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back to article Troll sues Apple for daring to plug headphones into iPhone

A patent hoarding firm is suing Apple for $3m for allegedly ripping off a protected design that describes plugging headphones into a mobile phone. Intelligent Smart Phone Concepts, a Delaware company with no web presence, launched its legal action against iPhone-maker Apple in California. ISPC has demanded damages for the …

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Sounds like a repeat of the site name holding carpet baggers of the past

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Facepalm

I am sure

I had plug in headsets like that on my mobile phone well before it was "invented".

How did this get approved?

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US Patient Office

Where they employ those too stupid to work at the DMV

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Re: US Patient Office

Nay nay.

People too stupid to work at the DMV get jobs in McDonalds. People too stupid to work there go to BK. Too stupid for the King and they go to Wendy's. Too stupid for square burgers and they work for the TSA. Only those too stupid to fondle weary travelers get to the dizzy depths of the USPTO.

The USPS is probably in there somewhere.

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Facepalm

Re: I am sure

Same here, my first Nokia phone came with one... that was in 1997 i think

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Re: I am sure

Never mind that, even the iPhone had plug in headsets like that before it was "invented".

iPhone was released in 2007, and would have been in development for some time before that. This patent was granted in 2008.

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Re: US Patient Office

>The USPS is probably in there somewhere.

Right between Wendy's and the TSA: It's legally bound to employ all the stupid people it can find.

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Re: I am sure

Shame it was filed in March 2002, which is the important date. Still doesn't detract from the vast swathes of phones that pre-date this that came with a 3.5mm jack plugged headset & mic combo, though. Can't see how this will succeed apart from if Apple's reasoning is along the lines of "it'll cost us more than $3m to get the patent sunk, so we may as well pay".

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Paris Hilton

Re: I am sure

Same way as rounded corner design and page turns along with slide to unlock and other "great inventions"...

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Re: US Outpatient Office

People too stupid to work there go to BK

Despite that, I find BK burgers less unpalatable than McD's

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Re: I am sure

It won't really cost Apple anything to contest the patent: they can show "blitheringly obvious" prior art pre-trial; if they then win in a full trial, they'll then claim and get costs.

Of course they don't really have costs in the same way a small company do: they have specialist IP laywers on staff, so its just what they do in their 9-to-5. Perhaps it might stop them suing somebody else for a week though...

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Happy

Re: US Outpatient Office

@stoneshop - i find that this varies per country... and per airport ;-)

In the US i drink Pepsi; in the Netherlands i drink Coke... tastes more like the Pepsi from the US over there ;-)

McKroket - hmmmm....

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Re: I am sure

It's a short-sighted approach from Apple (and others). This one costs less than $3m to settle, but the trolls will come back with another little one a bit later. It's like paying the Danegeld, they'll come back for more each time.

Investing the money to try to bankrupt the troll in legal fees in a court case might be more cost-effective in the longer term.

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Re: I am sure

"It won't really cost Apple anything to contest the patent: they can show "blitheringly obvious" prior art pre-trial; if they then win in a full trial, they'll then claim and get costs."

Makes a change from hounding other manufacturers, claiming patent infringement on blitheringly obvious details

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FAIL

Kipling knew better

We never pay any-one Dane-geld, // No matter how trifling the cost; // For the end of that game is oppression and shame, // And the nation that pays it is lost!

For nation read company, for Dane read troll (didn't trolls come from Denmark anyway? )

the whole poem is worth reading http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/dane_geld.html

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Facepalm

Re: US Patient Office

See http://www.freepatentsonline.com/crazy.html for "patents" granted by the UStupPidTO, there are some gems in there including there:-

Patent Trolling Application - by Halliburton

Apparatus for facilitating the birth of a child by centrifugal force

Anti-Eating Mouth Cage

Electrified table cloth

Method of exercising a cat (with a laser pointer)

Motorized ice cream cone

Mug incorporating a simulated artificial horizon

Stud Spectacles - Eyeglasses that don't need a frame because they attach to body piercings on the face!!!

Device For Moistening The Adhesive Coating On Postage Stamps and Envelopes - "The applicator may be in the form of a human tongue" - Wow, I wish I'd thought of that!!!!

and my fav.....

Dog Nose Art - Dog nose smudges as art.....

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Re: US Patient Office

You forgot: Crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

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Facepalm

Re: US Patient Office

"Stud Spectacles - Eyeglasses that don't need a frame because they attach to body piercings on the face!!!"

Hey, that's actually pretty cool. And if they came up with a novel design for the attachment points, could well be worth a patent.

Face smack, for the pain when your son accidentally kicks your glasses off and rips out your body piercings...

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Re: Kipling knew better

for Dane read troll (didn't trolls come from Denmark anyway? )

Trolls (the smelly, living-under-bridges type) originate from Norway.

Danegeld is a sort-of tax levied by the Vikings as a way to not have your village raped and your women pillaged.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Kipling knew better

aka. a protection racket, also known to Doug and Dynsdale as the "Other, other operation"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: US Patient Office

Which is more of a stupid patent, plugging headphones into a mobile phone, or patenting a rectangle with rounded corners? The really big mistake that this company made was only asking for 3 mil. They should have gone for 1 billion plus. Using patents like these against other companies is nothing but legalized extortion.

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Linux

Re: I am sure

The patient office staff thought is was Apples patent application. Those are rubber stamped on sight.

Hey, if Apple can patent a rectangle with round sides...then this is fair game.

I don't like it, but Apple is a major abuser of the failing system as well.

Do we need to start a petition demanding the entire restructuring of the US Patent office? How can We start the process to correct what is clearly flawed?

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Terminator

Re: Kipling knew better

Hmmmm... sounds suspiciously like Microsoft's Linux "strategy"

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Boffin

@David W - Re: US Patient Office

Yes, I thought the spectacles attached with face studs the only one there worth a patent. I must admit it was not "obvious". Perhaps because it is so bizzare, and yet it might actally be useful.

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Re: US Patient Office

I love the way that list just fades out, most effective!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I am sure

Do we need to start a petition demanding the entire restructuring of the US Patent office? How can We start the process to correct what is clearly flawed?

C4

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Karma

Ridiculous obviously. But no more ridiculous than we have become used to.

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Pint

Re: Karma

Rubbish! Just look at the innovation that has gone in to this patent.

They filed this in 2002, which everyone knows is before "mobile phones" were able to be used to transmit your voice, hence the idea they had to add a microphone to the headphones. Genius!

Or maybe the innovation that the USPTO care about is being innovative enough to file for a patent that no one else bothered to?

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Re: Karma

Or maybe the innovation that the USPTO care about is being innovative enough to file for a patent that no one else bothered to?

By Jove, I think he's cracked it!

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Apple will reap what they have sown.

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" Apple will reap what they have sown."

How, exactly? In spite of years of mediocre products, a totalitarian disdain for their sheep/ customers and endless bloody patent lawsuits for 'innovations' they nicked from other companies, they are still the biggest tech firm in the world.

They've sown a hell of a lot over the years, and have yet to 'reap' even a small percentage of it.

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JDX
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Re: " Apple will reap what they have sown."

It must so hurt people like you when Apple continue to pile in the billions for their well-reviewed 'mediocre products'.

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WTF?

Time to remove the I from IP

No intellect is required for this kind of innovation.

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Flame

Re: Time to remove the I from IP

I stands for Idiotic

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Re: Time to remove the I from IP

IP = Idiotic Patent

Cool! So what's USPTO?

U Sure Patent The Obvious?

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Coat

"A patent hoarding firm" - the biter, bit!

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Pint

One Bitburger coming right up!

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Mushroom

Not gonna win that one

The patent fails the tests needed. There is prior evidence of this happening, and it is obvious too - headsets exist for walkie talkies, and its not a big leap to move to mobile phones, headsets exist for old walkman devices, and again it isn't a big leap. So, it it is neither original or non-obvious.

Apple should open fire with all guns here.

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Pint

Re: Not gonna win that one

On the contrary - I hope there are shitloads more like this. The constant drip drip drip of pointlessness is eroding away the last remnants of credibility of the patent system as a whole. one day someone will wake up and bring the whole lot down, pointing to assholes like the ones who brought this as the reason for its demise.

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Holmes

Re: Not gonna win that one

More importantly purely in the telephony realm:

My Nokia from '99 had a headset jack.

Western Electric (manufacturing arm of the old Bell System) had telephone subsets fitted with headset jacks at least as far back as 1965 and switchboards and call-director sets even earlier.

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Re: Not gonna win that one

Apple should open fire with all guns here.

A pea shooter is the heaviest artillery needed for this battle.

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Re: Not gonna win that one

Don't even need the Walkie-talkie example.. the patent actually cites the 2.5mm, 4-pin connector in popular use for phone headphones long before 2002 for cellphone use. The point of their invention seems to be incorporating two different jacks, one for regular phone use, one for "other uses", presumably music or other audio.

That's still an obvious way to do it, if pretty stupid. The way everyone else actually does it -- use the same headphone jack for audio or phone calls, is a much more intelligent way of solving the same problem, and should not be an issue with this patent, IMHO. Ok, maybe I want to bring back the walkie-talkie specifically, since it's been very common for walkie-talkies and other wireless "push-to-talk" radios to have a double-plug connector, very much like what they're showing, though one is for the headset, the other for the mic plus PTT button. I would claim that if they read on Apple's single 4-pin connector, then they're not different enough from the traditional radio headset connector to keep the patent.

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The heart of the problem

We all know this, but the heart of the problem is clearly the US patent office. Based on the approved patent, they may well have a case. The problem is that only a moron would have approved it in the first place.

How the hell do we come back from this state of craziness?

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TRT
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Re: The heart of the problem

Wasn't it Marconi that kicked the whole patent frenzy off?

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Re: The heart of the problem

Part of the US system is a legal undertaking from the inventors to bring all potential prior art they know of to the US patent office's attention duing the application process. Failure to do so is a criminal act. Its always tricky to prove what somebody doesn't know, but sometimes the blitheringly obvious really should try to lock some of these nutters away.

As to why the USPTO didn't spot the blitheringly obvious - it's all been said before. Not fit for purpose.

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Paris Hilton

Re: The heart of the problem

Part of the US system is a legal undertaking from the inventors to bring all potential prior art they know of to the US patent office's attention duing the application process. Failure to do so is a criminal act. Its always tricky to prove what somebody doesn't know, but sometimes the blitheringly obvious really should try to lock some of these nutters away.

So the stoopider you are, the more stoopid "patents" you're allowed?

Sounds like a recipe for success.

So Apple Inc must be extra super ultra stoopid? ..but where does Paris Hilton fit into this?

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2008?

Not that the iPhone was the first (by a long long long way) but the iPhone itself was released before this patent was granted. How do they expect it to stand up in court?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 2008?

This is the US craziness of "first to invent". The idea is that you provide proof of when you invented it, and that is the date. This made sense in the early days when someone in Buffalo could have invented the wheel a year before they made it to the patent office through the Indians and the British Army, but not so much nowadays. Corporations loved it because a big corp had the resources in old stocks of lab notebooks and old pens that they could forge records to "prove" something was invented years before filing (I have worked for a US company, I have seen the piles in the stockroom...)

And then the USPTO gets paid according to grants...and the test of "obviousness" seems to be to show the patent to a chimpanzee and see if it laughs.

The US is now moving to a "first to file" like the civilised world, but there are still trainloads of bad patents out there.

Years ago I filed a US patent. A real, genuine patent based on expensive and time consuming research which demonstrated that something believed impossible could actually be done, using ingenious technology. The patent attorney asked me "Is this a real invention?" and when told it was, remarked that he didn't see many of those; in fact, the last one had so impressed him that he had gone in with the inventor.

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Boffin

@ribosome

Whas the patent ever granted? If so, can you link to the patent #? In either case, what was the invention?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ribosome

Yes, but I'm not falling for that one.

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