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back to article ITC denies Apple an emergency ban on ALL HTC PHONES

US regulator the International Trade Commission has denied Apple's attempt to get an emergency ban on all HTC mobes. The fruity firm is accusing HTC of violating an existing exclusion order that's been in effect since December. The ITC issued the ban after finding that HTC was infringing on a patent that allows folks to isolate …

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This is getting ridiculous. Apple are trying to get all phones from all manufacturers banned for frivolous patents, like the ability to recognize a phone number (erm, didn't Skype do that before the iPhone?)

Apple is less and less an innovator and more and more a patent troll.

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Anonymous Coward

Before diving head first, check there is water in the pool

This patent is from LONG before Skype. It was filed in '96.

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Trollface

The trolls used to guard just the one bridge, and extract their frivilous tolls, but now it seems they're trying to guard all the bridges.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Before diving head first, check there is water in the pool

> It was filed in '96.

And I'm sure the Motorola phone I owned back then already picked out phone numbers from text messages.

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Re: Before diving head first, check there is water in the pool

"This patent is from LONG before Skype. It was filed in '96."

OK, so we want to ban a company's entire phone roster based on a pretty rubbish patent from nearly twenty years ago. Oh, that makes it so much better.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Before diving head first, check there is water in the pool

"erm, didn't Skype do that before the iPhone?"

"This patent is from LONG before Skype. It was filed in '96."

"OK, so we want to ban a company's entire phone roster based on a pretty rubbish patent from nearly twenty years ago. Oh, that makes it so much better."

I didn't wanna play anyway! Wah!

A patent is a patent - the issue date or your opinion of how 'rubbish' it is, is irrelevant.

It is highly amusing you are critisicing Apple for not innovating enough because someone has been called out for copying them. Perhaps HTC should be 'more innovative' rather than infringing on someone else's patents..?

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Re: Before diving head first, check there is water in the pool

Put into less vague terms, the measure of how 'rubbish' is a patent is relevant. If it fails to meet the criteria of non-obviousness then it could be invalidated. Personally I think that performing a regex scan on text and replacing matches with hyper links that trigger an appropriate callback is fairly obvious but I am speaking with the benefit of hindsight and with an opinion that the vast majority of software patents just aren't all that inventive and are granted due to lack of appropriate expertise at the USPTO.

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Re: Before diving head first, check there is water in the pool

Apple's been completely derivative for decades. For example, the iPad? Introduced by Bill Gates in 1997. First seen in Star Trek (the TV series) in the 1960s.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Before diving head first, check there is water in the pool

Yeah, strange how they haven't bothered defending the patent all these years ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Huh?

Yeah, 'cos of course, Apple is the only phone manufacturer suing anyone else, and all non-Apple initiated lawsuits only target Apple don't they?

Oh, hang on... No, that's complete and utter BOLLARDS!

Out-of-date, but still relevant: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/oct/04/microsoft-motorola-android-patent-lawsuit#

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Re: Before diving head first, check there is water in the pool

Patenting regex 'on a mobile device' is a joke.

I had a high school comp sci homework assignment to write a program that picked out phone numbers from text.

High school.

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Gimp

Re: Before diving head first, check there is water in the pool

Agreed. I'm a big fanboi but this is just ridiculous. HTC deserve to win this.

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WTF?

Re: Before diving head first, check there is water in the pool

If the patent is that old then the logical question is:

Why *now*???

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Re: Before diving head first, check there is water in the pool

How about checking the diving board for fractures before bouncing? Hehehehe. (imagine the appearance....)

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FAIL

Re: Before diving head first, check there is water in the pool

Well, Ericsson GH388 was launched in 1995 and could dial a phone number from a SMS. Extract from manual p42. Ericsson publication number EN/LZT 126 1298 R1A dated October 1995:

"To call a phone number in a message

Press YES when a phone number is found

in the display to call the number direct.

After the number has been called, the message

is considered as read"

Enough water in the pool now?

I do NOT understand why this previous art has not invalidated that bs patent long ago. Sad that Ericsson didn't file a patent, then they could sue both Apple and HTC :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Once again missing the interesting part of the story...

What the article is missing is the feature apple are complaining about, and why it's still in there. It's the old 'data tapping' patent (where say a phone number in a web page gets detected, and you can tap it to bring up a list of options like calling it, or adding it to your address book). They won on this patent previously, and HTC had to remove it - which they did, almost.

Problem is, it still seems to be there in the gmail client. HTC says this is OK, because this part of android isn't open, they don't have the source code and they can't remove the feature - but they're still effectively shipping an infringing product, which is a big risk for them. The ITC could have banned their phones.

So the question is: why the hell isn't google doing something about it? They're putting their partners at huge risk by continuing to include this feature after it's been found to infringe. They should at least give HTC the option to disable it!

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Re: Once again missing the interesting part of the story...

GMail is a Google product. Why isn't it Googles problem.

If you ship a computer and bundle a copy of Quake with it, your not responsible if some patent troll tries to sue for extensive use of brown in a computer interface.

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Re: Once again missing the interesting part of the story...

I'd happily uninstall the GMail client on my Android phone, along with 90% of the other stuff that I'm stuck with but never use.

Don't patents last for 20 years? So only another four to go on that one. Or is US patent duration as elastic as their copyright's?

Apple are just upset that some people are shipping phones better than theirs, and that some of us wouldn't buy an iPhone or iPad anyway because we don't want to be locked in, especially when they have this sort of attitude.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Once again missing the interesting part of the story...

If thats the case, then how come apple havent gone after samsung on this as well? or have they and got ruled against?

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WTF?

"Software petents" - WTF ?

"...a patent that allows folks to isolate data such as phone numbers in emails and then call the number."

A feature that IIRC my Nokia 3210 had 10 years ago - OK, not from emails, but in SMS.

The whole worlds gone mad, I tell you.

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Re: "Software petents" - WTF ?

Well at the moment it's mainly the USA. Unfortunately as patient zero, they have a horrible habit of sharing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Software petents" - WTF ?

10 years ago is still 6 years after apple filed this one. Amazingly enough, HTC have thought about checking prior art, and the ITC have actually looked at the evidence HTC could find - and they decided the patent is valid.

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Stop

Re: "Software petents" - WTF ?

Sounds like a feature that grep had in 1973. Wanting to isolate numbers in text? Try a regular expression like "[0-9]+" with this utility.

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Alert

Re: "Software patents" - WTF ?

OK, fair point. Next question ...

did Apple sue Nokia (assuming it was Nokia that first bought this feature to market) ?

If the answer is "no" then is there not a principle that by not defending the patent, Apple have let it lapse ? ISTR this is the argument people come up with when people *do* sue on patents. "Oh, they have to defend their patent, or it'll be invalidated".

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Re: "Software petents" - WTF ?

The cost of checking for potentially problematic patents fully could exceed the cost of designing the phone.

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Re: "Software petents" - WTF ?

Wow! Apple fanboys are truly the worst...

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Re: "Software patents" - WTF ?

@JimmyPage

Sadly not. You do have to defend Trademarks, but not Patents. That's why so-called submarine patents are so dangerous. The patent holders are quite within their rights to sit back and quietly let the damages add up.

That said, I do think that if a company can be shown to be aware of infringement they should have to defend or lose.

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Anonymous Coward

Lame.

Really frickin' lame.

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An inconsequential but useful feature

Why is the ability to tag a phone number and dial it seen to be so important that it warrants banning the sale or distribution of another companies phones across the USA? This is IPR gone mad. Yes its a useful feature but would I pay more for this feature in a phone worth £500? Would I decide not to buy a phone because the feature was not available? Probably not.

I don't know about everyone else but I am fed up with the incessant stream of litigation between phone companies that focus on inconsequential features and whose sole purpose seems to be to block competition.

The governments should investigate all these companies for anti-competitive activities.

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Re: An inconsequential but useful feature

They should check for douche-baggery as well. I believe that is the term our US cousins would use to refer to such actions.

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Re: An inconsequential but useful feature

Between phone companies? Only between Apple and everyone else.

Apple don't seem to have any confidence in their own product and don't trust their fanboys to not buy Apple products if a competitior had a similar feature to an Apple product.

So is it the legal team trying to exand their empire or is someone really worried about Apple's marketing team?

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Re: An inconsequential but useful feature

"Why is the ability to tag a phone number and dial it seen to be so important that it warrants banning the sale or distribution of another companies phones across the USA?"

Translation:

Why is it that when someone owns a patent, and someone infringes it that they suffer consequences?

What are you suggesting? That companies should be allowed to infringe patents with impunity? Where does that end? What would be the point of the patent system..?

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Ru

Re: "What would be the point of the patent system..?"

Wasn't the point of the patent system to protect the little guy providing novel things, in exchange for which everyone would be better off at the end of the patent term when the invention entered the public domain?

"What are you suggesting? That companies should be allowed to infringe patents with impunity?"

No, more like they should have a sense of perspective when demanding injuctive relief. Possibly the underlying argument could be extended to the awfulness of the software patent environment in the US where the tendency to grant protection and let the courts sort out the technical merits of the thing has a chilling effect on innovation and commerce worldwide.

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@Fitz

Richard 51's point was clearly about the original granting of the patent, and the subsequent upholding of the patent, not about allowing infringement. Your translation algorithm is worse than Google's.

"[S]o important that it warrants banning the sale or distribution of another companies [products] across the USA" should be the bar to which a technology rises in order to be granted a patent to begin with. That is, as you ask, the point of the patent system: to provide exclusive rights over a certain technology.

Since this technology is not that important (at least in the minds of the sane), the correct action would be to invalidate the patent. But that is almost impossible in this country, as mind-numbing obviousness is not considered a legal basis for invalidating such things, and the burden of proof is entirely upon the individual seeking to invalidate the patent.

I don't blame Apple, (or Motorola, etc.) They're businesses, and morality is not in their dictionary. Their sole purpose is to make money within the framework of their legal environment. It's not their fault that the legal system w/r/t patents is so broken in the US that something as obvious as this could be patented, upheld, and used to justify an import ban.

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Re: @Fitz

"I don't blame Apple, (or Motorola, etc.) They're businesses, and morality is not in their dictionary. Their sole purpose is to make money within the framework of their legal environment. It's not their fault that the legal system w/r/t patents is so broken in the US that something as obvious as this could be patented, upheld, and used to justify an import ban."

Absolutely which is my point - you cannot blame a company for enforcing it's patents. The question is should they have been granted a patent on something to obvious in the first place.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: An inconsequential but useful feature

I like it when people say "what are you suggesting?" when they really mean "I'm going to deliberately misinterpret what you've written to make a point that has nothing to do with what you've written, but I'd like everyone to see my point of view anyway".

Here's a clue, if you want an insight into what someone's suggesting, read what they've actually written.

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Re: @Fitz

"you cannot blame a company for enforcing it's patents"

Yes you can, they'er not legally obliged to defend this trivial piece of functionality, in fact they've not bothered for many years. You don't have to bully people simply because you can get away with it, Apple make a lot of money by selling products people want to buy. They could leave it at that and still keep their billions.

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Re: @Fitz

"Yes you can, they'er not legally obliged to defend this trivial piece of functionality, in fact they've not bothered for many years."

This sounds like a sensible way to behave - I trust you have the same attitude with regard to Motorola Mobility (owned by Google) currently prosecuting Apple for use of one of their technologies?

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Re: @Fitz

"I trust you have the same attitude with regard to Motorola Mobility"

If you're suggesting that I'm taking a specifically anti-Apple stance then there's no reason to assume that, after all I was even complimentary about their products.

As for the noise cancellation patent specifically, I don't know if that's an obvious concept (along the lines of a balanced cable for example) or a piece of genuine technology (e.g. a circuit they've researched and developed at cost to themselves). There's always grey areas too of course, but I don't think anyone would suggest that software to identify a number in a piece of text could ever fall into that.

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Trollface

Just think how much more awesome Apples products would be...

... if they spent less time hiring lawyers and bitching about people stealing their stuff and instead spent that time making their peerless products even more staggeringly attractive and wonderful.

Hey Apple, ever noticed how all smartphones LOOK THE FUCKING SAME, so what does it matter if HTC make a phone with a similar looking grommet which does similar things ever so slightly differently?

All anyone cares about is can they use it to cheat in the pub quiz. And does it do the Facebooks or not.

Yeah, trollface. What can you do?

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Re: Just think how much more awesome Apples products would be...

"... if they spent less time hiring lawyers and bitching about people stealing their stuff and instead spent that time making their peerless products even more staggeringly attractive and wonderful."

Ok let's say they do this, and people copy them and Apple don't bother to prosecute infringements against their patented designs. What do you think that would do to their share price? What would be the point of Apple? To design things for HTC and Samsung for free? How does that work?

"Hey Apple, ever noticed how all smartphones LOOK THE FUCKING SAME, so what does it matter if HTC make a phone with a similar looking grommet which does similar things ever so slightly differently?"

I think you will find the issue is patent infringement, not if something 'looks similar' (however that will probably get taken into account).

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Fair point well made.

I'm just jealous as I can't justify paying for a smartphone of any flavour.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just think how much more awesome Apples products would be...

Oh noes our share price is going down, its ok though because we have $11Billion in the bank. or something just as stupid no one need 11billion!

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Coat

Is it just me...

...or are Apple trying to ban everything that doesn't have an i in front of it?

I guess they must be really worried about the way phones are going...

Got my coat already - phone update day, and Vodafone have already asked me if I wanted to update to an 4S. Took me 10 mins to stop laughing at the nice person on the upgrade phoneline who called me to advise it was upgrade day....

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Re: Is it just me...

It's not just you - it's also other people who fail to grasp the concept of patent infringement when it applies to Apple's patents, but strangely it's ok when Google do it.

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-06-25/google-s-motorola-win-in-apple-iphone-patent-case-gets-review

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Re: Is it just me...

From the article you quote:

"The 3G patent that was found to be infringed covers a way to eliminate noise so signals are clearer."

Rather less obvious - and a damn sight more technical - than the "click on a phone number and do stuff" suit you're trying to justify

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Re: Is it just me...

Irrelevant - they have been granted the patent, they are within their rights to enforce it.

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Re: Is it just me...

That may be the case - but I know which of the two would last longer under serious scrutiny (unlike the "grant it anyway" mantra that exists at the moment)

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Stop

Patend must have expired...

"The ITC issued the ban after finding that HTC was infringing on a patent that allows folks to isolate data such as phone numbers in emails and then call the number."

Hmm, that was one of the first programs I had to write in my first job, extracting phone numbers, addresses, employee numbers etc. from large unformatted text files. As that was back in the mid 80s, either Apple's patent is invalid due to prior art, or it must have been patented before 1985, in which case, the patent should have expired...

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