for a process you don't use and don't even understand. Since you don't understand it you cannot even begin to guess if the patent is valid or if your supplier might use or even understand the process, but you're somehow supposed to defend yourself in court and "I have no idea what any of this is and have certainly never used it" just won't do.

Re:Enough (1)

jkflying (2190798) | about 10 months ago | (#44186037)

That's the risk of doing your manufacturing overseas, and sourcing overseas suppliers for components. BU doesn't have any way of bringing the patent litigation against a company with no US representation, so they get to go after the people bringing the infringing components into the country instead.

Re:Enough (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about 10 months ago | (#44187271)

I don't agree with how patents are granted/abused, but if a company is going to import goods into a country, the first thing you do is check to see if it's legal to do so. You can't just import something in a box (for selling onwards) and then complain that you didn't bother to find out what was in that box.

Re:Enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44185149)

Why is this naive bullshit modded up?

This is a troll, RTFA.

Re:Enough (1)

meerling (1487879) | about 10 months ago | (#44184619)

And the legal system. (Or whatever you want to call that mess that allows all the stupid, worthless, or frivolous lawsuits.)

Apple, Amazon, and Samsung... (1)

EzInKy (115248) | about 10 months ago | (#44183789)

...are sure to have enough brain power to work their way around this shit. Just think about how much they could achieve if only they worked together!

Entertaining comments in that blog post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44183815)

It's funny to see hipsters shitting themselves all over the internet. What, do they think the judge will measure the number of skinny jeans thrown into the pot? Hahaha! If we're weighing moral rights and wrongs, Apple choosing to evade taxes is definetely worse than an educational institution making them account for their misappropriation of other peoples' work, assuming that's what happened.

The sad thing is most of these fuckwits aren't even shareholders, and have nothing to gain by 'defending' apple. Go team fuckwit!

Re:Entertaining comments in that blog post (1)

meerling (1487879) | about 10 months ago | (#44184635)

Why do you think they'll stop with Apple?
If they win this suit, they will use it as additional ammo for targeting the next big company, and then the next, and so on until there's nothing left worth gunning for that hasn't already paid through the nose. It's the same pattern as all the rest of them use.

In an ideal world (1)

fnj (64210) | about 10 months ago | (#44183859)

"We refer you to the reply given in the case of Arkell v. Pressdram."

"We note that Mr Arkell's attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of our reply and would therefore be grateful if you would inform us what his attitude to damages would be, were he to learn that the nature of our reply is as follows: fuck off."

Boston University is crappy anyways (-1, Troll)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 10 months ago | (#44183999)

GF: I have to go study.

Mark Zuckerberg: You don't have to study.

GF: Why do you keep saying I don't have to study?

Mark Zuckerberg: Because you go to BU

it's troll worthy. (5, Interesting)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 10 months ago | (#44184453)

They filed it in 1995, it was published in 1997. Its going to expire in the next few years.

They're claiming they invented GaN LED's.

If they weren't being a troll about it, they would have been sueing 10+ years ago, not two years before it expires.

Re:it's troll worthy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44184915)

They are, and have been for some past years, been playing a long game.

Ya, patents really need "use it or lose it" (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 10 months ago | (#44185363)

I would like to see something like that parties have one year from the time they should have reasonably become aware of a product that infringes on their patents to contact the party infringing to license/desist/whatever. If they fail to, then the patent expires.

So it is fine to patent something and not make something with it. After all, there are places that do research (like universities) that don't make products. You don't need to make something yourself. However if someone starts using your work, and you should reasonably be aware of it, like it is being sold in retail stores and such, then the clock starts ticking. You have to contact them. If you don't, well then I think it is fair to assume you don't care. As such, you lose it.

None of the waiting for shit to become really popular and then jumping from the shadows. You either enforce it, or it goes away.

Also for this particular case if this is about GaN LEDs (I haven't looked at their claims) that is rather trolly of them given that Nagoya University is where that came from, back in 1989, and some of the more recent stuff from the University of Illinois.

apples response (1)

Redmancometh (2676319) | about 10 months ago | (#44185033)

"But we have a patent on patent trolling...you'll be hearing from our lawyers. Also stop selling douches on amazon...we have it trademarked"

We've been here before... (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 10 months ago | (#44185183)

"Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until we copied her, the only country on earth which ever, by a general law, gave a legal right to the exclusive use of an idea. In some other countries it is sometimes done, in a great case, and by a special and personal act, but, generally speaking, other nations have thought that these monopolies produce more embarrassment than advantage to society; and it may be observed that the nations which refuse monopolies of invention, are as fruitful as England in new and useful devices."

- Thomas Jefferson

Summary FAIL (1, Offtopic)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 10 months ago | (#44185259)

Boston University is much more than a four-year school. BU has a graduate school, a medical school, and a law school as well. Just because it isn't Harvard or MIT doesn't mean it doesn't matter.

Slight correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44185599)

First, we heard that Boston University — a private research institute that badly runs a four-year school on the side...... FTFY

They're not in the patent business (1)

scotts13 (1371443) | about 10 months ago | (#44186957)

You guys talk like Boston University is in the business of developing technologies to license, and that they keep track of what's happening in the computer industry. I'm quite sure they weren't quietly biding their time, waiting for "their" technology to become entrenched; more likely, they had no clue. I suspect they stumbled upon this patent in their files, either serendipitously or in a search for new revenue streams. Which is basically what every business or organization in the country is doing now, since it's been well proven there's big money in previously ignored patents.

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