Feeds

back to article Apple sued for iPhone, iPad chip 'patent rip-off'

Apple has been sued by the Taiwanese fabless semiconductor-design firm VIA Technologies for – what else? – patent infringement. The patents involved, Via's complaint charges, are for technology used in microprocessors in Apple's iOS products that "generally provides efficient loading of data in the microprocessors and efficient …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

FAIL

They've brought it on themselves.

Until we straighten out the patent system, the only winners are the lawyers.

31
2
Silver badge
Devil

Yes they did, but in another way

Via nowdays is the biggest 2nd tier Android SOC manufacturer through their Wonder Media ARM SOC series. If you have a cheap noname droid device 99% that it is Via based.

They also have LOTs of processor IPR. It is cross-licensed between them Intel and AMD from the days when Via was still doing chipsets. It is not licensed to other ARM players. This will be interesting to watch. Popcorn please...

7
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Suddenly.....

Buster Cox, while in the process of giving little Sam Sung a good kicking, noticed all the other kids with baseball bats......

26
0

And as lawyers write, pass, and interpret the law, that ain't happenin'

1
0
Thumb Down

To digress slightly..

.. onto the Samsung copying suit. Just look at this:-

http://9to5mac.com/2011/09/24/oh-samsung-you-are-making-this-too-easy/

Are we really expected to believe that the Korean WonderCo couldn't think of any other way to design this charger?

It's just blatant copying and shows what poor values there are in that company.

1
4
Anonymous Coward

Re: To digress slightly..

Wow... A fanboi posts a photo of an adapter which isn't even what Samsung uses, and all the fanbois comment there like crazy as if it were a proof of Samsung's copying. Come on, how pathetic can fanbois go? The reality distortion field is probably working at full force.

Poor values has the fruity company, when they can't compete they just sue on ridiculous patents. I just hope Samsung can block the sales of their toys with the real patents held by Samsung.

4
1
Silver badge

See

Now those actually sound like sensible things to be able to patent.

5
5
Boffin

Actually they're not sensible at all - just blatantly obvious stuff that those 'skilled in the art' have been using for years. They've managed to get it through the patent system by dressing it up in long words and adding a bunch of straw-man prior art examples to fool the patent examiners. Take their following 'prior art' explanation of how integer to floating point conversion is normally done...

"Thus, before an integer unit can operate on data that is in a floating point unit, the data must first be converted into integer format, and then stored to memory. Alternatively, before a floating point unit can operate on data that is in an integer unit, the data must first be converted into floating point format, and then stored to memory. In modern microprocessors, requiring data to be converted, stored to memory, and then retrieved from memory, is very time consuming for the microprocessor, and adds significant delay in processing the data."

Maybe someone did code a floating point library like that. Once. Before being sacked for not having a f'ing clue. The bottom line is that this is no better than the crap that Apple are throwing around.

3
3
Pint

"The bottom line is that this is no better than the crap that Apple are throwing around"

Of course, but that's just the point.

9
0
Silver badge

Monkeys

***"The bottom line is that this is no better than the crap that Apple are throwing around."***

Indeed, but when one monkey starts chucking poo, you can't be too surprised when the others join in.

9
0
Bronze badge

"The bottom line is that this is no better than the crap that Apple are throwing around."

It wouldn't be right for you to punch me in the face, but if I punched you then you would probably punch me back.

Apple is currently throwing punches left right and centre, start carrying on like that in a crowded room and sooner or later somebody is going to make a preemptive strike. VIA are just getting their punch in first.

5
0
Silver badge
Devil

Re: Monkeys

Quoting from "Madagascar": If you have any poo, fling it now.

2
0

And wont it be fitting if they dont want to settle!

Given Apples stance on NOT settling and going out their way to block progress whether the infringement was wilfull or just not known at the time..... wouldn't it be fitting if Viia said... "No thanks, go redesign the internals and try again". Boy will I laugh!

0
0
Pint

But this also opens some interesting questions for competitors. If this impacts Apple vaunted A4/A5 processors and the tech is available in products from Via then Apple's competitors in the mobile phone and computing space seeking the sort of speed etc. that Apple claims come from its magical chips, are in a far better position to obtain the technology for their own products.

This is a watch this space issue...

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Samsung's A4/A5

There's absolutely nothing magical about the A4 and A5. They're designed and built by Samsung with GPUs by Imagination Technology. They couldn't be more off-the-shelf. Obviously Samsung has access to this tech, and they sell them to others too, but they're not even noticeably better than rival units like OMAP from TI or even the generic equivalents from other ARM vendors (give or take basic decisions like single core vs dual core, which GPU to use, leaving out NEON etc.).

The fact that Apple fans have created an entire mythology around this non-event is why those who are in-the-know think they are a bunch of complete twits. (Other vowels may also apply)

12
0
FAIL

[CITATION NEEDED]

"Mythology"? What the flying f*ck are you talking about?

ALL technology platforms have their devoted fanatics. What's needed is for those children to grow the f*ck up and stop boring everyone with their opinions.

What about fanboys of CPUs and GPUs—AMD vs. NVidia, anyone?

And what about consoles? Are PS3 fanatics any less tiresome than Xbox360 fans? Or Wii fans? Or...

And I'm sure the GNU / Linux / FOSS crowd are utterly innocent of evangelism and zealotry too, right?

Sheesh. Grow the f*ck up and stop being so bloody hypocritical. Your preferred platform is just as bad. The only difference is that the *media* love to show the Apple zealots' side more often, because Apple are, at least, a consumer electronics manufacturer all of their viewers are guaranteed to have actually heard of. (Microsoft is still viewed as a faceless software developer focused on selling Windows and Office to corporate America, which looks nowhere near as good on TV. Their games console is only a tiny part of their business.)

2
8
Stop

Hypocrisy?

I didn't see any in the AC's post.

I agree with you the world would be a better place and "for those children to grow the f*ck up and stop boring everyone with their opinions."

The AC was stating basically the same thing using Apple fantards as a specific example of the phenomenon. I don't think there can be any denying that Apple has a significant portion of fantards who fall into the zealot category.

The AC didn't actually state a preferred technology so I'm not sure where you get your idea of hypocrisy from, you protest a bit too much.

5
0
Happy

Anyone old enough to remember the UNIX wars?

World War UNIX: AIX vs SunOS vs ULTRIX vs HP-UX. (AIX won.)

Around the same time were also the Commodore vs Atari war. (Commodore won.)

1
0
Silver badge

But is cash the real motive?

I don't believe it is after a quick check here http://www.via.com.tw/en/company/executives.jsp

It seems VIA's Chairman is none other than Cher Wang and for those who don't recognize the name I'll cite an interesting bit of her bio, it reads, "... she is also co-founder and Chairman of leading smart phone developer, HTC Corp."

I'm guessing Apple didn't see this one coming and I wonder if Apple isn't going to start looking over their shoulder for more oblique attacks.

23
0
Silver badge

But surely

If it comes to court (in the US), and Apple offers to license the patents for a reasonable (or even a generous) amount, and pay the damages, I think that VIA would have to accept that as settlement.

True, they could get an injunction and try to keep it going for as long as possible, but the US courts are unlikely to allow any injunction to persist if what the court deems a reasonable offer to settle has been made, and there are rules about how you value what such a settlement can be.

I'm all for Apple being hoisted on their own petard, but I don't think a single case like this is likely to change their behaviour.

1
1
Bronze badge

Yeah, but Apple probably won't agree to pay the licence - particularly the arrears thereof.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: But surely

They might but I doubt that as well given the "willful" part of the suit which gives the damages that 3X prefix that Apple would certainly find quite bitter.

2
0

@Peter Gathercole

However no one can to force VIA to license to Apple.. regardless of price. Apple can walk up to VIA and say here's a check for 50billon dollars.. VIA can turn them away.

0
0
Silver badge

We seem to have gotten to the tipping point

Where even thinking of putting a chip in a device will get you sued.

Sigh, deep sigh

As the US Politicians are mostly lawyers and this patent crazyness will only benefit the lawyers there really is no incentive to stop this merrygoround especially with a US Presidential election a little over 13 months away.

9
0

or....

Apple could just buy via.

They then have more patents to sue the planet .... I mean galaxy with.

2
5
Silver badge

Hmm. Not sure they could, even if they wanted to.

It depends on where VIA shares are listed, and whether the company maintains control over a majority of their own shares.

If they are listed on NASDAQ (I've just checked, and they are on the Taiwan stock exchange), and do not have a majority share holding in themselves, then it is possible, but if a majority of the shares are not being traded, then there is no way that Apple can force the VIA board to sell themselves in a hostile takeover.

And I don't think that a US court could force the winner to sell themselves as part of a settlement (this would be completely stupid) , and if the shares are listed outside of the US, then the only pressure Apple could put on VIA is commercial and other patent lawsuits.

VIA appears to be part of the Formosa Plastics Group, so they may be difficult to challenge anyway.

Apple has been playing a very dangerous game, and I think they are about to find this out.

10
0
Silver badge

"bi-directional conversion and transfer of integer and floating point data"

Eh?

Seriously, this has been industry standard practice for as long as I've been making money with computers and networking ... say roughly 1974, and I'm pretty certain that it goes back long before that. Ever use a Motorola based motherboard with an Intel daughter board? How the fuck do you think that big-endian & little-endian systems communicated?

The US patent system is corrupt, and needs major reconfiguration.

3
0
Pirate

Heh

Yeah, well, Apple claims to have patented regular expressions.

7
0

These are proper patents

Not like Apples rectangle 'design' patent or some of the really vague 'a device for the retrieval of digital information' type patents they have started to file recently. These patents are method patents for a way of doing something, not for what they are actually doing. If Apple have a problem with licensing the method from VIA, they could always come up with their own distinctly different method of doing the same thing without infringing on the patent.

5
1
Silver badge
Trollface

"Apple ... could always come up with their own method"

Dear Sir,

You appear to have forgotten to put the troll icon on your post. Here, have one from me. Unless Apple have patented it, of course, in which case that will be £50,000 settlement fee and £5,000 for use of icon, plus you must show Apple the next six icons you plan to use on posts. You have also incurred £170,000 in legal fees payable to ourselves, remittance to be made within 28 days.

Yours,

Jedit, Jedit, Jedit and Jedit

Patent Lawyers

2
0
Bronze badge
Devil

Reap thw Whirlwind

The tech companies have been keeping fairly quiet on each others patent infringements for years, but it now looks as if they have had enough of Apple throwing law-suits around, and are rummaging through their patent lockers to see how much grief they can throw at the fanbois idol.

Even though I HATE lawyers, I hate Apple even more, so GO FOR IT BABY!!!!!

19
6
Anonymous Coward

WTF? You hate Apple more than lawyers?

..you sir, need to focus on priorities.

Apple - whether you like to admit it or not - actually produce some things that some people want (you excluded).

Lawyers on the other hand, produce *nothing* that people want, and at a wallet-gouging price that even Apple would be envious. It can't be a co-incidence that an anagram for "Patent offce" is "Fat Fee Con Pit".

Apple wear f*ing halos by comparison, and I never thought I'd have to utter something like that.

6
10

The lawyers aren't trying to prevent other people from producing the stuff that we DO want*. Apple are.

*Except in as much as they do what their clients (Apple) ask them to.

8
0
Silver badge
Pirate

When some idiot drove into me...

Lawyers got me a check for a couple of thousand pounds in compensation for my injuries. Whether this was right or wrong, or even appropriate, is besides the point, here is a prima facie example of a lawyer getting smeone something they want (in my case a new TV and sofa), so your argument falls down.

For the record, I have had to use Apple products in the dim and distant past, and that experience was frustrating and unpleasant. I have never seen an Apple product that I 'wanted'. Admittedly, lawyers are bloodsucking parasites in a large proportion of cases, but Apple have produced *nothing* that *I* want, whilst at the same time producing annoying advertising, and using bully-boy tactics against other companies who actually produce things I *do* want (the new TV mentioned above was made by Samsung, for example), so I, too, hate Apple more than lawyers.

6
0

You say (I paraphrase) "Apple are trying to prevent other people from producing the stuff that we DO want"

Well of course everybody wants a clone of an iPhone, because everyone wants an iPhone. Oh, except for those who hate Apple because its...Apple? (Correct me if you aren't in this group).

But you can really blame Apple for wanting to protect its amazing invention, that captured the world's imagination and inspired countless total ripoffs?

Did these Android phones exist on any drawing boards before the appearance of the iPhone? No. Did you want a smartphone before you saw an iPhone? No. Admit it, you love Apple's products. That's why you want a clone of one.

2
15
Silver badge
Trollface

I disagree

Some lawyers do worthwhile stuff - admittedly none of these blood sucking leeches - but some nonetheless.

And apple do have some really important and cool ideas, but the asshattery with which they then pursue their agenda more than negates any good ideas that they ever stole from xerox :-D

4
0
Silver badge
FAIL

@ Paul Bruneau

"Admit it, you love Apple's products. That's why you want a clone of one."

Oh my God. I know Apple fanbois can be shown to have logic problems, but you, sir, have really raised the bar on this one.

So basically, in your logic, everybody who has an iMac really wanted Ubuntu? Everyone who drives a Renault really wanted an Audi? Everybody who eats Rolo (do they still make those?) really wanted Ferrero Rocher?

FFS - because things have a similarity in appearance and behaviour (*generically* MacOS is like Windows is like Ubuntu's GUI is like RISC OS, likewise most of the current crop of smartphones are superficially "similar") does *NOT* mean that we settled for second best.

Put it like this, if I wanted an iPhone, I'd have f*cking bought one, it was only about eight euros a month extra on contract, I spend that a week on delusions of winning the lottery. But I didn't. Because I wanted an Android device, and I was rather taken with the DEFY's resistance factor. Show me another phone where I can video a torrential downpour while standing in said downpour and not needing to worry about shorting out the insides of the phone. Kinda cool, huh? Maybe such shenanigans are not a factor in your decisions. Fair enough, I'm probably mental. But I know what I want, and it doesn't carry a fruit logo on the back...

7
0
Silver badge

@Paul Bruneau

"But you can really blame Apple for wanting to protect its amazing invention, that captured the world's imagination and inspired countless total ripoffs?"

Do you mean the Apple i "want to be an LG Prada" Phone?

4
0

Waaaaaaaah, waaaaaaaaaah

"Did these Android phones exist on any drawing boards before the appearance of the iPhone? No. Did you want a smartphone before you saw an iPhone? No. Admit it, you love Apple's products. That's why you want a clone of one."

The only real 'surprise' with iPhone in 2007 was the fact Apple has developed an OS which had great touchscreen support. And that's it.

Their 'unique look' dogma is retarded, pretty much all the touchscreen phones around that time were already getting shaped into 'rounded rectangle' - just remember HTC WM5/6 phones. But hardware required to run WM was not small enough to make it fit into smaller/thinner case, and touchscreen support was crap, so front buttons were still a must (mostly because of WM limitations).

Apple used most advanced hardware at the time suited for their custom crafted OS (which allowed them to be 'flatter'), and good touchscreen support (which made it possible to get rid of the buttons on the front).

Just look at bloody digital photo frames (most popular example these days) from 2001 and 2006, and tell me if you see a trend.

Not to mention that you should look at some 2001 CRT TVs and compare them with LCDs later on. Then wonder why is it that LCD TVs looked so 'different' (because they could and it was a logical/natural step). Do you think that lack of buttons on LCD TVs/monitors is because everyone is copying iPhone, huh?

Then look at GPSs and many other things that progressed to their 'minimalistic' state. I also remember seeing digital watches progressing from bulky 'blocks' to thin flat screens.

Because that's natural.

And that's what pisses people off. Someone trying to take the credit for natural progress.

What's next? Icon grid being Apple invention?

4
0
FAIL

@ paul

epic fail for forgetting to include the troll icon with your post.

3
0
Stop

@AC 09:25

"Apple - whether you like to admit it or not - actually produce some things that some people want (you excluded).

Lawyers on the other hand, produce *nothing* that people want"

Apple produces nothing I want.. Lawyers jokes on the other hand are always good for a chuckle!

0
0
LPF

Two of the patens are over 20 years old since they were filed and one of them was 2002 and relies on a 1997 patent. Looks very dodgy to me.

0
11

What is even dodgier here is your arithmetic. All of the patents are less than 20 years old.

4
0
LPF

Hold on a second, this is an Arm chip, so the question is , if this functionality exists , was it added on to the design by Apple, or is its something that comes with all Arm chips?.

2
0

An interesting question. If VIA devices are in android then VIA must have an ARM licence of a reasonably recent core design - but this may be one of their "black box" designs where arm does the work and the company prints the devices.

Apple have an Architecture team (this is how we knew that they were going to use ARM in mobiles way back when) so they /may/ have designed their chips differently to the ones designed by ARM.

I doubt it though.

The more interesting question is this:

Usually when $company1 sues $ARM_licencee for infringement that happens in the ARM design (see the lawsuits following Java bytecode execution in the ARM926EJS) they take over the lawsuit and defend it for the benefit of all licensees. This prevents a medium size company from bulldozing a small one and setting a legal precedent.

This time, both companies are ARM partners so it will be interesting to see what happens.

0
0
Silver badge

That doesn't matter at all, the patent system does not require you enforce your patents at all, you can pick your targets almost at will (provided you avoid charges of anti-competitive behaviour).

So the question is not *who* introduced the infringing IP (and let's just pretend there's valid infringement) but who does the patent holder have a reason to sue.

The system is currently configured as Mutually Assured Destruction in the IT sector. It's got that way *because* there's no obligation to enforce, that's allowed accumulation of vast numbers of bad patents. Start widespread enforcement and the whole shaky edifice will collapse causing massive collateral damage to business along the way.

Apple threaten that MAD and that's a powerful incentive to focus attacks purely on Apple and contain the collateral damage by not widening enforcement.

5
0

Actually it could turn out to be very relevant who introduced the IP.

First off there's patent exhaustion - if ARM has a license from VIA then Apple has a strong claim that they're covered.

Second there's indemnification. ARM may indemnify licensees over their licensed IP.

Third there's license small print. If VIA is an ARM licensee they may find that asserting patents against the ARM core itself invalidates their license.

0
0
Silver badge

@cloudgazer

[My reply was focussed more on the 'what if everyone's infringing' interpretation, should have been more clear on that]

Yes, they may have those defences. Having defences doesn't stop you getting sued and just being sued can cause serious damage. Not being infringing doesn't even stop you being sued in the craziness of the patent system.

What ultimately stops you getting sued is not pissing off the rights holder enough to get sued, everything else just determines how painful the process is, win or lose.

Apple have pissed off a geometrically increasing number of people. If it turns out they're guilty I don't see anyone else getting sued as collateral damage ;)

1
0
Anonymous Coward

the birds come home to roost

Apple sowed the seeds and dug their own grave by going out on a rather whimsey patent fight on look and feel to block valid competitors to their products ... and now the real patents are coming out for a fight.

18
2
Silver badge
Go

Perhaps when Jobs feels the pain of patent attacks against him ...

he will become more amenable to cross-licencing at reasonable royalty rates as well as using his paid hacks in the US Congress to revisit the patent question.

Older Reg readers might remember when TaiWan was best known for knock-off software and hardware. Then their government got smart by cracking down on pirated software and financing a national technology drive.

I guess this is pay-off time with the former US-based technology leaders now paying others for their IP. How the world has changed.

8
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.