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Luxpro Sues Apple for Damages and 'Power Abuse'

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the not-sure-they-would-have-made-a-hundred-million dept.

The Courts 62

Dystopian Rebel writes "The Financial Times reports that Taiwanese company Luxpro (discussed on Slashdot last year) intends to sue Apple for US$100M for 'lost revenue caused by Apple's abuse of their global power.' In 2005, Apple obtained an injunction against Luxpro's Super Shuffle/Super Tangent but the Taiwanese Supreme Court has overturned the injunction, opening the door to Luxpro's legal action. From the article: 'The [Luxpro] product had almost the same measurements and weight, came in a white plastic casing and had similar buttons on the front. Its name, Super Shuffle, also closely resembled the original.'"

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62 comments

Abuse of power? (1)

eviloverlordx (99809) | more than 7 years ago | (#17476512)

Next thing you know, the have-nots will rise up and overthrow their oppr^H^H^H^Hbenevolent paternal overseers.

Ahem (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17476520)

Awww.. poor widdle Asian company can't get away with producing knockoffs. Cry me a river.

Re:Ahem (1)

feijai (898706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17483142)

How did this get modded insightful, when you misread both the article AND the slashdot summary? The poor little asian company CAN get away with producing knockoffs.

Just don't call it innovation (4, Funny)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#17476578)

Taiwanese companies aren't allowed to copy Apple designs, only Microsoft is allowed to do that.

Gimme a break (2, Insightful)

alta (1263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17476702)

That thing is SUCH a rip off, I don't care what makes it different, looking at the pic, it's obvious that they're trying to capitalize on apple's product by copying it.

Re:Gimme a break (3, Interesting)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17476906)

Image [luxpro.com.tw]

Taken directly from their website, it apears that they are flat out stating "YES, WE RIPPED OFF APPLE COME BUY FROM US!"

Re:Gimme a break (2, Insightful)

fbjon (692006) | more than 7 years ago | (#17478034)

But they also improved the design. 3 colour options, a screen, still the same same size.

Re:Gimme a break (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17482304)

I would say one of the designs is way too close to the original Shuffle. They other two are a bit in the gray area. They offer screens and have changed the layout so they may be in the clear.

Re:Gimme a break (2, Insightful)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 7 years ago | (#17477074)

It certinaly is a knockoff, but normally knockoffs are perfectly legal. The only reason knockoffs can really get in trouble is patents, trademarks, etc. So unless the Taiwanese Gov gave Apple a patent on white plastic and play/pause/next/last buttons it probably fine legally (as thier high court said). There is nothing inherently bad or illegal at least about knockoffs.

Re:Gimme a break (1)

TiMac (621390) | more than 7 years ago | (#17482042)

Not a Taiwanese patent, but this is the patent for a "White Electronic Device" that resembles a Shuffle :)

http://www.google.com/patents?vid=USPATD530340&id= CCJ7AAAAEBAJ&jtp=1#PPA2-IA1,M1 [google.com]

Re:Gimme a break (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17483962)

the above two posts, IMO, summarise this whole issue.

does it look significantly similar to Apple's product? yes.
is that a problem? only if apple have a valid patent on it.
do apple have a patent on it? yes
is it valid? ...

that question was left hanging, I think.

1) is the patent valid in the US? I mean, it does seem kind of generic. I notice from the patent diagrams, that the most significant difference, the buttons, is not detailed at all (just two concentric circles).
2) is this valid in Taiwan (and/or other markets they are targetting)? In the patent document, it only lists Japan. Perhaps there are some agreements where they are automatically applicable elsewhere?

I for one... (0, Redundant)

sehlat (180760) | more than 7 years ago | (#17476718)

welcome our new Taiwanese overlords.

Re:I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17479982)

Don't blame me I bought the Kodos model.

Re:I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17485552)

1. Beaten-to-death Slashdot joke
2. Overused Simpsons reference
3. ???
4. +5 Funny!

Duh (2, Insightful)

Divebus (860563) | more than 7 years ago | (#17476934)

What possible mystery could there be here? I thought the Taiwanese were smarter than that. Here's a case where the Chinese don't mind delineating Taiwan as a separate entity.

Not abuse of power (4, Interesting)

necro81 (917438) | more than 7 years ago | (#17477154)

Just about anyone who looks at the two devices [mp3newswire.net] side by side [luxpro.com.tw] will acknowledge that the Luxpro product is a clear knockoff of the original. Since that is the case, Apple was justified in seeking the injunction - it was not an abuse of power.

The injunction was granted but later overturned. FTFA:
Luxpro appealed and won subsequent lawsuits in the Taiwan High Court and the Taiwan Supreme Court. Last month, the Shihlin District Court lifted the original injunction, saying that "the appearances of the two products are significantly dissimilar".

Now, I don't actually think they are all that dissimilar, but that's only tangentially related to this countersuit. Apple's original suit, seeking the injunction, was not a frivolous move by a monopolistic juggernaut - just a company defending its interests. Apple's shareholders could have sued if Apple hand't sought the injunction.

Had Luxpro's device pre-dated Apple's, or if the two devices really were dissimilar, that would be another thing.

Re:Not abuse of power (2, Interesting)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 7 years ago | (#17477304)

I'd love to read what the District Court said to come to the conclusion that "the appearances of the two products are significantly dissimilar" because to me they look near identical.

Re:Not abuse of power (1)

Valthan (977851) | more than 7 years ago | (#17477562)

What are you talking about! They are soooo dissimilar! Look at the buttons! The one on the Luxpro has little ridges on them, not just flat buttons like the iPod!

Re:Not abuse of power (1)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17477446)

poking around an playing with babelfish led me to a few articles that seemed to say that the segnificant change was the existance of the disply. Only problem is that the disply is only on the 2 higher end units.

Picture [luxpro.com.tw] - this used to be a picture of all 4 items (from their own web page) atm it seems to be dead to me, not sure if it still is.

Re:Not abuse of power (3, Informative)

belmolis (702863) | more than 7 years ago | (#17478540)

Luxpro seems to have three models. The two higher-end ones are quite different from the Apple model due to their displays. The low-end one is much more similar but is nonetheless readily distinguishible from the Apple model due to the prominent Luxpro logo. Insofar as they are not infringing any Apple patents or copyrights and there is no way a reasonable consumer could confuse the two products, Apple has no case.

Re:Not abuse of power (2, Informative)

pdboddy (620164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17478918)

Ah, so we *can* blatently rip off any one we want, just slap on our own "prominent" logo and it's all free and clear.

Re:Not abuse of power (1)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17481116)

You can do what you want unless you're violating some specific law. My understanding is that in the US at least copyright (which would automatically belong to Apple) doesn't cover situations of even extremely similar design like this one. That's what the Taiwanese court decision was, right, that the design was different enough that it wasn't covered by Apple's copyright? So unless there's a specific patent or trademark that they're using without permission then they're probably OK.

Re:Not abuse of power (1)

alienw (585907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17483044)

That's what design patents are for, and Apple certainly has a design patent on the Shuffle (and all of their other products). Hence, Luxpro would not be allowed to sell the product in any country that recognizes US design patents. I have no idea whether or not Taiwan is one of these countries.

Re:Not abuse of power (2, Informative)

dosius (230542) | more than 7 years ago | (#17484502)

They certainly don't recognize international copyrights. That's why companies like Son May Records are allowed to exist in Taiwan, where they would be illegal anywhere else.

-uso.

Re:Not abuse of power (2, Insightful)

belmolis (702863) | more than 7 years ago | (#17481782)

Yes, if you want to put it that way. Nobody has a monopoly on making small music players. Anyone who wants to is entitled to take that idea and run with it. If they want to use patented features in their hardware they need a license. Similarly, if they want to use somebody else's software they need a license from the copyright owner. If they can design the hardware without infringing any patents and write their software from scratch, they are beholden to no one. The only other thing they can't do is name their product in such a way as to induce confusion in the mind of consumers, or use non-functional design elements (so-called "trade dress") that would lead to confusion. There is no law against picking up on other people's ideas and making something similar.

And, in this case, there isn't much to say about reward for innovation. Luxpro doesn't appear to be copying anything particularly innovative from Apple. After all, there have been a series of digital audio players [wikipedia.org] since 1998. It isn't as if Apple came first or is even technically particularly innovative. Apple did not pioneer the use of laptop hard drives or flash, and arguably it didn't even pioneer important aspects of the interface, judging from the patent disputes [wikipedia.org] with which they have had to deal. Companies compete in a variety of ways, sometimes by making a better product, sometimes by making it more cheaply. There's no law or principle of business ethics that says that Luxpro isn't entitled to try to win market share by making a product much like Apple's and selling it for a lower price.

Re:Not abuse of power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17482974)

I'm pretty sure it's "non-functional design elements (so-called 'trade dress') that would lead to confusion" that are at issue here. Have you seen an image of the two products side-by-side [luxpro.com.tw]? The low-end Luxpro model appears (from even a not-so-casual glance) to have EXACTLY the same dimensions as the iPod. The corners even appear to have the same radius of curvature. Essentially it looks like they took an iPod shuffle casing, substituted slightly different plastic buttons, and printed their logo on the front. Moreover, when the Luxpro thing was first announced at a trade show and photos started floating around the web, there was no Luxpro logo on the front and the buttons looked significantly more similar to the iPod shuffle's than they currently do, such that you would have to get pretty close to the unit to see the difference. It's quite possible that was just a pre-production prototype, but IIRC it pissed off Apple enough that they tried to get Luxpro kicked off the show floor, or something to that effect, and rightly so IMHO.

I might be willing to grant that, as an engineering student and also a certifiable Apple fanboy, I'm more sensitive to this than some.

(I also thoroughly enjoy reading Language Log when I get a chance. :-) )

Re:Not abuse of power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17483158)

ARGH, I failed to notice that you were also the GGP, so yes, you've seen the image. Sorry about that. I guess I'll have to simply state my disagreement with your assertion that there are no trade dress/copyright issues with the low-end model, admitting that I'm hardly any more qualified to determine that than the average person is....

Re:Not abuse of power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17488998)

Ah, so we *can* blatently rip off any one we want, just slap on our own "prominent" logo and it's all free and clear.

Pretty much, yes. What's the problem with that? The only purpose for protecting Apple's design -- which is JUST A FUCKING WHITE CUBOID, not something amazingly innovative! -- is to ensure that people who want to be ripped off by paying over the odds for their white cuboid get a genuine overpriced Apple(r) iWhite(r) iCuboid(r), not a sensibly priced white cuboid with significantly superior capabilities. The prominent Luxpro logo achieves this admirably, leaving Apple without a leg to stand on.

Re:Not abuse of power (2, Interesting)

solafide (845228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17479890)

I find Luxpro's Super Shuffle a significant UI improvement, with those more prominent buttons; my biggest complaint with the actual Shuffle is that it's hard to tell when you've hit the buttons. Not a problem with Luxpro's.

Re:Not abuse of power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17479950)

Interesting how many Taiwanese legal experts there are here.

Next time do it right (2, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#17477732)

Create a player SMALLER than the one you want to copy, then create a "case" that makes your gizmo look "kind of like" the Apple model, but not so close you are violating any laws.

Then wait for the judgement-proof street-corner vendors and we-don't-care-about-trademark 3rd-world toymakers to smell cash and create their own "shell" that exactly mimics Apple.

Word will get around and sales of your product and the third-party shells will both skyrocket.

When the trademark police come, they will come for the toymakers, the street vendors, and your customers, leaving you high and dry. After all, you've broken no laws.

If you ask me (1, Insightful)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17477806)

If you ask me and looking at Apples history of monopoly and abuse of power, it would not be a surprise to me that the story has a real base. I mean, look at the whole PowerPC situation when Apple just used his power to cut off the power to their competitors and remain the monopoly with the Macintosh hardware. Apple is a very closed company and clearly likes to use the advantage of their little monopoly (little by numbers , but a monopoly anyway). Anyway, time (and lawyers with tons of $$$) will tell.

Re:If you ask me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17478100)

Apple just used his power to cut off the power
Um, like Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, and Steely Dan, Apple is not a person.

Re:If you ask me (1)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 7 years ago | (#17481584)

Um, like Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, and Steely Dan, Apple is not a person.
Yes. In Pink Floyd's case, there were actually two persons - Pink [wikipedia.org] and Floyd [wikipedia.org]

Re:If you ask me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17485798)

Steely Dan is not a person, it's a vibrator.

Re:If you ask me (1)

MysticOne (142751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17478358)

Well, for starters, they don't have a monopoly. Sure, only Apple makes Apple products, but what company isn't in charge of their own products? Does Dell have a monopoly on Dell machines? Does Adobe have a monopoly on Photoshop or other Adobe products? You're confusing issues here.

Apple, just like anybody else, is well within their right to prevent people from copying their trademarked or patented designs and creations. In the case of the Luxpro player, it's a blatant rip-off. Apple has never prevented, nor could they anyway, anyone from creating PowerPC-based systems. You couldn't copy the Mac itself, but you could probably piece together enough hardware to make a compatible Mac system. You could even sell it and Apple couldn't do anything to you unless you violated their patents or trademarks. Apple did decide to stop licensing the Mac platform to manufacturers who were producing Mac clones, but that's not the same as preventing people from making Mac-compatible computers whatsoever. But if Apple doesn't support your Mac-compatible machine, and it's always iffy whether or not the software would work on it, who would want to buy it? I don't think it'd be a very profitable business.

Re:If you ask me (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17479240)

Does Dell have a monopoly on Dell machines?

Nope. Proprietary PCs are as dead as Dillinger. You can go to any store in the USA and buy replacement parts or peripherals which will work on Dell PCs. But if you want Apple stuff, you have to go to the Apple store.

I had a friend who owned a computer store specializing in used equipment. They did a LOT of business in used Macs. But guess what? Three months before Apple opened up an Apple Store, they served him with a cease and desist, which tried to prevent him from selling used Apple equipment. Furthermore, the people at the Apple Store started telling people his store did bad work, sold bad equipment, etc... in other words, they were baselessly slandering his business in order to extend their monopoly to the Apple retail and repair market.

Apple has a long and glorious history of making sure anything Apple related is their own little proprietary kingdom. It started with them attacking companies legally licensed to make Apple compatible equipment, then to them flagrantly violating sales contracts with vendors, and now their evil empire has finally extended all the way to the end of the supply chain, where they are now the sole venue available to consumers. All with the smiling blessings of the same people who bash Microsoft and pule about them being a monopoly.

Apple has earned Slashdot's "Favored Monopoly Status". Anything Apple does is good, but anything MS does is evil: that's the law around here.

Re:If you ask me (1)

MysticOne (142751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17479888)

Again, unless you violate Apple's patents or trademarks, there's nothing preventing somebody from producing equipment that would work in a Mac provided they can purchase the necessary parts. Apple uses components from a variety of manufacturers, so you may have to try and negotiate an agreement with each of them, but even so, they don't have to agree to sell them to you.

I don't see what legal justification Apple could possibly have for preventing the sale of used Apple equipment. I'm not saying they didn't do it, but, I don't see how they could possibly win such a case in court. As far as people at the Apple store telling customers that his store did bad work, sold bad equipment, etc., I'd chalk that up more to the people at the store rather than Apple themselves. It happens in all kinds of businesses, both computer related and not. If he had proof of the slander, he should (or should have, since you said "owned a computer store") filed a suit against them.

Apple may be the only source for Apple hardware. I have no problem with that. I don't have a problem with Microsoft being the only source for Microsoft's software. What I have a problem with is when a company like Microsoft forces other companies to do things (or not do things) as a condition of continuing to sell their software. Since the software is used on a large majority of machines the world over, refusal puts a company in a very precarious situation. Do you happen to have examples of Apple doing a similar thing?

The closest thing to an abuse of a monopoly I can see Apple being guilty of is their ties between iPods and iTunes. However, I don't think they could really be guilty of it unless they 1) made it so iPods would not play music unless it was purchased from iTunes and 2) made record companies sign an agreement stating that any music sold on iTunes could not also be licensed for sale to any competing online music distributors.

As far as Microsoft is concerned, I don't consider them an illegal monopoly because they only produce software for Windows, and Windows only works on x86 machines. I see them as an illegal monopoly when they threaten manufacturers with revocation of their distribution licenses when they choose to include a competitor's product with default installations. I expect Apple to have a monopoly on Apple products. Just as Microsoft has a monopoly on Microsoft products.

Oh, and I don't feel that anything Apple does is good, just as not everything Microsoft does is evil. But when it comes to a company listening to their customers, my opinion is that Apple wins every single time.

Re:If you ask me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17485672)

Again, unless you violate Apple's patents or trademarks, there's nothing preventing somebody from producing equipment that would work in a Mac provided they can purchase the necessary parts. Apple uses components from a variety of manufacturers, so you may have to try and negotiate an agreement with each of them, but even so, they don't have to agree to sell them to you.

That costs too much money, time, energy. Why bother? Just make stuff for the larger, more lucrative PC market. Which is exactly what everyone did, much to Apple's monopolistic satisfaction.

I don't see what legal justification Apple could possibly have for preventing the sale of used Apple equipment. I'm not saying they didn't do it, but, I don't see how they could possibly win such a case in court. As far as people at the Apple store telling customers that his store did bad work, sold bad equipment, etc., I'd chalk that up more to the people at the store rather than Apple themselves. It happens in all kinds of businesses, both computer related and not. If he had proof of the slander, he should (or should have, since you said "owned a computer store") filed a suit against them.

They didn't have to win in court. His business wasn't making hundreds of thousands a year... getting into a protracted legal battle would have put him out of business, and Apple knew and abused that fact... as any monopoly does. Same thing with the "slander". BTW, Apple would liable, since their employees are the ones spreading the lies, and it directly benefits Apple (not the employee). Plausible deniability may be good enough for Republicans and their constituents, but it really doesn't fly too well in court.

Apple may be the only source for Apple hardware. I have no problem with that. I don't have a problem with Microsoft being the only source for Microsoft's software. What I have a problem with is when a company like Microsoft forces other companies to do things (or not do things) as a condition of continuing to sell their software. Since the software is used on a large majority of machines the world over, refusal puts a company in a very precarious situation. Do you happen to have examples of Apple doing a similar thing?

Apple is the only source for Apple hardware... software... peripherals... they have a 100% monopoly over their entire niche of the computer industry.

Microsoft is just a software company. They aren't forcing their customers to stay with their OS. Apple is, however (at least until fairly recently). But they are also forcing you to buy their hardware if you want to use their OS. Doesn't that seem a little strange? A little... monopolistic, even?

Also, while you can USE iTunes without having an iPod, can you use a non-Apple mp3 player with iTunes? I don't believe so. And if you will recall, for the first two years the iPod was out, it could only be used with a Mac. So even in that case, they were trying to force people onto their hardware and OS.

All I'm saying is that people here bag on MS like they are a monopoly, when they really aren't. They have a few highly successful software products. How is that a monopoly?

Apple, however, is totally a monopoly. They have their own little "company store" thing going, where once you get roped into their town, they try to make damn sure you can never get loose. OS X forces you to use Apple's hardware. iTunes forces you to use Apple hardware... and the iPod forces you to use iTunes. And the iTunes application forces you to use the iTunes online purchasing service, exclusively. And if you want to actually BUY any of this, you HAVE to purchase it from the Apple Store, or from Apple.com.

And even when they DO have products in other stores (like the iPods), they make sure certain products are only available through them. For example, my friend got her daughter a Nano. But, the 8gb (or was it the 4gb? Whatever was largest in winter 2005) Nano was ONLY available from Apple's website. Not 'officially', mind you... it was just "out of stock" everywhere... as in, everywhere in the US. But if you ordered it from Apple, you could get it in two weeks or so.

Re:If you ask me (1)

derubergeek (594673) | more than 7 years ago | (#17480530)

Nope. Proprietary PCs are as dead as Dillinger. You can go to any store in the USA and buy replacement parts or peripherals which will work on Dell PCs. But if you want Apple stuff, you have to go to the Apple store.

You mean aside from printers, scanners, RAM, hard drives, keyboards, mice, USB cards, monitors - I'm probably missing some stuff, but you get the picture.

Re:If you ask me (1)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 7 years ago | (#17481736)

You mean aside from printers, scanners, RAM, hard drives, keyboards, mice, USB cards, monitors
Well, yes. He is right. I have bought almost all the above parts except for monitors - and none of them was from Dell or by Dell. Get your facts right.

Re:If you ask me (1)

derubergeek (594673) | more than 7 years ago | (#17483986)

Well, yes. He is right. I have bought almost all the above parts except for monitors - and none of them was from Dell or by Dell. Get your facts right.

Obviously, my terse and sarcastic reply was misunderstood. My mistake. What I was trying to say was that all of those items can be bought at any computer store and put into a Mac. He was maintaining that ALL parts for a Mac need to be bought from Apple, which is blatantly untrue (and quite ignorant of the facts).

I completely understand your misreading of my post (in retrospect).

Re:If you ask me (1)

Proteus (1926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17542704)

You can go to any store in the USA and buy replacement parts or peripherals which will work on Dell PCs. But if you want Apple stuff, you have to go to the Apple store.

There are two claims there, let me handle them in reverse order. Yes, to buy Apple brand equipment, you must go to an Apple store or one of Apple's approved retailers. Similarly to buy Dell brand equipment, you must buy from Dell or one of their approved retailers. This arrangement is true of pretty much every manufacturer that has a brand. So the second claim is somewhat obvious, and I don't see that it's a problem.

The first claim, by which you seem to be implying that you can't go to any computer store and buy non-Apple equipment that works with Apple computers, is simply factually inaccurate.

If you have a PC-equivalent, and not a more "portable" system (i.e. not a notebook or a Mini), you can use standard PCI cards. The only question is whether either the expansion vendor (or, optionally, Apple) bothered to write drivers. This was true of the G3 and G4 series macs, and I presume it's true for the CoreDuo Macs as well.

If you have a portable system, it's just as bad as it is from other portable vendors -- IBM notebooks are no treat to upgrade, either. However, you can still use standard peripherals (e.g. USB, PCMCIA), just like with other vendors. On the Mini, you can even use standard PC3200 DDR RAM.

I'm no Apple fanboy: they always have early-release problems, and they are commonly somewhat serious (horrendous fan noise on the early MacBook Pro models, e.g.). But this idea that Apple somehow has a monopoly is just foolish.

Re:If you ask me (1)

Divebus (860563) | more than 7 years ago | (#17479100)

Um.. that's a little twisted from the whole story. Because Apple chooses to not license their boxen, that doesn't make them a "monopoly" at their level of market penetration. Once anyone makes a product the planet can't live without and starts yanking everyone around because they can [think "Microsoft"], that triggers the "monopoly" flag. Apple is getting dangerously close with the iPod/iTunes connection but nobody has shown significant, damaging abuse, like jacking the prices way up or suddenly making you re-purchase things you thought you owned.

Think of the Macintosh as more like a game console where the hardware, software, gui and experience are all one entity that isn't separable. The developer of the product can choose to license [or not license] the manufacture of said console to potential competitors. Same with iPod/iTunes so far. There's no law that requires a company to commit financial suicide.

When Apple cut off the competitors (UMax, Motorola, Power Computing etc.), the license to use the ROM and boot the MacOS was revoked. Nothing personal, it was just business. Apple's hardware sales were getting reamed in the market and it turned out to be a mistake. Apple had no plans to exit the hardware business at the time and this almost made the decision for them. Wikipedia (can I say that here?) has a good writeup about it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macintosh_clone/ [wikipedia.org]

Re:If you ask me (2, Interesting)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17485694)

I'm all for a broad interpretation of the marketplace with respect of monopoly issues, but the marketplace was deliberately narrowed in order to make the case for MS to be a monopoly and the same reasoning could be applied to Apple as well. The difference is only a matter of degree.

Re:If you ask me (1)

Divebus (860563) | more than 7 years ago | (#17486454)

Whether Microsoft is or is not a monopoly is not up for interpretation - it's the law which has a series of tests to determine if there is a monopoly condition. The only legal monopoly by a private interest is one which agrees to have Government monitored policy and price regulation. Microsoft had neither of those and in fact thumbed its nose at the law for years. Most of that has changed. Microsoft is subject to inspection, fines and corrective action, even as they respond with hostility and attempts to submerge their activities from view.

Microsoft was [is] a class called a "coercive monopoly" which triggered anti-trust action against them since only the Government may grant such a class. Microsoft's actions of buying out or creating obstacles for competitors eventually allowed them to simultaneously charge high prices and stagnate with little fear of competition.

Normally, this would be impossible in a free market except for one important factor - the customer base developed a fear of obsolescence and incompatibility while competitors developed a fear of being coopted and crushed. Microsoft consistently demonstrated a willingness and ability to do exactly that. Aside from countless exclusive and coercive business deals which ran afoul of the law, Microsoft was masterful at creating demand for their products through effective marketing strategies (like any good business should), especially playing the FUD card with tremendous efficiency. It worked both on clients and competitors. Quite remarkable and commendable. However, Microsoft also developed hubris on a grand scale which eventually got it into trouble.

The only country in the world which puts up with Microsoft is the United States. Everywhere else on the planet, Microsoft is getting hung. For the interpretation of Apple behaving as a monopoly, it's perfectly legal to have products which belong to you and you alone. Apple has a legal monopoly on their own OS, hardware and select technologies just as Coca Cola retains a monopoly on their secret formula. However, there's also Pepsi Cola, RC Cola, Aztec Cola and dozens of other cola drink makers, so there is no monopoly on Cola drinks. A monopoly absent coercion is legal. Now, if Coca Cola attempted to corner the world market on cola nuts, buy and eliminate smaller competitors, drive prices up for remaining competitors and deny access to raw materials, that would attract the attention of anti-trust examiners.

The degree to which Apple and Microsoft are monopolies are polar opposites.

Re:If you ask me (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495644)

"The only legal monopoly by a private interest is one which agrees to have Government monitored policy and price regulation."

Then I guess IBM had an illegal monopoly since their monopoly had no such government intervention.

Re:If you ask me (1)

Divebus (860563) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496224)

Then I guess IBM had an illegal monopoly since their monopoly had no such government intervention.

No intervention? There have been decades of intervention. Check out one list of IBM Antitrust Suit Records [lib.de.us] which claims a printed length of 41 linear feet - and that list ends in 1980. You might also want to read up on the most famous case with Telex v. IBM. [sdsu.edu] It's kind of interesting. The last linked article was written in 1974 before all the appeals started.

Synopsis: The Government mopped the courtroom floor with IBM for a dozen years ending in 1982 with the slowest, most expensive bureaucratic paper chase ever undertaken by the DOJ. The DOJ ultimately dropped the suit. IBM started slipping in the marketplace at the hands of Silicon Valley startups, automatically disproving a monopoly condition. They lost two-thirds of their worth over the next several years.

Although IBM posessed huge market power at one time, they were also subject to market forces and competition in spite of what the Government was unsuccessfully trying to prove against them. The DOJ had no case after that. Many say Microsoft is on the leading edge of their downward slide right now.

IBM is still the constant subject of numerous Antitrust actions triggered by competitors, the latest being Wallace vs. IBM [internetcases.com] over bundling Linux on their machines at an unbeatable price (free).

Examples of sanctioned monopolies would be utilities like power companies, the phone company, gas companies, cable television companies etc. The Government moves very slowly but is always examining accusations of monopoly in the free enterprise system, usually in response to competitors complaining.

Re:If you ask me (1)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 7 years ago | (#17493566)

Ah yes, the classic troll "Apple has a monopoly on their own products."

It's been a while since that particularly specious reasoning appeared. I thought we'd all moved on a bit.

I particularly like the bit where you call it a little monopoly and then say "little by numbers," contradicting what a monopoly actually is. Well done, good troll!

Same joke, different decade (2, Interesting)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 7 years ago | (#17478038)

Luxpro (discussed on Slashdot last year) intends to sue Apple for US$100M

My first thought is that this is just the 2007 update of the old Austin Powers joke:

Dr. Evil: I demand the sum... OF 1 MILLION DOLLARS.

--MarkusQ

code of knockoffs (2, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17478390)

It seems to me that knockoffs are not a problem, and are quite profitable, as long as they do not try to masquerade as the original. However, if a knockoff is trying to masquerade as the original, I as a consumer would like it to be a problem. I want to know that the product I am buying is made by the people I think it is, and not by some fly by night operation, and i don't want to waste a lot of time trying to figure it out. For instance, if I go and buy a montblanc pen, I don't want to be confused by the montblanch pen. Likewise if I so choose to pay for the unique design and quality of LV luggage, I don't want to be confused by some knockoff.

In this case if seems like these two player are nearly identical, which is no problem. Aiwa came out with walkman clones, which I considered better quality and a much better value. This was not an issue because there was a clear branding difference between the Sony and Aiwa product. What is a problem is the name super shuffle is confusing with the shuffle. Such confusion reducing the ability for consumers to efficiently acquire products, which is bad. Certain agents benefit at the expense of society.

Re:code of knockoffs (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#17479112)

Agreed. This is a nock off. nothing suprising nor new. It is clearly labeled as non-Apple, and has some visible differences. While I would expect Apple to have grounds to sue for any patent infringement they can detect, the visible similarities I don't feel are worthy of an injunction. As for the $100M in damages, I think someone is going to need to do some math on that one. What was the geographic market the company was looking at? What was the revenue per unit? What were iShuffle sales like during the injunction?

-Rick

Re:code of knockoffs (1)

crankyspice (63953) | more than 7 years ago | (#17483092)

Aiwa came out with walkman clones, which I considered better quality and a much better value. This was not an issue because there was a clear branding difference between the Sony and Aiwa product.

I thought Aiwa was a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony?

Aiwa only taken over by Sony in 2002 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17488034)

Aiwa were not a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony until 2002 (prior to this Sony owned some stock; I don't know how much). I assume the Walkmans the grandparent message discussed were cassette-based ones, in which case this will have been long before the takeover.

So what? (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17479062)

Who care if they look similar or not. People buy iPods because of the Apple brand name, not looks or features. There are other mp3 players with more features that cost less, and yet the iPods continue to sell better due to the "coolness factor" of it being an iPod.

Wrong-o! (1)

objekt (232270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17479568)

I buy iPods because of the superior user experience. That means having the integrated iTunes store, the click wheel UI, and the fact that since I'm a Mac user, it's a pain to even TRY and use a different mp3 player.

Shuffles? We Don't Need no Stinking Shuffles!!! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17482170)

604 WiFi [archos.com] is better!

Really? You mean running a blatantly monopolistic business practice and then stomping the guts out of your competition is bad?

Who let these socialists in here anyways?

This is almighty Capitalism were are talkin' bout here!

It's all about the ... [google.com]

LUXPRO's rip-off was more blatant than they claim! (2, Informative)

argent (18001) | more than 7 years ago | (#17483502)

When Apple went after them for the injunction, Luxpro was calling it the "Super Shuffle", not the "Super Tangent", and they were using iPod-style advertising when it was introduced at CeBIT right after Apple introduced the Shuffle. Here's their original advertising material: LUXPRO's Super Shuffle images and promotional materials [macdailynews.com].

Check out the buttons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17488210)

One other thing; note that the buttons on this early version are even closer to those of the iPod.

It's always different for Apple (1, Interesting)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17485660)

Why is it the Slashdotters hate copyright and patents .. unless Apple is the holder of the IP.

silly (1)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#17488238)

Luxpro would get a little more sympathy from me if they had avoided copying the shuffle so literally. That's not even a legal question (there's nothing innovative about the old iPod Shuffle, and Apple copied a lot from other designs), they just lack common sense. They should at least have changed the shape of the pseudo-click wheel to square or something.
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