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Apple Gives In to Absurd Patent Claims

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the weird-time-to-get-soft dept.

162

gottabeme writes Apple has settled with a small Oregon company that claimed patents on simple aspects of iTunes, such as sorting and searching tracks, copying tracks to media players, and just plain choosing a track to play." From the article: "In the 10-page suit, lawyers for Contois said that David Contois, the owner, conceived of and developed a computer interface for playing music on an internal or external computer-responsive music device, which he then exhibited at the 1995 COMDEX trade show and the 1996 NAMM music industry trade show. According to the suit, persons who were at the time employed by or later became employed by Apple were present at both trade shows and viewed Contois' software. The suit charged that Apple later 'copied' the invention and used the design ideas in the interface for iTunes."

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162 comments

The Terms are not disclosed. (4, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028154)

The submitter is jumping to conclusions. There's nothing here that indicates that they knuckled under at all. They may have just let him off without paying Apple's defense costs.

-jcr

I'm not so sure. (5, Interesting)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028289)

From linked article from TFA: "The lawsuit was filed in June 2005, and the litigants met in court for a daylong hearing a year later to define terminology and set parameters for future court proceedings. Such hearings in patent cases are considered critical, and Judge William Sessions III issued a ruling July 24 that favored some of Contois' positions over Apple's.

The parties met the next day to begin discussing a resolution, according to court records. A first session was unsuccessful. A second session, which began at noon Aug. 16 and ended at 3:30 a.m. Aug. 17, led to the settlement. Lawyers filed court papers about the agreement last week, and Sessions dismissed the case. "

Apple proceeds like any other case like this, expecting an easy win because they honestly believe (I hope) that they've done nothing wrong. But, once rulings start coming back in favor of the other guy, Apple has to look at this and say, "Hey, we're making money hand over fist with iTunes, and this could easily get ugly like Blackberry... only our user base is slightly less addicted and will be angry with us if suddenly, like with Echostar, we have to turn off parts their devices on the next update. So, let's just ask them exactly what they want, and maybe just pay them off."

First meeting: We want $1 billion dollars!

Second meeting: Ok, we'll settle for OUR attorney fees, $x00,000, and stock options from Apple to cover future profits.

SOLD!

BTW, I think that last meeting went to 3:30am because some lawyer, not thinking, brought in an iBook and everyone wasted hours talking about favorite bands, and checking them out on iTunes.

Re:I'm not so sure. (2, Insightful)

pacalis (970205) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028483)

And... Meeting three, patent holders armed with Apple legitimacy, and posibly enjoined by Apple, meet with undisclosed Japanese company, and request additional licensing fees/taxes.

Re:I'm not so sure. (1)

devjj (956776) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028689)

Apple doesn't make much on iTunes. Apple makes money on iPods, and to date I don't think it's been conclusively proven that iTunes sells iPods.

Where Apple does profit is in having control over what is becoming a very large, very important sector of the entertainment business.Current earnings on $0.99 tracks don't mean much, because Apple makes less than a dime. Holding power over one of the most powerful and lucrative markets in Western (and global) society is priceless.

Re:I'm not so sure. (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028829)

Yeah, but back in February of this year, they had sold over a billion songs through the iTunes music store. Which, even if they only get a nickel per song is $50 million dollars.

Add to that the sales of iPods, various iPod accessories, and probably just a few Mac sales...

Time for Patent Reform (2, Insightful)

eliot1785 (987810) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028754)

This is the same thing that happened with NPT and RIM/Blackberry. It's also how Amazon.com got to patent the 1-click shopping method (though it looks like they might not have that anymore). This has got to end. It's time for patent reform.

Apple didn't orriginally create iTunes (5, Informative)

abhi_beckert (785219) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028156)

Apple didn't even create iTunes, they bought it several versions ago. How many of these "breaches" were developed by the original software team?

Interface (4, Insightful)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028202)

It seems that the point of contention in this lawsuit was the iTunes interface, which Apple did develop (although probably with the original team who they also acquired in the purchase). iTunes was originally Soundjam MP developed by Connectix. iTunes used the same base code but the interface is significantly different from Soundjam in many aspects.

Correction (4, Informative)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028244)

As another poster mentioned, Casaddy and Greene was the manufacturer of Soundjam, not Connectix. Sorry for the mistake.

Re:Apple didn't orriginally create iTunes (5, Informative)

akheron01 (637033) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028209)

This is correct, Apple bought iTunes from the fantastic, yet sadly now defunct, software company Casady & Greene. Back then it was called SoundJam MP and was a commercial application, and was actually my audio player of choice. Imagine iTunes, only skinnable, and with a separate window for ripping/burning (which is a more Mac like paradigm anyways)! I really miss Casaday & Greene, I absolutely loved their software. They published my #1 favorite game of all time, Glider Pro, which is now available for OS X for free: http://homepage.mac.com/calhoun/Glider%20PRO.html [mac.com]

Re:Apple didn't orriginally create iTunes (1, Funny)

Feyr (449684) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028232)

woa i remember playing the demo of that game back when i was young and dumb. ah the memories!

Re:Apple didn't orriginally create iTunes (1)

zizdodrian (987577) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028351)

iTunes was based on SoundJam, but is vastly different today. You can find a good explanation of the creation of iTunes through the eyes of a competitor to SoundJam here:
http://panic.com/extras/audionstory/ [panic.com]

Re:Apple didn't orriginally create iTunes (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028464)

Good thing they went with SoundJam, because Audion was quite crash-prone.

Re:Apple didn't orriginally create iTunes (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028549)

SoundJam was great. I used to use it with my Rio 500 well before the iPod was introduced. I also love Glider Pro!

Defensive move (-1)

alucinor (849600) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028157)

Whenever a patent claim gets settled, then well, that same claim can't be made again by another company -- unless they take it up with the company that won the first claim.

So this is a smart defensive legal maneuver. And if it's a small company suing, it's even better, because Apple can settle for even less, and then have that company they settled with act as their shield from larger suits there on out!

Re:Defensive move (2, Insightful)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028220)

That's an interesting legal theory, to say the least. Where did you say you went to law school?

Re:Defensive move (3, Informative)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028230)

Whenever a patent claim gets settled, then well, that same claim can't be made again by another company -- unless they take it up with the company that won the first claim.

Huh? Whatever gave you that idea? Unless the question is decided in a court of law (not just settled), these kinds of claims can be brought against Apple again and again.

But, then again, who cares? It's not like Apple is so well behaved themselves.

Re:Defensive move (5, Funny)

KidSock (150684) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028314)

that same claim can't be made again by another company -- unless they take it up with the company that won the first claim

That's patently false.

Re:Defensive move (3, Insightful)

carpeweb (949895) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028361)

Yeah, I agree with the other responders who called bullshit on this.

If your claim were true, then the most obvious thing for any company to do with any new product would be to provide seed funding for a small company to sue it with a bogus patent claim, but settle it in order to remain bullet-proof against any future claims. Life is never that easy.

What? (5, Funny)

chrisxkelley (879631) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028162)

In other news, Apple is also being sued by Us Playing Cards because the iPod too closely resembles a deck of Bicycle cards.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028235)

I know, the nerve of someone suing someone else for copying a UI layout. Absurd, ABSURD I SAY!

Was the deal (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028167)

We give you some money now for an exclusive license and you agree to file against other infringers?

AKA: finding a delegate for your dirtywork, or Micro-SCO

Re:Was the deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028233)

MicroSco-ing Paying off another company to do your dirty legal work for you. See Microsoft and SCO.

Scorched earth (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028169)

I think between this and the Creative patent, Apple is purposely setting a legal precedent, so other media player makers who aren't as cash-flush will be forced out of business. They don't have the massive bankroll Apple does because they were already less successful than Apple. So in the future, it will become even more difficult to jump to the top. Scorched earth. Dangerous, but brilliant in a really evil way.

Re:Scorched earth (1)

dvdave (175509) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028383)

I'm sure this will have a ripple effect on cash-strapped media player makers. MicroSoft will certainly scrap the Zune after this.

Re:Scorched earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028440)

Yeah. Cash-strapped. Is Microsoft ("MicroSoft"? Have you been in a cave since 1981?) cash-strapped? No. Therefore I am not talking about Microsoft. Un-ass my A.O.

No legal precident (4, Insightful)

Sanity (1431) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028473)

I think between this and the Creative patent, Apple is purposely setting a legal precedent
No legal precedent is set until the court rules on the case. If Apple caves in before that happens, then there is no precedent.

Re:No legal precident (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028571)

If Apple caves in before that happens, then there is no precedent.

There is a precedent; they're purposely setting a very high price for the technology they're stealing so none of the bottom feeders get it.

It may not be a "legal precedent", but it's still a precedent by definition ("an example that's used to justify similar occurances at a later time").

If you aren't a lawyer, it's a "legal" precedent too; because it's setting the price to legally use patented technology, which has been set by Apple by means of all that icky expensive lawyery stuff (using gobs of cash to set the price for Creative and this company's technology). Hence both "legal" in nature and a "precedent".

But I know what you mean, just like you knew what gp meant. :)

Re:No legal precident (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028661)

But this is good for us if we just want solidly built audio players that can be loaded like a hard drive without converting files (unless you want to rip a CD to mp3). The manufacturers will be forced to spend their time, money, and effort on making good hardware and undercut Apple because of all the money they save on developing user interfaces. I don't want iTunes. I just want a solidly built audio player that can play mp3, ogg, flac, wav, etc. Rockbox is the answer and Apple can help make that a reality by upping the ante on the UI.

what about winamp and xmms? (3, Informative)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028171)

Didn't those predate iTunes? You could sort and select stuff and burn things to CDs. not quite as fancy, but some aspects are there.

Re:what about winamp and xmms? (3, Interesting)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028189)

Winamp was first released in 1997. Ditto xmms (or rather, the precursor of it). The patent in question dates back to 1995 (or earlier).

Re:what about winamp and xmms? (3, Informative)

WowTIP (112922) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028310)

On the other hand there were lots of music/media players for the Amiga that had at least some of this functionality in the early 90's. No burning, though, probably because cd burners were too expensive.

Go computers. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028172)

""In the 10-page suit, lawyers for Contois said that David Contois, the owner, conceived of and developed a computer interface for playing music on an internal or external computer-responsive music device, which he then exhibited at the 1995 COMDEX trade show and the 1996 NAMM music industry trade show. According to the suit, persons who were at the time employed by or later became employed by Apple were present at both trade shows and viewed Contois' software. The suit charged that Apple later 'copied' the invention and used the design ideas in the interface for iTunes.""

Isn't this a similiar situation to what happened to Go computers?

prior art on this one. (4, Insightful)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028176)

Apple Gives In to Absurd Patent Claims

You're talking about the company that licensed "1-click" from Amazon. Why are you surprised?

Re:prior art on this one. (3, Informative)

MouseR (3264) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028250)

That's the stupid reality of software patent.

But the idea of giving in is because, in the end, your lawyers may actually cost more than what the plaintiffs asks and the negative publicity this usually generates eventually gets to the ears of the high shareholders and they dont like it.

Just like the "exploding Dell laptop" thing. And more recently, the same "Bad Apples" news that keep cropping up.

It's really Sony's fault. You and I both know that. But Joe Schmoe reading Wall Street Journal might not.

Death of a thousand cuts (4, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028279)

This, in addition to another few patent claims involving Apple lately, have begun to make me a bit concerned.

In the short term, it might seem like it makes sense to "just settle" with a litigant with an absurd or overly broad patent, rather than fighting it. However, I'm not sure this is really a good idea in the long run -- it just invites more people to try the same trick over and over, damning you to a death by a thousand small wounds.

Compare the difference to IBM's staunch opposition of the SCO lawsuit. I realize that the cases are different, but philosophically they represent very different approaches. IBM seemed to realize, at the very beginning, that even if it cost more to fight SCO's claims than to settle with them, it would be a worthy expenditure, because to settle would be to roll out the Welcome mat to every other numbskull with an axe to grind. Apple seems to be only looking for the immediate cost: will it cost more to fight a particular case, or to settle it?

I think this might be because, while IBM realizes that it is a giant corporation with impossibly deep pockets, and thus a massive target, Apple has for so long been a relatively small player that it seems they haven't gotten their minds around the fact that a short term loss might be worthwhile, if it headed off similar future attacks.

I'm not a shareholder in Apple, just someone who's reasonably fond of their products. However, if I was, I'd be very concerned that in making the quick out-of-court settlement their M.O., they're painting a bulls-eye on themselves, which can only get more inviting the bigger and more profitable they get.

Re:Death of a thousand cuts (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028506)

They are quite different.
SCO lawsuit is frivolous and laughable. It does not have any basis and is pretty much a sure win for IBM. IBM's business is in no danger of distruption because of SCO's injuctions.

OTOH, these lawsuits by Creative and Contois, however, do have a good basis: valid USPTO patents. The fact that they are stupid, obvious patents that should have not been granted in the first place is beside the point. To make a good defense, Apple must get these patents invalidated, a process that takes a very long time and does not guarantee a positive outcome for Apple. In the meantime, Creative and Contois could have asked injuctions that cut into Apple's business core: iTunes Music Store and iPod. Not only would they lose their profit, the absence in the market would have opened a door for others to take over. Apple's accountants must have thought it was cheaper to settle and if Apple did a similar settlement as the one with Creative, Apple can turn these patents to their advantage without getting their hands dirty. Brilliant tactics, though it does leave a bad taste in the mouth.

iTunes came out when? (3, Insightful)

mashtb4 (902800) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028196)

I became a mac user around OS 8.5, and i remember iTunes coming out back in 2001. Why did it take Contois so long to file against Apple? Couldn't this have been brought up well before the current date? Or is there another reason behind this?

Re:iTunes came out when? (3, Insightful)

Aadain2001 (684036) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028253)

Yup, waiting until Apple had invested enough money, advertizing, and resources for them to just 'drop' iTunes or start over just to avoid a silly lawsuite or 12. It's become pretty common these days.

Re:iTunes came out when? (3, Funny)

EndlessNameless (673105) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028278)

Maybe he didn't realize Apple had violated his patent. Patents have to be non-obvious, after all, so perhaps the violation of said patent did not become obvious until a few years after iTunes became wildly popular.

That must be it.

Re:iTunes came out when? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028286)

I became a mac user around OS 8.5, and i remember iTunes coming out back in 2001. Why did it take Contois so long to file against Apple? Couldn't this have been brought up well before the current date? Or is there another reason behind this?

Simple sleazy math. If iTunes flopped they would have gotten zip. They waited until it looked like iTunes had reached a kind of peak so they could claim maximum damages. If they had sued them back in 2001 they might have gotten pocket change or worse yet forced Apple to make enough changes to have voided the suit entirely. Doing it the way they did should have voided the lawsuit since they were obviously waiting for damages to accrue. A judge should have thrown it out because they should have persued it sooner. Even if they were technically legal waiting if the intent was to defraud and not let Apple make changes to comply the judge can throw it out. It was sleazy at best and highly questionable. These type of cases are burying our legal system.

Re:iTunes came out when? (1)

JasonBee (622390) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028469)

Not sure why...did'ja also know iTunes was someone else's product?

Why didn't they Sue Casady & Greene - makers of Soundjam MP?

http://ask.softonic.com/ie/9170/SoundJam_MP_Free [softonic.com]
http://guides.macrumors.com/Image:ITunes1_vs_Sound JamMP.jpg [macrumors.com]

I purchased the full version right about when Apple bought it, bastardized the interface and gave it away free. Oh the horrors. It very quickly became a slick tool and I was happy with the results.

Nonethless...didn't WinAmp, and pretty much every MP3 and media player end up with the same basic style and layout?

(Big, slow moving target) + (well tuned harpoon) = beached whale meat (a fat settlement).

JB

Wait a sec (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028197)

I'm from Oregon! Where does it say this company's from Oregon? Did I miss something?

Re:Wait a sec (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028228)

Vermont and Oregon do have similar cultures.

It must be true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028200)

1995 COMDEX was the last real show where computers were more important than electronics, software tables were more prevalent than masseuse tables, and 0.09GHz machines could decode video in realtime without(!) add-in cards.

Hi. I've invented third normal form. Pay me. (3, Insightful)

tlambert (566799) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028221)

"Those areas included ... sorting music tracks by their genre, artist and album attributes."

Hi. I've invented third normal form. Pay me.

Always remember, I'm the only one allowed to index and sort database records by individual field contents, without a royalty.

-- Terry

Well I never (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028224)

a heavily pro-Apple biased writeup on slashdot.

who would have fucking thought.

chrissake, if I wanted this shit I'd be visited www.sycophanticapplefanboy.com. Getting a bit fed up of it now.

No, I dont want to pay about twice as much for an equivalent spec PC or MP3 player. No, I dont think an OS that looks like an explosion in a sweetshop is the second coming of christ. Stop it for fucks sake.

Re:Well I never (4, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028454)

. . .if I wanted this shit I'd be visited www.sycophanticapplefanboy.com.

You lying bastard. You got me all excited for a minute, but it turns out you just made the place up.

die.die.die

KFG

Re:Well I never (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028572)

I just tried going to www.sycophanticapplefanboy.com and I noticed that it wasn't found.

Do you think their server has been Slashdotted?

Re:Well I never (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028674)

troll-tastic

Re:Well I never (1)

Yahweh Doesn't Exist (906833) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028777)

what is it with you freaks?

you have some sort of a problem with Apple so not only do you NOT block the stories, you actually read them and then post about them.

it's the same on digg.

Why are apple fanboys a bunch of asshats? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028234)

Why do you morons think that apple is better than any other company? what a bunch of fools. go back to smoking dicks.

actually you have a point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028373)

Apple was a major player in the (to date) failed effort to establish software patents in Europe. Seems to me that their recent spat of losing patent violation cases is their just rewards for being idiots.

Re:Why are apple fanboys a bunch of asshats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028752)

Mod parent up: Insightful. Apples are for fags.

jeebus (3, Insightful)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028236)

people claim "prior art" each and every time some other company than Apple goes to court - and here is an actaul case of prior art, and suddenly there is a whole bunch of folks running forward to defend apple?

Seriously - Prior art - its documented.

Re:jeebus (1, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028306)

True ... but the issue is less that it is "prior art" (I mean, I've been a programmer for over twenty five years and I'm absolutely sure that I could find something equally stupid somewhere in that morass of code to sue Apple over) but that it is bloody damned obvious. That's really the problem with software patents, in that they aren't protecting novel ideas but existing "prior art" (often developed by someone other than the patent-holder) and the blame for that lies squarely at the feet of the Patent Office (well, Congress, really.) Frankly, if they are no longer competent to judge patent applications effectively, perhaps they shouldn't be allowed to issue them anymore.

I really shouldn't feed the trolls... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028321)

Of the visible comments at my thresholds, I see absolutely no one defending Apple. The closest I see are people explaining why this might have been a smart move for Apple.

Or do you mean this small company is showing prior art for these retarded patents? Problem there is, it was in common use in WinAMP and XMMS before then -- but no one was evil enough to patent the idea. Thus, Apple even bothering to acknowledge these guys is somewhat evil -- but the guys who have these "patents" are even more evil.

Maybe you should try not trolling yourself? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028463)

Or do you mean this small company is showing prior art for these retarded patents? Problem there is, it was in common use in WinAMP and XMMS before then -- but no one was evil enough to patent the idea.

Their patent isn't any more retarded than people who don't know how to use basic math to determine which came first. Since you obviously don't know, go RESEARCH WTF you are talking about, starting with when WinAMP and XMMS even came into existence, then research the date of the patent, then come back here and say the following:
I will stop asumming all the "common knowledge" spread by slashtards is correct.

Thus, Apple even bothering to acknowledge these guys is somewhat evil -- but the guys who have these "patents" are even more evil.

Is it more evil than suing someone for copying "look and feel"?

NOTE - I'm not defending patents like this, I personally think they're ridiculous, but if you're talk about a subject like a bigshot expert throwing around words like "retarded", don't be a retard yourself. Make sure you know WTF you are talking about. Too many slashtards are pulling this shit. This site has gone way the f*** down hill.

At the very least, I shouldn't respond to ACs... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028818)

Their patent isn't any more retarded than people who don't know how to use basic math to determine which came first. Since you obviously don't know, go RESEARCH WTF you are talking about, starting with when WinAMP and XMMS even came into existence,

Ok, let's talk about selecting an item from a playlist. This particular feature has been around for much longer than CDs, even. This page [wikipedia.org] mentions vinyl LPs in the 1930's, and LPs do come with a track listing and the ability to skip to a chosen song by picking up and moving the needle -- kind of like how we do it today by moving a mouse.

NOTE - I'm not defending patents like this, I personally think they're ridiculous, but if you're talk about a subject like a bigshot expert throwing around words like "retarded", don't be a retard yourself. Make sure you know WTF you are talking about. Too many slashtards are pulling this shit. This site has gone way the f*** down hill.

What a lovely rant, from someone claiming everyone else is going downhill. But this particular debate about who's retarded and who's a "slashtard" should end now, it's making us both look bad.

Tell me one thing, though: Am I wrong? Is this particular patent at all valid? Would it be reasonable to entertain the idea that it might be valid for long enough to actually do the research?

It's one thing to tell me you disagree with my (admittedly lazy) research techniques, but it's quite another to actually say you disagree with me, and you haven't said that yet. It looks like you actually agree with me, but you're just that desperate to find something to hate about Slashdot.

Is it more evil than suing someone for copying "look and feel"?

I'll change my language, if that makes you feel better: Apple even bothering to acklowledge these guys is somewhat evil, but the act of patent-trolling is even more evil. Other evil things that Apple or others have done is completely irrelevant to this discussion.

You know very well what I meant.

Prior art (1, Interesting)

RKBA (622932) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028471)

Prior art: According to Knuth (Vol3, "Sorting and Searching"): "One of the first large-scale software systems to demonstrate the versatility of sorting was the Larc Scientific Compiler developed by Computer Sciences Corporation in 1960."

More prior art: In 1960 Quicksort was developed. Working for the British computer company Elliott Brothers, C. A. R. Hoare developed Quicksort, an algorithm that would go on to become the most used sorting method in the world.
http://www.computerhistory.org/timeline/?year=1960 [computerhistory.org]

It's called "justice" (3, Funny)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028242)

Apple is accused of copying someone's "look and feel"? Hmmm. Where have I heard that argument before? Oh, the thick, thick irony.

Re:It's called "justice" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028541)

Spaces?

kill software patents (4, Insightful)

gsn (989808) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028248)

No the submitter is not jumping to conclusions - look at the bloody claims


Those areas included iTunes' menu selection process to allow the user to select music to be played, the ability of the software to transfer music tracks to a portable music player, and search capabilities such as sorting music tracks by their genre, artist and album attributes.


A menu selection process to allow the user to select music to be played - its a music player! File>Open is a damned menu! Please for a second picture a music player that doesn't allow the user to select the music to be played via a menu. mpg123 is all that comes to mind.

The ability of the software to transfer music tracks to a portable music player - wait any OS can do this - its copying files for crissakes. Again trivially File>Save As ... heck your browser could then be a piece of software that can transfer tracks to a portable music player. Throw in the right plugin and it can open music files and save them to a portable music player.

This sorting by genre>artist>title is something I've done for ages with tapes and then CDs. The Creative patent was stupid and this one is too - Indeed I'm stunned they don't sue each other.

All of these patents are obvious and entirely frivolous, and really ought not to exist. So much as I dislike Apple and support underdogs I've got to side with Cupertino because this is ridiculous.

Re:kill software patents (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028400)

Please for a second picture a music player that doesn't allow the user to select the music to be played via a menu.

Actually, that pretty much describes the iPod Shuffle!

Re:kill software patents (1)

crucini (98210) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028759)

No the submitter is not jumping to conclusions - look at the bloody claims...

I agree. Until you read the claims, you know nothing about a patent. But the material you cite is not claims. It looks like something written by a journalist.

enemy of my enemy is my friend ? (0)

mAIsE (548) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028251)

I imagine this might help slow competitors to market as well, proxy war fair .

Summary misleading (0, Redundant)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028264)

The submitter assumes Apple caved, when actually we don't know the terms of the settlement and neither side is talking. Apple recently counter-sued for defense costs, maybe they dropped that in exchange for him dropping his lawsuit. After all, Apple didn't develop iTunes, they bought it. So the claims that Apple employees saw it at a trade show and ripped it off are completely false. Just wait and see, does dude go home and buy a new car and a boat? Or does he go back to his music store and keep working 9 to 5?

Yet another proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028265)

on that the patent laws should be revised.

Vote for the Pirate Party if you got one in your country.

Are you Ass hole ? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028291)

I am from country formerly known as IRAQ. Today I have no country. You want I should make PIRATE PARTY? Are you ass hole??

absurd??? (4, Insightful)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028273)

Given Apple's litigious history [wikipedia.org], I don't think there's any reason to consider these claims absurd. Apple went as far as trying to claim rights to pretty much all graphical user interfaces without even having invented them.

Re:absurd??? (2, Insightful)

DaveCBio (659840) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028381)

Agreed. Somehow Mac fans and, well just about anyone anti-Microsoft, think that somehow Apple is not a large company with the same lawyers, shareholder obligations and occasional predatorial business practices that most large corporations have. They may try and project sandals, Hacky Sack, anti-conformist hipsterism, but in the end they have the same goals as any other corporation and that's to make as much money as possible and to build value into their shares.

Xerox, Apple and Progress (Re:absurd???) (1)

mah! (121197) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028450)

compulsory Xerox, Apple and Progress [folklore.org] quote follows:
Steve did see Smalltalk when he visited PARC. He saw the Smalltalk integrated programming environment, with the mouse selecting text, pop-up menus, windows, and so on. The Lisa group at Apple built a system based on their own ideas combined with what they could remember from the Smalltalk demo, and the Mac folks built yet another system. There is a significant difference between using the Mac and Smalltalk.
maybe even more useful A visual history of the development of the Lisa/Macintosh user interface [folklore.org]

Re:Xerox, Apple and Progress (Re:absurd???) (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028628)

Smalltalk was just an application not the foundation of Xerox's GUI. The fundamentals of the user interface were developed on the Alto which was released (internally) in 1973. I think Jobs saw Smalltalk running on the Star which was introduced in 1981.

The Alto, Star, Lisa and Mac all had their differences, but the difference between the Apple II interface and the Star interface was much, much greater than the difference between the Star and the Mac.

That doesn't mean that Apple didn't make their own contributions, but clearly Xerox was the key player in the invention of the GUI. Apple's most significant accomplishment was making a GUI-based computer affordable. Well, at least more affordable.

A resounding WTF. (2, Insightful)

hikaricloud (983170) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028319)

Amazing. People will sue for all kinds of crap these days, eh?

Call me stupid, but this sounds like a rerun. The same thing happened with automobiles...George Selden tried to sue Henry Ford because Selden held the patent to the first automobile, even though it was built after Ford's. Messed up American patent system. The supreme court ruled that Ford and anyone else with the crazy hair across their ass to do so could build a car without paying Selden royalties. Because, and I quote from wikipedia.org, "automobile technology had improved so significantly since the design of Selden's patent, that no one was building according to his early designs."

There's a saying: "Couldn't you see the elephant in the living room?" Meaning it's kinda...obvious. I cite this, because the basics for iTunes are pretty simple to think up by yourself, without having to steal it. It's not that hard to think up an idea that you would want to organize, move around, and play your music all in one program. It's a basic concept. Sure, this company may have came out with it first, but look at how iTunes has evolved with it, and added on so much more functionality, like the music store, and interfacing with an external device to create playlists.

So I guess you could say that Apple is painting the elephant in the living room a different color. And adding some piercings.

How can this be? (4, Interesting)

Newer Guy (520108) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028325)

AM and FM radio stations have been using these kind of "computer devices" for DECADES! They are known as program automation systems and they date back to the PDP-8 days in the 1970's! How can this patent even be considered? This kind of stuff was prior art DECADES ago! I think either Gates Radio (Harris) or International Good Music (IGM) had patents on the original automation systems, but they've long since expired. Can someone else re-patent something based upon an expired patent? It sure sounds like this happened here!

Author did a nice job.... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028327)

"Apple has settled with a small Oregon company that claimed patents on simple"

Funny the article says Apple Computer has settled a lawsuit filed by a Vermont-based business owner.

Wonder how many submitters actually read the article first, instead of just trying to copy/paste.

The company is from Vermont, not Oregon. (2, Informative)

cory_p82 (751921) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028331)

Vermont... Oregon... they're like the same state anyhow. Only 3,200 miles apart, after all.

It's only the title of the article, after all.

Re:The company is from Vermont, not Oregon. (1)

tfoss (203340) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028574)

I wondered about that....I used to go to Contois Music in Burlington back in the day (that'd be the early 90's). Nice guys, but this whole things seems a bit iffy.

-Ted

this may actually be a brilliant move. (5, Interesting)

bombastinator (812664) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028343)

Apple may be crazy like a fox here.

Once upon a time Two shirt makers named Smith and Wesson built themselves a gun empire.

They did it by finding a guy who had a patent on revolvers that had cylinders bored all the way through. The gun the patents were listed for was horrible, and the patent was questionable at best. There was ample examples of prior art for one thing. They realized however that if they honored the patent and bought a license it made the quality of the patent vastly stronger.

The deal they made was that they would pay a fairly generous license fee for exclusive rights, but the patent holder would pay for all the patent challenges. The patent holder spent all the royalties on lawsuits and retired a pauper, but Smith and Wesson had a monopoly on revolvers for 20 years.

By honoring this patent and arranging for exclusive rights they may be able to keep others from even building other music players. Assuming patent law hs not changed, this could actually shoot the Zoon right through the head.

Prior art (2, Interesting)

azav (469988) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028388)

Well, well.

It appears that most anyone who created multimedia with Director and audio from Sound edit in the early 1990's has prior art for many of those "inventions"

I know I have priors from late 1995 (even demoed by Phill Shiller at that time) but that may not be early enough.

Re:Prior art (2, Informative)

blincoln (592401) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028532)

It appears that most anyone who created multimedia with Director and audio from Sound edit in the early 1990's has prior art for many of those "inventions"

I was thinking the same thing. I don't have the old Director files anymore, at least that I can find, but I did stash some screenshots away. I was 16 or 17 at the time, so the design is amateur, but functional:

InterlocK(tm) VF-2S(tm) Shockwave Streaming Audio [thelostworlds.net] (the copyright for the song being played [angelfire.com] says 1996, but I would have had the player up and running in 1995).

Futureshock [thelostworlds.net], the unfinished successor with a GUI for configuration and playlist editing (the original read a text file in the program folder to get its playlist).

The best part was that at the time, I was absolutely convinced that I had made a valuable commercial product, despite it being more or less exactly what Director/Shockwave was intended to allow you to do. I even managed to sell two licenses. I guess what I *should* have done was patent it, then wait a decade and sue Apple.

Re:Prior art (4, Insightful)

dthree (458263) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028582)

Soon after CDROM drives came out for mac, there were XCMD's that could you could use in director to play audio files from a CD, so it could have been easily done.

However, many 3rd party CDROM drives (like one I bought in 1993) came with their own audio CD player software that:

1. allow the user to select music to be played
2. search capabilities such as sorting music tracks by their genre, artist and album attributes.
3. the ability of the software to transfer music tracks to the local hard drive

Well, 2 out of 3 - Close enough!

Absurd???? (0, Flamebait)

pkcs11 (529230) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028426)

If the company named in the suit were Microsoft, I would wager your left labia you'd have given lots of weight to the suit and even gone so far as to claimed MS was an evil thieving corporation....

silly and supportive of silly. (2, Funny)

3seas (184403) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028476)

giving in to these silly claims only gives support for more silly claims to be made.

Quick someone patent "silly".

It can be done, even though its an action not a thing.

Oh, Yes, Absurd Patent Claims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028514)

That's how they got a patent.

Sore loser are you?

Soundjam (2, Interesting)

Swift2001 (874553) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028522)

I guess I don't follow the geek consensus about Soundjam. I found the interface, with all those windows, a huge pain the ass. Also, "skinnability" struck me as pretty much a total bore. When Apple brought out iTunes -- BEFORE the iPod -- I used it to load up the Rio 32 MB player I had, and it was pretty keen. But it was the interface that just killed me: everything clean, clear and obvious.

When I got the first iPod, ordered the day of the unveiling, and used it with iTunes, I knew they had a hit.

But then, I know, most geeks love Eudora, too. I get lost in all those windows popping up.

damn slashniggers again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16028551)

fucking failures.

Absurd like the Trash Can Icon patent? (3, Interesting)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028590)

Apple has plenty of questionable patents of its own. Here's a handful out of about 1000 that have been granted:

7,100,113: Systems and methods for using media upon insertion into a data processing system
7,099,869: Method and apparatus for managing file extensions in a digital processing system
7,086,008: Multiple personas for mobile devices
7,034,814: Methods and apparatuses using control indicators for data processing systems

Isn't it obvious (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028627)

why companies do this? The stand to make far more money off thier own absurd patents since they're bound to have more of them (they've got lawyers who work all day to come up with them).

utility patent, probably less absurd to lawyers (1)

igrokme (254668) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028729)

I'm not an expert but TFA uses the phrase "design patent" but the patent in question [uspto.gov] appears to be a utility patent. While I find many, if not all, software patents distasteful and often harmful, AFAIK it's perfectly legit to patent improvements or combinations to existing, even patented, ideas. This patent seems to describe coordinating a spreadsheet's capability with external music devices. (The patent specifically includes several parallel claims substituting player pianos for "music device".) One famous example is the intermittent windshield wiper patent, which described the combination of a timer and the windshield wiper (which itself, I suppose, was a combination of a motor and a squeegee). Drug companies are allowed to patent improvements for their rival's patented drugs but are often kept in check by the old patent's remaining claims, e.g. needing to use the rival's patented manufacturing processes. I'm not saying I agree with this patent, but the way US Patents work this one may not have been trivially absurd.

Oops and Editing (1)

gottabeme (590848) | more than 7 years ago | (#16028760)

I really don't know how I managed to turn Vermont into Oregon; sorry about that. At least I can laugh about it; I honestly didn't think Slashdot would even post it. Someone wondered if I had read the article instead of copying and pasting. Well, if I had copied and pasted, I probably wouldn't have made that 3,000 mile mistake. :) I must have gotten interrupted somehow while I was typing my blurb.

Speaking of blurbs, Slashdot unfortunately cut part of what I said, which made a point along the lines of, "This is one time where you wish the big guy had squashed the little guy, because the little guy is the one with the absurd patent claim. But Apple has a few of those absurd patents it likes to enforce too, doesn't it?" If Apple squashed these silly patents, that might lend credence to those who'd like to do the same to Apple's silly patents.

What a fine mess.
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