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back to article Apple sued over iPhone caller ID

When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone at Mac World back in January 2007, he told the Apple faithful that his portable status symbol was backed by 200 patents. And the Apple faithful cheered. But that hasn't prevented an onslaught of iPhone-happy lawsuits. After all, this is America. Other patent holders have already sued Steve …

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This is tiresome...

How many more patent trolls are going to come out of the wood work every time someone releases a new device that attracts a lot of publicity. Show me one (1) other mobile phone made since 1995 that doesn't feature a caller ID feature. There are even a hell of a lot of land line phones that will do that. Why doesn't this bozo go after Nokia or Samsung or even BT?

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This post has been deleted by its author

Um...

Isn't that pretty much the same as any other caller ID - every phone I've ever had has shown me the name and number of incoming calls...

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How is this...

...any different from how other phones display a persons name when they call, or am I missing somthing.

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Unless I'm wrong...

...and it's entirely possible as it's past 1am and I've been in the pub...

Shouldn't this guy be suing the manufacturers of virtually every mobile phone ever made? I've never had a mobile that didn't do this.

Why did he pick on the iPhone?

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Caller ID?

He patented Caller ID? So surely ALL mobile manufacturers are paying him for the privilege, yes?

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Jobs Horns

Why go after Apple ?

My original StarTAC could do this and that was just over a decade ago !

So why go after Apple - because Steve is evil ?

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Flame

Interesting he'd be bringing it up now

Basically every single cellphone made since 1997 has had this capability,

Patents need some basic reform. Show damages or GTFO.

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Hmmm...

I wonder how this bozo managed to patent this in 1990, after it'd been publically available for almost a decade in many markets...

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Paris Hilton

Not just clunky...

Not only did this frivolous patent holder fail to design a sleek, glossy, black-and-chrome embodiment of his "invention," but that 617 number doesn't even belong to Abraham and Son! Also, I believe Abraham actually had 2 sons.

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Jobs Horns

Yep, Apple and Stevie Gods, the Great iNOvator......

and it suspiciously has happened all too frequently in the past (hence a long history of lawsuits and examples of copied products). But of course the Apple Kool Aid Drinkers in denial will disagree with no evidence to disprove.

But Apple HAS created one thing quite unique! A 44% $85.50 LOSS in AAPL stock in less than 60 days! That'a way Stevie!

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Anonymous Coward

OK, this guy is an idiot...

If I held the patent for caller ID do you think that I would have waited until the year of our Lord, 2008, in hopes of that Apple Computer, Inc. would develop a 'cute' little hand held telephone communications device?

Not only no, but HELL no! I would have gone straight to the horses ass and went after AT&T, BT and every other telcom I could sick my fee happy lawyers on.

What a tool...

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JK
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Just another great example...

... of how badly the US patent system is broken. Obvious idea, and apart from producing the actual physical device matching the picture, there would be no reason to patent that idea. Additionally, suing another company for making a completely different product with that same *very obvious* idea is just ridiculous.

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Another stupid patent...

Wonder if every other mobile manufacturer has licensed this patent... and anything that uses caller ID on a landline. Doubt it.

They'll sue us for reading the number off the display, performing a look up against a directory (in memory) and thinking "ah, it's Joe calling me" next... only difference is the display.

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Prior art?

Isn't this also a feature on every cellphone ever made, and most landline telcos too?

Wikipedia describes Caller ID as being developed in the late 70s - surely there's plenty of prior art to invalidate this patent?

Anyone remember if the early brick/bag phones in the late 80s supported this?

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Anonymous Coward

Oh really...

...this is just getting pathetic! They're describing nothing more than phone caller ID, something which I'm sure has been around longer than this patent. As much as I hate Apple, I hope Apple counter-sue for any reason they can, just to get rid of muppets like this.

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Paris Hilton

Caller id

The problem here is that caller ID has been around ever since crossbar exchanges were invented, 19th century anyone? The originating exchange would send the calling number to the receiving exchange in a 2 out of 5 code. I used to read teh relays that stored the number! (They are number 0, 1, 2, 4, 7 and you add the two digits together for the relays operated, and if you get 11 subtract 1 giving 0. (Think about it).

In the 1980s they started sending this information down the receiving line too, so a phone equipped to receive the signal could display the number of the incoming call. Now, looking this number up in a local address book is a patentable idea? I mean, weren't people doing this anyway?

I despair of reading these articles. I have to think there is something seriously wrong when such a non idea can be patented. I mean, what else are you going to do with a phone number? other than look it up in a directory to find out to whom it belongs. Innovative> No!, Obvious? Extremely!

And the merkins want to foist similar legislation onto us? I really feel sorry for them, they live in such a f***ed up country and think it is the best. Loonies, asylum, taken over springs to mind.

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Pirate

Patent reform

I agree that patent law needs a reform. But in this case, the problem is that this shouldn't be patentable with CURRENT law. A patent has to be for a non obvious idea. Idntifying who was calling based on their number is obvious and was obviosu even in 1980. It was not technically feasible back then due to the state of technology, but it was something that probably every phone user thought at some point ("I whish I could see who's calling").

So before a patent reform, we need new patent officers. I'm not asking for Einstein to come back, but at least people to whom using a pedal to accelerate a car doesn't seem like an original idea.

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Coat

for the last forty odd years...

... my arse has done little more than produce foul, noxious, steaming piles of crap on a regular basis.

do you think i should sue microsoft for copyright infringement?

------

mines's the one with the bottle of kool-aid in the pocket!

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Al
Alert

Christ...

Talk about clutching at straws, this guy must be desperate for cash to make this much of an arse of himself.

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@ Steve Browne

Kudos for the use of "merkins".

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Patent reform

Patents, and other forms of so called "Intellectual Property" need to be scrapped altogether. With the billions of people in the world, it cannot be fair to grant monopolies on ideas to just the few.

Patents were invented long ago to encourage invention. I suspect that, in the majority of cases they have the opposite effect. Nowhere is this more clear than when you look at software patents.

Information is free, as in freedom so why do we tolerate those small minded fools who impose arbitrary restrictions to encourage greed like the above.

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Stop

@everyone say "but phone x has this"

Are you sure the companies manufacturing phone x haven't paid to use this patent?

Ok, I'll admit it's unlikely, and that it's a stupid patent... but where is the evidence that Nokia, Motorola et al. are not paying to use this "idea" (in the very loosest sense of the word!).

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@herbys

Umm, I think you are getting confused between UK patent law and US law ... the US takes the stance that you can patent anything you like and it is upto the courts to decide whether the patent is valid in that particular case ... those damned yankees they do love their lawyers.

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Black Helicopters

@Herbys at al

Nice thought.

But its not that the patent examiners were/are dumb. We (I am an ex-) have been arguing on this matter forth and back. For ages. And the majority of us were in agreement. What we have been saying was brushed off by our bosses who had essentially political mandates.

Figure who succeeded in the end.

Just as a reminder: the misery of the USPTO was not self-inflicted. They brushed off software patent applications easily, with a single stroke, until the Diamond v. Diehr decision of the US Supreme Court (political mandates, anyone? wink-wink) forced the office to write out such patents.

See, it's you guys instead. Call your MP and ask her stand on patents; and if she flounders, give her the boot next elections round.

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Paris Hilton

Just wanting publicity?

Can he sue for patent infringement? As virtually every mobile phone in recent history has had a Caller ID feature surely he would have had to sue each maker since he first recognosied this feature. Just suddenly sueing now probably won't hold up as he hadn't actively tried to protect his patent in the past.

Paris as she always likes a little extra publicity!

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Paris Hilton

Citation required

Stop calling this guy a patent troll. For all you know Nokia, etc have already licensed this patent and Apple thought they were untouchable and didn't license it.

Paris because like her you are all jumping the gun.

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Not so bad

This one isn't as bad as most of you are claiming.

First, it is not the same as caller ID. In caller ID, the central exchange provides the information on who is calling. In this patent, the information on who is calling is found in a database on the remote device. So caller ID prior art may not invalidate it.

As for the rest of you complaining that this has been on cell phones since 1997, you really need to learn how the patent system works. He filed for the patent in 1988. Whether people are using it today (or even 1997) is completely irrelevant to the topic. What is relevant is whether this was common in 1988. Frankly, from my memory, cell phones in 1988 were the size of a small suitcase and didn't have this feature, so he may actually have something.

Why doesn't he sue every other company out there? How do you know he hasn't received a license from everyone else?

The one issue is that he waited so long to file for infringement, but even that's not so bad. If he already had licenses from everyone else and Apple released a phone infringing on his patent in June 2007, filing in Feb 2008 isn't abnormal. If, OTOH, he hasn't received licenses from everyone else, then he's going to have a hard time explaining why he didn't file against Nokia in 1997.

In any event, this one is not a clear patent troll like so many of the others.

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Black Helicopters

displaying number and caller id on iphone?

iphone needs to borrow some digital displays from 90's era and some specific calculator-graphic controller with mac os x drivers in order to this idea work?.

=)

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Silver badge

@ Herbys

That's PRECISELY a major failing of US patent law.

Under Patent Law in the entire civilised world, a patentable concept must be "Non-obvious to someone versed in the field"

However, in the USA that's not the case!

Coupled with the fact that software can be patented, this means that the US patent system is the most horribly broken and innovation-stifling system in the world, and desperately needs reform.

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Now, now, kiddies

I think the key is the local directory lookup. Incoming caller ID usually shows what the caller or his telco wants you to see. On my home landline, I can see anything from the caller's name to stuff like "Wireless Caller" or "Bum****, Egypt".

This system looks the incoming number up in a local database, etc., so the display is more consistent and useful. Obvious now, but in 1990 it was probably a cool idea.

What I want to know is, 2008-1990 > 17 years. How long is this patent good for?

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Flame

Some of You are Missing the Point

Read the patent, the infringement is not based on caller id/telephone number display. It is based on the action of joining the telephone number from caller id with the data in your contacts database *stored on the phone*. Don't confuse this with the *enhanced* caller id that you get on your landlines, where the data is joined at the phone companies CO, then encoded and transmitted in the ring pulse.

Truth: At some point this was someone's *original idea*, hence patentable (there may be prior art chronologically, apple can do this research).

For those who argue that this is an obvious idea, may I suggest that your opinion might be have been partially influenced by the fact that the phones you've been using have done this for some time. If taking the number from caller id and joining it to the phone's contact data for the user to see prior to accepting the call was so obvious, why didn't you submit a patent 18 years ago?

**Additionally, don't make statements about how this patent holder is attacking Apple, and that he should also go after all of the companies that produce similar product. This isn't a valid argument unless you know that he hasn't, which is not likely the case. This is an IT based site, we should expect better logic in our statements.

Flame away.

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Paris Hilton

patent law doesn't need reforming

... its just that he can't claim the iPhone infringes his patent.

you can't patent a concept or idea, you can only patent an invention. if he designed the circuitry for caller ID, and apple used the same one, then he's got a court case.

but unless someone is using his exact design, he's wasted a lot of time and money, and i wish i was his lawyer.

it's like Intel can't patent the 'idea' of a CPU, but could (and do) patent their particular design.

considering the amount of ridiculous cases that are emerging out of the USA, i'm surprised this one made the news.

...and Paris because although she's never had an idea, i'm sure she could patent her particular way of 'doing it'.

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Stop

Expired patent

At that time, patents in the US expired after 17 years. 2008 - 1990 = 18. Oops, sorry, even if your claim was legitimate you're too late to collect. Next.

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mh.
Flame

Nice try, but

Patent 4,242,539 was filed in 1979 and covers caller ID. Got to be careful or this kind of lawsuit can end up getting your patent invalidated. I think the only way to stop this nonsense would be for judges to award nominal damages when the plaintiff is obviously pushing his luck. In the UK this is fixed at £2 and something similar in the US might stop people who are just trying to get a bit of cash.

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Boffin

BT own the patent on...

...URL's! Honest!

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Coat

great new invention!

I think I'll put in for a patent. I've come up with this idea.. you take four wheels onto a 'chassis' and you may insert a propulsion device as well as a directional and speed control... I'll call it.. an automobile!... yes. I better patent this quick!

Did you know they also patent seeds? its a sad place we live in.

-----------

Is this coat patented?

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Working demo before patent!

Until you can demonstrate a working model patents should be disallowed. People come up with the same ideas everyday. But if one of those person makes a working demonstration and then patents it then every other person who had the same idea should ose by default.

They even have companies that sit there just patenting any silly idea they can come up with on the off chance it might actually become real just so they can claim on it!

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Flame

Patenting fire

When the great land of Oz reformed it patents system, a patent lawyer patented fire as a demonstration that the new system was even more dysfunctional than the old.

The the callerid case here he talks about "circuitry that detects the origin telephone number of an incoming telephone call and compares that number with numbers in the directory for identifying the calling party." -

If apple copied his "circuitry" then they may be in trouble (is sofware "cicuitry"?).

Flame icon for the great patent on fire

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In the grand old land of Oz...

Our CID doesn't send any information about the number calling, just the number itself so to get names with the number you have to have saved the name and number into the phone and it has to look it up so pretty much all mobiles are capable of doing this.

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funny

"Not an iPhone" - :D

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Heart

Poetic Justice

Clearly this is stupid...At the same time…you file 200 frivolous patents, it is poetic justice that other dumb patents bite you in the arse.

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Paris Hilton

@Grant

Patents, even in the US, only last a certain amount of time. Caller ID has been around far longer than the valid duration of a patent. the lawsuit is pure BS, nothing more, nothing less.

The idea is that because someone added some new functionality to caller ID a less that scrupulous person can mis-apply a vague patent that shouldn't have bloody well been granted anyway.

Caller ID has been around for ages. So how is it patentable to take the number from caller ID and bang it against an existing list of known numbers to identify the caller according to the name on the known caller list? And how would this be much different from taking the concept a stage further and allowing the known callers list to have a binary object field that contains an image file that can be displayed? That's the whole concept here. All standard off the shelf components tha we've had available for decades. In fact, I think I am correct in saying that the idea of a visual caller id has been dipicted in at least several major motion pictures and a couple of science fiction TV shows. But, why ever should we let that get in the way of some a$$ who doesn't care about fair, honest or right and just sees the dollar signs....

Paris because I need something that leaves a better taste in my mouth than this does...

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@All: why the bunched panties?

So it's some pathetic patent. We should all just find our comfy chairs, grab a lager (think I'll do that right this moment, actually), and watch how the courts treat this.

The USPTO may be "broken" in that it allows such crap in the first place, but it's backed by the judicial system which sorts things out laboriously, expensively, slowly (step by step), and with an unpredictable but slowly-adjusting-to-modern-technological-advances mien. So it's not really broken after all, is it? ;)

I hope the patent holder ends up having to pay Apple's lawyering fees.

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@Dave

Dave, you're correct when discussing patents in the rest of the world, however in the US you can patent a method, e.g. a way of doing things. Though this does allow you to patent software, which in some cases is fair if you've come up with something bloody clever than ought to be able to patent it, this is more difficult in Europe (I know this through a friends experience of trying to patent clever piece of software he's written).

This is partly why the US Patent System is open to so much abuse, you don't have to prove your idea, just simply describe it, it is daft. What is in this patent is essentially a method for identifying a caller using a contact database on the phone.

However it probably is a frivolous patent as I expect you could argue that CTI type systems may have already had a similar feature in call centres, I am not going to bother to find out that's Apple's Job :P

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@Pete W =- Better Logic

This guy is trying to STEAL money from Apple. As much as i ate Apple and think the iPhone is (as usual for ALL Apple product) just hype. That guy is just a small (very small) time crook.

Patent, copyright and intelectual property laws are broken period.

You should not be able to patant just an idea. but only actual product and for the patent to be valid the product must be comercially available. As for software patent.... well it simply cannot be patented in any way.

Last... you should be able to protect (c) music and film for no more then 1 or 2 years. This is the ONLY way to encourage creatity. As the studios/Labels will no longer be permited to make infinite money on the same old Cr@p.

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USA patents

are the way they are because companies like Apple, and Microsoft not to mention Intel, Sun, and IBM want them to be, they spend good money to make it this way, because they know against them this sort of law suit is a nuisance only . The fact is they steal with impunity pay very little of their total profit when caught, and they sue the life out of any startup that has the temerity to do the same. It's broken all right but these corporations with their crocodile tears shouldn't fool anyone.

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Anonymous Coward

Ban the allowing of obvious patents...

Would stop all this patent squating.

Matching a CLI against a name in a lookup table is IMO an obvious thing to do.

Not really novel thinking.

It's about time these obvious ideas were stopped from being patented.

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Others pay for this patent

I'm not sure about it but I've read in multiple other places that Nokia and SonyEricsson are both licensing this patent (and probably so is every other major mobile phone manufacturer). If that is true then I don't see why anyone would take Apple's side.

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Paris Hilton

Non-Obvious?

I don't think so.

Apple should try to get this patent invalidated on the basis of its obviousness. Evidence that it is obvious is that just about every cell phone does this already. Others have mentioned this. I expect and hope that the courts will give this patent the treatment it deserves and invalidate it without much ado.

Paris because it would even be obvious to her.

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