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Apple Sued Over Fundamental iTunes Model

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the who-says-patent-reform-isn't-working dept.

Patents 257

tuxgeek writes "A suit was filed Wednesday against Apple over the possibility that the iTunes music store and iPod are 'illegally using a patented method for distributing digital media over the Internet.' ZapMedia Services filed the suit, accusing the well-known OS and computer manufacturer of violating patents obtained just recently. 'The patents in question cover a way of sending music and other digital content from servers to multiple media players, a broad description that could also apply to a wide swath of other companies selling digital media and the devices to play it. ZapMedia said it met with Apple to discuss licensing, but Apple rebuffed the offer.'"

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One can only hope... (5, Funny)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739954)

... that there's a special place in hell for patent trolls.

Re:One can only hope... (5, Funny)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739992)

its the same place reserved for child molesters and people who talk in theater.

Re:One can only hope... (3, Funny)

greebowarrior (961561) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740044)

+1, Shepherd

Re:One can only hope... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740332)

Any chance they're incarnated as children during a continual run of AFI's thousand best films?

Re:One can only hope... (3, Funny)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740598)

And people who talk on cell phones in the next stall while I'm trying to take a dump.

Re:One can only hope... (5, Funny)

uglydog (944971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740908)

how am i supposed to know it bothers u if u don't say anything?!

Re:One can only hope... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740998)

He's supposed to slide his feet under the stall and wave his hand in a provocative nature.

Re:One can only hope... (5, Insightful)

sthomas (132075) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739994)

and for Atlanta-based companies that sue Cupertino-based companies in East Texas.

Re:One can only hope... (1)

kidgenius (704962) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740164)

Just out of curiosity, how do you get to choose where you file your lawsuit? Don't you have to conduct business there, or have a headquarters there, or something along those lines? I mean, couldn't I sue my neighbor, and file it in another state in hopes that my neighbor won't want to deal with interstate trial issues and, in a way, force a default on my behalf, or maybe a settlement?

There's a lot of leeway in federal cases (5, Interesting)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740306)

It's called venue or forum shopping, looking for a place to file suit where you're more likely to get a favorable result:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forum-shopping [wikipedia.org]

East Texas is apparently well known as a venue for patent suits, as the judges there tend to find in favor of the plaintiff more than the national average.

Yay America!

Re:There's a lot of leeway in federal cases (1)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740608)

Who pays for the court, the hours by its employees, etc.?

The local county or state government and it's taxpayers?

Re:There's a lot of leeway in federal cases (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740656)

It's a federal court, so, the taxpayers of the US.

Re:There's a lot of leeway in federal cases (2, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740820)

East Texas is apparently well known as a venue for patent suits, as the judges there tend to find in favor of the plaintiff more than the national average.
Are the judges in East Texas running a scam? They must know that they are viewed as the Patent Troll Capital, and that not a positive distiction. Is there money for the court involved in this type litigation?

Re:There's a lot of leeway in federal cases (4, Funny)

zymurgyboy (532799) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740920)

Yay America!
Perhaps so. Maybe they'll draw Samuel Kent and he can draft them an order like this one [nationalreview.com] .

BTW, it's funny because it's real.

Re:One can only hope... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740892)

The mere fact that this lawsuit has been filed in the notoriously patent-friendly [nytimes.com] East Texas district (specifically, Marshall) screams "patent troll".

Re:One can only hope... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740010)

Right next to the spammers.

Re:One can only hope... (1)

Teflon_Jeff (1221290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740540)

Of course there is. First, they have to go to East Texas (not heaven on Earth by any stretch. As a friend of mine and former E. Texan said "E. Texas is a great place to be FROM")

But beyond that, let's hope there's a special tenth level of hell.

And one might wonder (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740556)

If all those patent trolls are secretly financed by the Mafia [wikipedia.org] .

Maybe it's time to counter-file that the claims they have fall under the RICO act [wikipedia.org] since it may be considered either Extortion [wikipedia.org] , Larceny [wikipedia.org] or Fraud? [wikipedia.org]

But this in turn shows that the patent system is flawed. And possibly also the legal system that even accepts cases like these in the first case.

Re:One can only hope... (1)

donstenk72 (593985) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740646)

What's this 'hell' place you are talking about?

Re:One can only hope... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740752)

Except for when they go after Microsoft.

You would have though they would notice sooner (1, Redundant)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739968)

You really would have though they would notice sooner.

iTunes has been out for yonks now and people have been raving for years about it and not one person at this patent troll office thought "hmmm, we have a patent on that".

dickhead trolls.

Re:You would have though they would notice sooner (5, Insightful)

cyclopropene (777291) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740054)

You really would have though they would notice sooner.

iTunes has been out for yonks now and people have been raving for years about it and not one person at this patent troll office thought "hmmm, we have a patent on that".
FTA:

ZapMedia applied for the patents in 1999. One was granted in March 2006, the other on Tuesday.
Not that it makes them any less of a patent troll, but it would appear that waited until at least a couple of their patents were actually granted before filing a lawsuit...

Re:You would have though they would notice sooner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740086)

I forget, what's this "prior art" stuff I keep hearing about...?

Re:You would have though they would notice sooner (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740190)

I forget, what's this "prior art" stuff I keep hearing about...?
As someone who has worked for the USPTO as a patent examiner and who has approved thousands of tech related patents over the last 12 years, I can tell you that I have no idea what the hell you are talking about.

Re:You would have though they would notice sooner (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740802)

Prior to 1999?

Re:You would have though they would notice sooner (5, Insightful)

HiChris! (999553) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740530)

FWIW: You can not enforce a patent until it is actually approved. So other people can go ahead and develop similar things, sell, and market them - and there is nothing you can do besides issuing them a stern letter from a lawyer. Now, once you get the patent it is a different story. You can sue and either get money ("forced" licensing) or get the other guys to stop. Of course the defendants will claim that the patent covers something obvious and try to get the patent overturned. Of course what is obvious now, may not have been so in 1999 or whenever Apple started selling iPods/using iTunes - so it will be fun to see what happens.

Re:You would have though they would notice sooner (3, Interesting)

digitig (1056110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740084)

One of the two patents wasn't granted until Tuesday (although the application was made in 1999). Presumably they didn't think "hmmm, we have a patent on that" because they didn't. The other patent is a bit older, but not that much. Still, reading the RA makes it so much harder to think up sarcastic comments, which is probably why it's so unpopular here.

Re:You would have though they would notice sooner (2, Interesting)

Malevolyn (776946) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740262)

Good for Apple for rebuffing. They know that this patent applies to other companies, and it's obvious ZapMedia knows nothing about the patents they hold. At least some trolls know enough to sue all the "correct" companies. Of course a technoweenie judge is going to rule in favor of ZapMedia, though, because he doesn't even know what an MP3 is, much less a digital distribution model.

When will they learn (5, Insightful)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739984)

I wonder how many more ridiculous lawsuits like this need to be brought before the government finally wakes up and realizes software patents are a bad idea.

Re:When will they learn (1)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740052)

And how do you plan to foster scientific innovation if you remove the patent system??

Re:When will they learn (1, Insightful)

mcpkaaos (449561) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740096)

I believe you answered your own question.

Re:When will they learn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740252)

How do you plan to have scientific innovation when a patent troll sitting on a submarine patent, which you never knew existed and is set up in a way to make it unlikely that searches would turn it up, can blow you figuratively out of the water once your innovation catches on since you actually decided to do something with it and not find a bridge to hide under until some other unsuspecting innovator tries to cross?

Re:When will they learn (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740348)

Who said anything about the patent system? Software patents and business method patents should be outlawed, but I don't know of too many people who want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Re:When will they learn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740508)

And how do you plan to foster scientific innovation if you remove the patent system??
The same way the rest of the world does. Software patents are primarily a US phenomenon. Not one of our better exports. If anything, the ridiculous excesses of software patents undermine the credibility of the entire patent process.

Re:When will they learn (1)

Goffee71 (628501) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740066)

Since Washington dogma is never screw with a lawyer, I think it will be quite some time

Re:When will they learn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740156)

Ridiculous lawsuits don't matter. It takes dollars from lobbyists.

As long as patent troll $ > patent reform $ we'll being seeing lawsuits like this.

Re:When will they learn (5, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740158)

When some politician's company or favorite product gets killed because of patent trolls. The best bet everyone has is that Blackberry is brought down by a patent troll with an obviously idiotic patent. It got close the last time, but wasn't quite enough. Sadly, only personal pain will convince politician's that something's worth taking up.

Re:When will they learn (1)

thejuggler (610249) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740456)

Well, Al Gore is on the BOD of Apple, Inc. Whether your a Gore fan or foe you have to admit that if he really wanted he may be able to sway certain people in certain Government agencies.

He may have a already stepped in to protect Jobs on Stock Option back dating. Other CEOs were fined and forced to resign for the same tactics and Jobs was spared.

--
I want to Patent the process of filing a Troll Patent.

Re:When will they learn (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740688)

That already happened. It was all over the news (and Slashdot). It cost RIM $600M, even when the patents were overturned during the trial -- the judge still forced RIM to settle.

Re:When will they learn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740798)

Where do I sign up to provide them some of this personal pain?

Re:When will they learn (3, Interesting)

terraformer (617565) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740848)

Ahhh... They almost did and you want to know what your knights in shining armor did? They exempted themselves from having to abide by the patent (effectively telling RIM that they could continue to service the US Govt) and basically told the rest of us we could go screw. A few weeks later RIM settled for $385 million or so. So what was that idea again?

Re:When will they learn (5, Funny)

TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740188)

I wonder how many more ridiculous lawsuits like this need to be brought before the government finally wakes up and realizes software patents are a bad idea.


It will take exactly 27 more.

Re:When will they learn (1)

zehaeva (1136559) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740784)

Can we quote you on that? ^_^

Re:When will they learn (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740226)

The moment a big gov't contractor (or the gov't itself) gets burned by a patent troll, we have a chance of change.

Re:When will they learn (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740402)

Nope. The government will just appropriate the patents, while a government contractor will ask the CIA and NSA to secretly eve-drop what the company's board and nail them talking to high-priced escort.
Or if all else fails, nail the CEO with fraud like they did to Qwest.

No, it will involve a patent troll being roundly beaten in court battles by a large IBM, and their lawyers being disbarred. Their CEO is undressed in court and forced to handover clothes as part of settlement in addition to long jail time.

I do hope they find a judge sympathetic to the victim company and do all these things to the patent troll.

Re:When will they learn (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740478)

I'm not convinced that there's any essential difference between software and business method patents and regular patents, they all say "I own this knowledge". Software is just a new enough field to make it very obvious that a particular piece of knowledge can originate from multiple sources.

Perhaps independent invention (regardless of being first) should be a valid defense against infringement suits, and maybe it should even invalidate the patent (especially if it happens multiple times).

Perhaps the obviousness requirement should be based on *current* obviousness instead of obviousness as the time of invention, so that patents are only good on things that are truly ahead of the industry, and can't hold back innovation by locking up things that are now well understood. I guess this is about the same as the independent invention idea, really...

Re:When will they learn (0)

jjeffries (17675) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740586)

That will happen as soon as government ceases to be a make-work program for lawyers...

Re:When will they learn (2, Interesting)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740706)

I wonder how many more ... before the government finally wakes up and realizes
You are operating under a false premise. The government *never* wakes up and realizes anything. It is up to the people to wake up and throw the bums out.

Re:When will they learn (1)

Decameron81 (628548) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740866)

I wonder how many more ridiculous lawsuits like this need to be brought before the government finally wakes up and realizes software patents are a bad idea.


You sir, are an optimist.

Do you think Apple has a FF2000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740004)

because I have a warm, fuzzy suspicion that Apple are gonna go completely "Code Omega" on these trolls.

I should have been a lawyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740020)

Then again, I suspect they may start hanging them soon, so maybe it is just as well.

Not even counting how these kinds of things are stifling innovation, can we really sustain this sue happy economic model???

fuck ZapMedia (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740022)

right in the pooper.

Such an innovative invention (4, Funny)

Solandri (704621) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740072)

Distributing media files over the Internet to devices in your home. Wow, I never would've thought of it!

Re:Such an innovative invention (4, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740576)

Patent 7,020,704 is unbelievably stupid. I can't believe anyone got that one.

Patent 7,313,414 is just a continuation of same.

Check out the whole filing here [justia.com] .

Re:Such an innovative invention (1)

AccUser (191555) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740588)

If only you had of thought of it, and sooner... ;-)

Re:Such an innovative invention (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740640)

It's just data, no reductionist argument required.

A system and method for distributing digital media assets to a plurality of users. A portal is provided comprising at least one server computer. The portal executes a media library database server application that manages access a master library of media 5 assets that can be accessed by users via one or more communication networks. A plurality of media player devices communicate with the portal to access media assets for use. Each media player device may comprise a processor that executes a database client application that manages media assets licensed for use by a user.

Transmission of data over a network utilizing user authentication, DRM and RDMS based accounting system. That's some serious innovation there boys. Aside from the DRM, a 12 year old could have grabbed some freely available software and scripted this collection of obvious pre-existing techniques in a weekend -- even back in the '90s.


Re:Such an innovative invention (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740730)

The late great FZ in 1983 came up with just such a system. Apparently the computers in use at the time weren't sufficiently powerful enough but hey, it's (now) a way of life...

http://soundslope.com/vocab/frank_zappa [soundslope.com]

squidbass

So... (1)

arotenbe (1203922) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740078)

TFA says:

ZapMedia applied for the patents in 1999. One was granted in March 2006, the other on Tuesday.
Remind me again why the patent office and the courts even allow people to sue over ex post facto patents?

Re:So... (2)

Holi (250190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740278)

Really, is it Zapmedia's fault that it took 7 years for the USTPO to review and award the patent. Have you heard of Patent Pending, it used to be printed on a bunch of toys I had has a kid. With patents your protection begins from the date of application but you cannot go after anyone until it is granted. Since the patent was granted on tuesday I have a hard time seeing this as a submarine patent, and it's not like these guys have a huge patent portfolio, they have two, both similar but one with more asset management features (aka DRM).

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

lottameez (816335) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740438)

So then let's assume that Zapmedia are the "good guys" in this dispute. That brings to me this question:

What good is an idea if you can't execute on it? I'm pretty sure that Apple didn't steal the idea from Zapmedia, so really....what is the consideration that Apple is supposed to pay Zapmedia for?

They (Zapmedia) had a headstart but didn't have the business/marketing wherewithal to do anything with it and now they want the US govt to do what their ineffective business could not - make big money.

I hate patents.

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

Holi (250190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740696)

Ok then look at it this way, in 2001 when iTunes was launched, tied to an extremely popular mp3 player. Now not having actually been granted a patent they could do nothing. To then sit and write a competeing product (and maybe they had worked on a prototype, I don't know) would be fruitless, as even back then we (ie. the slashdot crowd) saw that iTunes/iPod were going to dominate the market. I just don't think these guys are the usual patent troll scum we have come to know and hate.

Re:So... (3, Insightful)

Sparks23 (412116) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740864)

Slashdot saw that the iPod was going to dominate?

Wasn't the original Slashdot posting about the iPod [slashdot.org] (now legendarily) just, "No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame." with a number of followup comments about "Probably just OEM'd." and "Mediocre at best" type summaries?

In fairness, a few did say that the device shouldn't be dismissed, but I call shenanigans that people saw it was going to dominate. :)

Re:So... (1)

ragefan (267937) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740958)

Except as stated elsewhere, they filed for the patent in 1999. So they had 2 years between filing a patent and doing something to bring a product to market, even longer if you consider the fact that the Windows version of iTunes didn't come out for another 1.5 years after the Mac OS release.

Instead, they chose to wait until the patent was approved, then start suing the companies that took an obvious idea and brought it to market themselves.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740980)

even back then we (ie. the slashdot crowd) saw that iTunes/iPod were going to dominate the market

"No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame."

And Taco was far from the only person in the Slashdot crowd shitting on it that day. When exactly did this realization that it was going to dominate strike everyone after they sewed up ~75% marketshare?

May 2006? (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740080)

Re:May 2006? (1)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740298)


What are they thinking?


They were thinking: "The patent office is ran by understaffed fools, and if we're lucky, we can sucker a few hundred thousand out of Apple, Microsoft, Creative, etc before someone shuts us down."

Apple stole their vision! (5, Insightful)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740090)

From the article: "When someone takes our vision and our intellectual property without a license after several attempts, we have no option but to protect it through every means available to us," Robert Frohwein, ZapMedia's general counsel, said in a statement.

Apple took their vision? iTunes has been out since January 2001 -- and based on 1999 software released by a third-party that Apple acquired -- and NOW somebody says it was theirs? Please. The only reason ZapMedia lacks vision is because they've got their heads up their sunless parts.

Re:Apple stole their vision! (3, Informative)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740426)

I don't want to come off as supporting patent trolls, but I read the article and this is an honest question. You say that iTunes came about in 2001, but this was before the iTunes Music Store which seems to be the issue. Furthermore, does the fact that ZapMedia apparently applied for the patents as early as 1999 mean that patent protection covers since the applications date? If so (although I believe the patent(s) themselves are bogus), it seems they might have a case in our messed-up system. But I don't really know anything about patents, so whatever.

Re:Apple stole their vision! (4, Informative)

Pontiac (135778) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740466)

Yes Itunes was based on SoundJam MP released in 1999 but that was just an MP player that Apple re-tagged as Itunes 1.0 in 2001

It was not until Version 4 that the Itunes store was added allowing distribution of music in 2003.

This patent is all about distribution and was filed in 2000.

So apple might have a real issue here.. I hope not..

Information gathered from the ever reliable Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITunes [wikipedia.org]

Not the best article about the topic (5, Interesting)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740106)

Have a look at:

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/08/03/12/apple_sued_over_foundation_to_ipod_itunes_franchise.html [appleinsider.com]

ZapMedia claims in its suit that after filing for the patent, they went around to various tech companies - Apple included - and pitched the idea in great detail. This was before the launch of the iPod or iTunes.

I still think this shouldn't be a patentable thing, but the suit is less wildly without merit than the article linked in this story would suggest.

Re:Not the best article about the topic (2, Insightful)

Black-Man (198831) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740350)

Please... the diagram and description looked like somebody spent about 30 minutes in Visio. And this "patent" was drawn up during the heyday of Napster, so it wasn't like it was any sort of original idea at the time. Troll.

Re:Not the best article about the topic (1)

Cobalt Jacket (611660) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740368)

Before the launch, perhaps, but was iTunes (as it existed in 1999) conceived before or after the patent filing?

How about this: (1)

Kelz (611260) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740136)

In order to be awarded a patent, a company must demonstrate that they will actually USE the patent for something other than litigation. I looked around and I didn't see a damn thing that ZapMedia has EVER done with any such patent (which was filed in 2000?) for even such a common sense application of content distribution. Its like patenting how to use a blender! "If you press liquify and then chop, Blendable's Inc. will sue the pants off of you!"

They don't even have a WEBSITE (besides this [zapmedia.com] lovely info-less drivel) and they are awarded a patent for media distribution?!

Re:How about this: (1)

edawstwin (242027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740238)

Zapmedia did have a product in development (the ZapStation) at the time of the patent filing, which would have been used to download music and movies to itself over the internet.

Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740220)

I hope this will be thrown out for prior art. FTP itself can cover it.

Don't be so quick to judge... (5, Insightful)

CubeRootOf (849787) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740274)

"ZapMedia applied for the patents in 1999. One was granted in March 2006, the other on Tuesday."

They filed for these patents 9 years ago, and one of them was just granted ... Tuesday?!!

I know we are all against software patents... but these guys have been waiting for 9 years to be able to use this patent by the rules that everyone is supposed to play by. calling them Patent Trolls for standing by and watching while Apple used thier technology to make billions, is not quite accurate.

What would have happened if this patent was issued 9 years ago? or even just the year before the iPod came out? Would it be the ZapMediaPod that everyone was playing thier music on?

Patent laws were originally designed so that the little guys can get thier inventions out without being clobbered by the big guys. Granted they don't work that way in practice.

However - if you read the article's related to this issue, (and I don't mean the trashy yahoo article) try this one:

http://money.excite.com/jsp/nw/nwdt_ge.jsp?cat=PRRELEASE&src=102&feed=cmt&section=news&news_id=cmt-072b4826&date=20080312&alias=/alias/money/cm/nw [excite.com]

You will see that these guys worked closely with Apple, and then Apple cut them out of the loop, EXACTLY what patent law was originally designed to prevent.

Patents shouldn't apply to software... maybe. How do you protect the small time coder from the big business that takes thier ideas, makes billions, and then doesn't return a dime, without patents?

I'll accept any answer that doesn't end with
3: ????
4: PROFIT!

Re:Don't be so quick to judge... (2, Informative)

vally_manea (911530) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740526)

Ok, I'll bite... these guys worked closely with Apple, and then Apple cut them out of the loop what does this mean? Did they have a contract? If so I guess there's no problem otherwise I won't really take their word for it because as I understand http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITunes#History [wikipedia.org] Apple bought Itunes predecessor from some guys back 2000

Re:Don't be so quick to judge... (4, Insightful)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740552)

What would have happened if this patent was issued 9 years ago? or even just the year before the iPod came out? Would it be the ZapMediaPod that everyone was playing thier music on?

I think what you meant to ask was - what would have happened if these guys had actually made a store and tried to make deals with media companies for distribution? I might have a bit more sympathy for them if they'd actually done something with the idea, they might have made it big, been chosen by media companies who are desperate for an Apple alternative, or been bought out.

You will see that these guys worked closely with Apple, and then Apple cut them out of the loop, EXACTLY what patent law was originally designed to prevent.

Doesn't say that anywhere in the press release you link to, which is in fact direct from the company suing in any case, so I'd take it with a pinch of salt. If they could claim they were in negotiations or actually working with Apple, they would have. Probably they just pitched to lots of companies in the hope of taking them to court later.

Patents shouldn't apply to software... maybe. How do you protect the small time coder from the big business that takes thier ideas, makes billions, and then doesn't return a dime, without patents?

You don't. Small time coders don't need protection in a world without patents (so long as you also prevent cartels and monopolies), because it's very easy to break into a market - all you need is one computer, one programmer and the right idea to make it big, or nowadays perhaps a server if you want to do web apps. A big company is not agile enough to react to rapid changes in features etc - you could run rings round them as a small company if you have good ideas and talent because with software you don't have to manufacture, pay up front for materials etc etc. In a world with software patents this is virtually impossible as a larger competitor can crush you like a bug with some ridiculous 'One Click' patent or a patent on tabs in a user interface as soon as you begin to threaten them. Software patents work exclusively in favour of the big guys, and offer no protection to smaller companies. They were intended for physical inventions, and that's where they should have stayed - even there they're open to abuse and should require a physical prototype.

Quite apart from anything else the US Patent Office obviously can't handle the workload, so they need to restrict the number applications as a matter of practicality - that should have been done years ago because as it is they're becoming the laughing stock of the world.

Re:Don't be so quick to judge... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740946)

If Apple really did something untoward during these supposed negotiations, there would be a claim for misappropriation of trade secrets or breach of a confidentiality agreement. I haven't seen the complaint, but I'm guess no such allegations have been made.

Patent trolls love to point to meetings between their "inventor" clients and the targets of their lawsuits. Juries readily embrace the narrative that something bad must have happened. It is difficult, if not impossible, to explain to the jury why what was disclosed at the meeting was irrelevant to the accused product or already known.

Juries also have *extreme* deference to the USPTO and assume that if it has issued a patent, the patent must have been exhaustively analyzed by an expert in the field.

Re:Don't be so quick to judge... (4, Funny)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740570)

With a license from Douglas Adams,
the ZapPod BeebleBox?

Re:Don't be so quick to judge... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740578)

"In the course of its efforts, ZapMedia met with many major technology and media companies around the globe, including Apple, describing its vision in great detail." Unsubstantiated statement. Worked closely with Apple? You don't know that ... at least, not yet.

Re:Don't be so quick to judge... (1)

dthomas9 (817297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740760)

However - if you read the article's related to this issue, (and I don't mean the trashy yahoo article) try this one: http://money.excite.com/jsp/nw/nwdt_ge.jsp?cat=PRRELEASE&src=102&feed=cmt&section=news&news_id=cmt-072b4826&date=20080312&alias=/alias/money/cm/nw [excite.com]
You do realize the "article" you quote is:

SOURCE: ZapMedia Services, Inc.
Even the URL says it's a press release.

Re:Don't be so quick to judge... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740770)

Saying that they worked closely with Apple, based on that article, is an enormous exaggeration. It's also a bit silly to say that Apple used their technology without providing specific backing evidence. It appears that Apple used an idea that they had discussed with whatever incarnation of ZapMedia, but an idea does not a technology make(calling something a technology pretty much requires an implementation).

Re:Don't be so quick to judge... (4, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740788)

How do you protect the small time coder from the big business that takes thier ideas, makes billions, and then doesn't return a dime, without patents?

Protect someone whose obvious idea (send a file over the internet! ooh! aah!) is taken? You don't (why would you?). Protect someone whose product is ripped off? Copyright. Protect someone who did some consulting for Apple and spent time explaining that it might be profitable to build a vertical market of selling a player and selling music that can only be played on that player? Small claims court for the unpaid consulting bill.

There is nothing about iTunes or the music store that should be patentable. Neither one contains any technical innovation that patent law was ever intended to protect. Neither one has anything that makes any engineer exclaim, "Damn! How did they do that?"

The only "innovation" (and I use that loosely) is the product tying itself, but building vertical markets is an old idea anyway. Apple just happened to get there first with the music and only-player-that-can-play-it combo (and even that shouldn't be patentable).

but these guys have been waiting for 9 years to be able to use this patent by the rules that everyone is supposed to play by.

They waited 9 years for what? They didn't need a patent in order to sell players and music. They didn't need a patent to write an http server.

If these guys got the idea before Apple but didn't get around to implementing it, it's no loss. There has been no ill effect on the progress of the useful sciences and arts.

And on top of all that, what Apple is doing happens to be a bad (i.e. not useful) idea (from society's point of view, not Apple's). Having music that isn't interoperable with other players, is a regression in useful sciences and arts. Everybody who buys music from iTMS is worse off than they would be if the store didn't exist. Why should society grant a monopoly to incentivize the development of business models that have a negative value? (Well, ok, I can think of a reason: to limit its deployment. ;-)

Re:Don't be so quick to judge... (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740826)

They filed for these patents 9 years ago, and one of them was just granted ... Tuesday?!!

Patent trivia: patents in the US are always granted on Tuesday

No, I have no idea why that is, but check the dates. They are always Tuesday.

Re:Don't be so quick to judge... (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740952)

An online store of any kind shouldn't be patentable. It's a store. It's online. I don't care if they are selling files, music, cds or hookers; the idea of buying & selling things has been around for a very, very long time.

Re:Don't be so quick to judge... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740956)

Your news source is excite.com?

You fail because apparently you haven't updated your bookmarks in 7 years...(now it makes sense why this whole iPod thing might be a bit confusing for you)

Re:Don't be so quick to judge... (3, Informative)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740972)

I know we are all against software patents... but these guys have been waiting for 9 years to be able to use this patent by the rules that everyone is supposed to play by. calling them Patent Trolls for standing by and watching while Apple used thier technology to make billions, is not quite accurate.
The thing is, in most cases like these, the patent owner was primarily responsible for the delay as it is generally part of their strategy. They do this by continually amending the patent application, effectively delaying the date the patent is issued (and consequentially expires). This is such a common strategy that it even has a name: submarine patent [wikipedia.org] .

pure trash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740314)

there is no invention here. having the idea
of distributing media digitally is not a
patentable idea. sorry.

this patent a method thing is out of control (1)

jgarra23 (1109651) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740330)

So... by setting up an online store, allowing users download songs for a nominal fee to multiple players is a patentable method?? Seriously the patent office here in the US is really messed up. In this case, Steve Jobs would be better off "buying them out" a la Bill Gates on The Simpsons than any sort of settlement. I can't stand Mr. Jobs & I'll take his side on this even.

Wow! (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740342)

'The patents in question cover a way of sending music and other digital content from servers to multiple media players'

Hmmm. Without reading the patent ... if I replace "digital content" with "JPEG Image" and "media players" with "web browsers" ... haven't they patented the entire concept of the Web? I mean, if they're talking about a pull-model whereby multiple clients grab content, then they're talking about HTTP, no?

What about 'media players' and 'music' differentiates this from, oh, 'files' and 'NFS' for instance? "A method of allowing multiple clients to remotely access a networked resource".

Man, patents can seem so stupid.

Cheers

And you're suing them NOW?!? (1)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740488)

Okay so you had this patent for how long? And iTunes has been around for how long? And now that Apple is making lots of money on it you decide to sue? Greedy f*cker.

Re:And you're suing them NOW?!? (1)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740554)

The patent was granted on Tuesday and another one was granted in March 2006. They also asked Apple first to license it out and Apple told them no. So no they did not wait for a long time. The waited till the patents were granted. They applied for the patent in 1999.

Do They... (2, Insightful)

His Shadow (689816) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740562)

...have any products? Do they compete in consumer space? Was there an existing product that Apple stole ideas from and subsequently rendered ZapMedia's product unsaleable? Maybe people need to watch "Connections" more often, but this idea that "ideas" are like rare diamonds and only one of a kind seems to permeate patent trollery. There are thousands if not millions of intelligent people forging ahead with technology and ideas and innovation. Apple's iTunes has many imitators and many predecessors, and none of them needed Apple to steal from, nor did Apple need to steal ideas. If you have the right people on a problem the solutions are obvious, and will be replicated across several companies several times. Now, when ZapMedia can show that there is code in iTunes that was written by ZapMedia, they will have something. Otherwise, the idea that an idea or concept can be patented without ever creating a product design to sell or implement boggles me.

Bits is Bits, Encoding is Encoding (4, Insightful)

freerangegeek (451133) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740754)

When is some idiot going to realize that downloading anything as a "package" is the same action. A jpg, an mp3, or an html document, it's all JUST BITS encapsulated in a file. Streaming is downloading bits in real time without the package. Encoding is converting something into bits that can be downloaded. Can we get past the idiocy of granting a different patent for downloading a jpg than downloading an mp3? Really, networks have been doing this for nigh on 4 decades. Sure the encoding changes, the size of the object downloaded changes, and how much you can charge for said object does, but nothing "technological" has changed.

Now, coming up with an insanely cool new encoding technology? Designing a new network transport system that passes information in a new and highly efficient way? Those should be patentable. But pushing a file in that encoding over the new network, please, somebody get a clue. If not, I'm planning on patenting a system to transport iPods across country using Hybrid vehicles....

Read the article, at least, before commeting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740844)

You're all a bunch of stupid babies. You don't know how ridiculous you all sound. You're not lawyers. Why are you defending Apple? (I know why! Because Apple pays trolls to "astroturf" forums, and you all have been influenced by it).

At least try to READ the PATENTS and the ENTIRE ARTICLE before commenting

Link to patent (4, Informative)

Enrique1218 (603187) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740858)

Here is the link [uspto.gov] to the actual patent. It seems to be filed in 2000. I don't have time to analyze it, but can someone analyze it and comment on its merits.

stop violating my patent! (0)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740906)

I am the holder of patent #734-0467128475987897, method and apparatus for delivery of feces into toilets (a.k.a., taking a dump). Since everyone on the planet is violating my patent, I am going to sue everyone. First, of course, I'll warn them by sending "cease and desist" letters to everyone (meaning that you can't use the bathroom anymore but must hold it in forever). Of course, you can't patent taking a dump, but I'm going to start by suing those who can't afford a lengthy legal process, so they'll settle with me with whatever money they have, and I'll make a killing until someone invalidates my patent. By the time that happens, I'll have made a fortune and bought myself an island.
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