back to article Apple wins skirmish in HTC-Google patent war

The US International Trade Commission has handed Apple a victory in its patent dispute with Android-phonemaker HTC, banning the Taiwanese company's infringing phones from importation into the US. The full impact of the victory's implications, however, remains to be seen. "Notice is hereby given that the U.S. International Trade …

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USA PROTECTIONISM

WHAT do you expect?

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Unhappy

Prior art...

My trusty 6310i could pick phone numbers out of SMS messages and give the option to call that number in circa 2002.

The only winners here, as usual, are the bottom feeders^W^W lawyers.

When will this software patent nonsense stop?

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WTF?

EU protectionism?

After all, Apple's first victory against Android devices on its bogus patents came from German courts in rulings against Samsung.

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Anonymous Coward

Apple's case in Germany is about copyrights, not patents. The charge is that Samsung had copied their entire design package including product, wrapping and marketing/presentation.

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FAIL

@LarsG

No, this is about a flawed patent system being used bye companies to distort competition.

The tougher the competition the more we will have of this rubbish and we are always the losers.

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According to a post further down...

...Apple actually filed the patent in *1996*, just as the Internet ITSELF was turning mainstream. Meaning it likely predates any phone on the market that would have the capability (since GRPS and its successors didn't take off until later) and may even eclipse any existent example of prior art anyone could dredge up. Like it or not, Apple may well have beaten everyone to the punch in this case.

OTOH, the fact the patent was filed 15 years ago also points to a shortened amount of time left for Apple to take advantage of it. As this is a US Design patent filed after 1995 (meaning the patent has a flat 20-year term), Apple has a little under five years to go.

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An interesting approach to prior art

"My trusty 6310i could pick phone numbers out of SMS messages and give the option to call that number in circa 2002."

The patent has an earliest date of 1 February 1996 and because of complications of US patent law may well have an effective date of 1995.

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YOU MISS THE POINT

EU protectionism does not count as the phones are not made but only sold there.

So this decision was probably made as a result of fear that the US might start up a trade war such as taxing EU goods even more than they do now.

However, US firms filing in the US have a distinct advantage, just like the disadvantage British boxers enjoy having to fight US boxers in the USA.

They cheat to win

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Anonymous Coward

Pre 1990, maybe even 1971

Is this not the same concept as a hypelink in HTML, which to my knowledge was drawn up prior to 1990? This is a concept where the browser interprets some text in the text and provides the user with the means to perform some action on the hyperlink. Possibly the same can be said of the MAN utility in unix, which was first written in 1971 or thereabout. I am not sure if it had the linking ability then - but it probably was in there prior to 1995.

Whatever - perhaps this is a completely new idea dreamed up by apple - but like so many of these concepts it is certainly not worthy of a patent in my eyes. Its like patenting thinking.

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Anonymous Coward

NEWS FLASH......

2011 Apple file patent for the wheel.

US patents administration upholds patent award to Apple.

All vehicles must comply by April 2012 and replace wheels with squares.

2013 Apple files patent for squares.

US patents administration upholds patent award to Apple.

All vehicles must comply by April 2014 and replace squares with ovals.

2015 Apple files patent for ovals................

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@AC 13:07

Please, let Apple do this!

Then watch the oil industry walk up, pat the little kid on the head and advise them to go home to mommy.

Not that the US, the Patent office or anyone else would be allowed to let this happen. The Oil industry has far deeper pockets and much greater influence than some small time, corner electronics sales company (relatively speaking, of cause).

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FAIL

Nokia 6310

I was going to say exactly the same about the 6310 I have upstairs in a drawer. Maybe the brainless/biased ITC would like me to send it to them.

Recorded Delivery, of course...

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Coat

6310

Not just the 6310, but blackberries have been doing this since day one. Same with Palm devices.

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Facepalm

Apple invented the Regular Expression

And if you believe that, here comes Santa!

(posted from my OUTLAWED Droid Incredible)

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Joke

Don't be silly; they didn't invent the regular expression...

They just patented using it to FIND things :)

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And who says bribing the U.S. International Trade Commission does not work?

Apple gets a quick ruling on an insignificant bogus patent that never should have been issued in no time, whereas the Chinese drive the entire US Solar Cell market out of existence through the use of illegal government subsidies, with the U.S. International Trade Commission figuring they "might get around to looking into that" around 2025.

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You sound like a sore loser. If it was HTC winning against Android I'm sure you wouldn't be complaining.

All these cases prove is that everyone has a valid patent or two that apply to mobile computing and UI design, which is to be expected.

There are cases of blatant copying in the IT world but also plenty of cases of coincidence. When developing software do people ever research what patents maybe out there? it is doubtful unless they are making software very similar to an existing successful product.

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WTF?

WTF!?

If a stupid patent like this is passed to thugs like apple, what chance have small developers have to expand on their tech? They are just p-ssd that they are losing market share so go on a witch hunt instead of improving their own useless product.

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Anonymous Coward

Bubble.

The US patent quango is a protectionist bubble that is inflating out of all control. The more of these ridiculous decisions that happen, the bigger the bubble gets, and the sooner it will burst.

Looking forward to the revolution when the rest of the world simply tells the USA to go f itself and it's delusional patent system of enforcing control.

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Anonymous Coward

The patent regime is killing US tech industry and innovation. New companies in Asia are already ignoring the American market and sell their product exclusively in markets where they can safely ignore the patent racket. The US will have to change their system soon to save their industry, unless congress is willing to use the military to enforce their patent regime world-wide.

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@ac 09:43

Killing US tech industry and innovation? How so? I don't see the tech industry in China coming out with innovative products at all, do you?

They either make products for other countries (those who do have patents) or just copy them.

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@A/C 10:31

That's not anything to do with patents, though. It's because they can't wear t-shirts to work...

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RE: @ac 09:43

"Killing US tech industry and innovation? How so? I don't see the tech industry in China coming out with innovative products at all, do you?"

Yes, I do actually.

Take ZTE for example, they displaced Apple last quarter making ZTE the 4th best selling smartphone manufacturer there is, pushing Apple into a rather pitiful 5th place. This was achieved with the likes of the ZTE Blade which was released only around a year after the iPhone 3GS yet cost £90 instead of the £400 tag the 3GS was selling for by then, and was far more powerful. If producing a far superior product, for less than a quarter the price isn't innovation, I'm not sure what is.

Then there's the likes of Huwaei, whom the US has become very dependent on, and hence very paranoid over for telecomms equipment.

But perhaps you're stuck too far inside you own little nationalistic shell to recognise any of this.

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@Cheddarfingers

I don't see any innovation in what you just wrote. You yourself confirm that the only "innovation" is lower price.

Low price is easy if you don't have to do any R&D and just copy what someone else is doing.

Nationalistic shell my half-Asian arse.

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@ AC

I suggest you visit South Korea to see some REAL tech innovation.

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@AC 13:04

I think you need to read the other poster's comment again:

ZTE produce a more powerful product for a lower price. That means they had to either develop their own product or *improve* on someone else's. Either way that requires investment in R&D, and if they copied, they would also have to reverse engineer the product first at additional cost. Oh, and they would have to hide their copying so Apple, or whoever they copied off, wouldn't see it and drag them into court for the infringement, meaning even more work at more cost.

So, chances are they didn't copy: They developed their own, at a lower cost, which is not that difficult considering where they're based.

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Cobblers

"I don't see the tech industry in China coming out with innovative products at all, do you"

I don't see Crapple doing it either. They have been following everyone else since they first got into phones. Late with 3G, cameras, video recording and just ablout everything else.

Before the fanbois bleat about SIRI, it's essentially piping ASR output into a search then punting the search results back into a TTS and it's Nuance that provided the technology, again something else Crapple claim to invent that's been around forever.

Presumably they think they invented the touchscreen. You know, the ones they BUY FROM SAMSUNG...

etc, etc

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Anonymous Coward

I'll have to go dig out my wrecked lg voyager, but i'm pretty sure of three things:

1. It did that when I got it.

2. There was never an update to the phone from box to death, that could have added that function.

3. Mine came close to the iphone, so that gap see 2.

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sigh

Seriously?

They have a patent on highlighted text? How long until crApple go after world+dog for browsers highlighting text you search for in a webpage? Not to mention I love how this is patentable. USPTO for the lose here. Should be interesting to see how HTC and Google deal with this. Personally I wish that when I search for someone's number in my contact list the most likely option changes to webdings so i can easily identify it....

Stealing a page from scarshapedstar

(Sent from my OUTLAWED HTC EVO 3d)

Belief due to the fact they are now looking for me for dialing 666 to call my mom, choosing the highlighted name to confirm x-mass plans....

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edit

HELIS bloody autocorrect should die.

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It's not a patent on merely highlighting text or reg expressions, it is scanning documents automatically and then applying a shortcut that allows you to click on the address or phone number.

Using highlighting and regular expressions may be how it is implemented, but patents detail the process at a higher level. It's a patent on the process or concept, not the exact solution.

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@Giles Jones

Exactly. Which is why either Google or HTC will find another way to do the exact same thing and be clear of the patent issues in no time. It's all about the process, not the outcome.

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Does that mean...

...That smart-linking (i.e. making a text that clearly represents a web address or a phone number into a clickable link) infringes on Apple's patents? And here I was, thinking this behavior was natural, and indeed present in my Programmers Notepad, written around 1998... Software patents are indeed magical.

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That, and numerous others:

"As examples of the "structures" in question, the patent offers phone numbers, e-mail addresses, post-office addresses, zip codes, and dates. The user's "action" could be, for example, tapping on a detected and highlighted phone number in an email or contact list to make a phone call to that number."

Skype on a tablet PC would be infringing in that case, as it installs an extension into the browser (or at least Firefox) that allows exactly this.

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Anonymous Coward

The patent was filed in 1996

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FAIL

Wikipedia: The use of regular expressions in structured information standards for document and database modeling started in the 1960s and expanded in the 1980s when industry standards like ISO SGML (precursored by ANSI "GCA 101-1983") consolidated.

Oh you mean you might actually want to use the regex for something?

Apart from the skype telephone toolbar, how many email clients, word processors, spreadsheets etc find, highlight and linkify email addresses and anything starting "http://"?

And what's the betting that MS are not sued? Let's face it, they aren't a threat to Apple's phone ambitions. ;)

It's just Apple trying to disrupt business again. Oddly they seem to have succeeded this time.

FAIL for HTC's lawyers for not getting this one thrown out.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm pretty sure civ 1 had this feature in the civiliopedia... and microsoft encarta 95

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Megaphone

I am a little puzzled.

"Apple will likely assert that the patched versions still violate claims 1 and 8 of US Patent No. 5,946,647,"

Aren't you rather assuming that HTC and Google are incapable of coming up with a fix that avoids Apple's patent? Or are you assuming that whatever the fix is Apple will sue whether or not the fix in reality still breaches their patent? The ITC *has* rejected the rest of Cupertino's claims from its original suit, dated March 2010 (a total of nine alleged breaches not upheld by the commission) and it seems to me that as long as the fix is competent there is a reasonable likelihood that HTC will win through. If they do it will be a lot harder for Apple to sue the other OEMs over the same patents.

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it depends on the detection part, the action can be got around by putting a icon to tap next to the number, I can't see much use for an address book without being able to dial the number on any phone.

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Your address book is safe. The bogus patent is for automagically creating hyperlinks in unstructured data. Your addrese book is structured data and no detection needed, the fields are explicit.

I doubt the linkify process actually covered will be easy or possible to work round but thats ususally a good sign the patent is invalid. If HTC now convince the ITC of that enforcement is likely to be stayed pending a patent reexamination. Expect this to go from Apple losing 9 claims to losing all the patents.

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it may well be trivially easy to disable

There's a good chance just locking the 'linkify' UI support to off will disable it in most or all of the OS and most 3rd party apps as well. Any 3rd party app that still has it will then have to be targeted by Apple directly - not HTCs problem.

Odds are they've already toggled that in test builds and will spend the next 3 months checking its effective. Meanwhile a torrent of prior art looks about to fall on the ITC and there's not much chance the ban will survive long enough to actually start!

In 3 months time I believe this will look like a very bad day for Apple and not much better for their accomplices at the ITC.

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apple's real edge

Aside from the legalities, we all know that Steve vowed to spend every last dollar of the $40B in the bank when he died, to fight off pretenders copying the iPhone. Is there any question that the iPhone is his invention set, that it is demonstrably better, that the public has paid for it as such, and that he had every right to protect his inventions? Does his death change Apple's right to continue such protections?

Do you commentors doubt that there are not tens or hundreds of other patents that could yet be asserted?

Do you not value the protection of invention, when you see it? You should; otherwise, there would be none.

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Anonymous Coward

But they're not copying the iPhone

THERE'S PRIOR ART

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Danger, Will Robinson. Jobs RDF influence detected.

The claimed patent clearly describes a process well-covered by prior art, as numerous previous posters have pointed out.

Go read up why patents were originally introduced, and ask yourself if the current uses that the legislation are being put to are compatible with the original goals.

Finally... Apple, in all its life, introduced comparatively little that was novel. It is a tribute to Steve's excellent marketing and design skills, his attention to detail, and finally the power of the RDF that World+Dog believes it to be a significant innovator.

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"Do you not value the protection of invention...?"

I think we all do. What we fear is that this sort of idiocy will lead to a situation where only the biggest companies will be able to successfully invent/innovate. The small inventors will not get a look in as anything a startup creates will already be covered by a speculative patent. Or they will simply be suppressed by legal action if their invention strays onto the turf of the big boys even if there is no infringement.

It is the death of innovation.

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Anonymous Coward

@"inventor"

This is not an invention. It is an obvious usage of existing (at the time) technology. The patent should never have been granted due to it's obviousness. I was writing code that detected and "hyperlinked" (as I didn't know it was called) 6 years before this patent was applied for. Yes, I did check the patent dates.

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Answers

"Is there any question that the iPhone is his invention set"

Er, yes. Put simply, Jobs was the figure-head, all the hard work was, and is done by Wozniak and the engineers. To be honest, I'd be surprised if his input went beyond "No, I want it to be four icons across!" and "can we make this in white as well as black?"

"that it is demonstrably better"

If it's so much better, then why 1) dont they let the much better product perform in the market, instead of using ridiculous patents, and 2) why, even at the premium end of the market, does Android sell so well?

" that the public has paid for it as such"

The public has paid for it? I didn't realise Apple was a government owned company

"and that he had every right to protect his inventions"

Genuinely new inventions, yes, absolutely. However, email clients have been doing this highlight types of data for years, as have phones, picking numbers out of text messages.

"Do you commentors doubt that there are not tens or hundreds of other patents that could yet be asserted?"

No, don't doubt this at all, and I expect they are all as petty and stupid as this.

"Do you not value the protection of invention, when you see it?"

See above.

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Rob
Trollface

Let me help you...

... this is the icon you were probably looking for......

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Stop

"Do you not value the protection of invention, when you see it?"

Absolutely, but you may wish to look up the definition of "invention".

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