April fools? So soon?
A Swiss company has filed a lawsuit against Apple claiming the iPhone infringes upon its patent for an "Electronic device, preferably an electronic book." The plaintiff - one Monec Holding Ltd of Berne, Switzerland - was founded in 2000 and describes itself on its website - which might most kindly be described as minimalist - …
This one had me worried for about three and a half seconds - until a quick look at Apple Insider showed that Monec had made a fatal mistake back in 1999 when they filed for this patent. They have described an e-Reader quite well but they do specify an LCD screen - and my Sony PRS-505 uses e-Ink.
What joy. I care not a toss, of course, as to whether the patent covers the iPhone but I suspect there is too much prior art and obviousness for Steve Jobs to lose too much sleep over it. Although, if this is the case, why did HP settle?
How can they settle out of court when it's obvious they are trolls - how are they getting this far? can elreg dig up more info on this? this doesnt' make sense - hp settilng out of court when they could just stomp the cr** out them and send them to oblivion??? what gives?
else where do we patent these pathetic patents? I'll patent communicating between a display and a set of biological occular balls enabling a person to read of a screen.. then right up another patent defining each colour etc.... then just settle out of court...
hmmm $$$$ kerching...
How did this ever get a patent, there is abundant examples of prior art for this idea which preceeds the formation of this company. For starters watch any episode of Star Trek even the 1960's episodes and you'll see examples of e-books where the Kirk signs off stuff on an electronic pad with a stylus. In the Next Generation series this progressed to touch sensitive pads no thicker than an iphone which could be updated wirelessly from the ships mainframe.
This is just another example of how some people think they can get rich from doing nothing! All goes back to the US patent office changing its funding model to one based on how many patents it approved. The whole system needs a broom through it.
I have long thought that it is way too easy to get patents. Many granted patents are either obvious or have lots of prior art, so either the patent offices are clueless, lazy or they simply grant patents for all applications out of fear of being sued for damages if they reject a patent and someone else later gets a patent for the same idea.
Another problem is that searches for prior art is only done in patent databases, so if an idea has been around for ages, but has not been patented, the patent offices will assume it is new.
The patent system need a thorough overhaul. I think some of the proof obligations should be moved to the patent applicants: They must prove (with copies of search sessions) that they have searched a specified set of public databases and media for prior art, and the patent office has only to judge if that search was thorough enough (i.e., if it covered all reasonable reformulations of the claims), they would not have to do the search themselves.
To judge non-obviousness of a claim, the claimant must be required to formulate the problem that the claim is meant to solve. The patent office can then send this problem formulation to a number of practitioners in the field and give them 24 hours to sketch a solution. If any of these specialists come up with the same solution as the claim, the claim is deemed obvious. The practitioners are paid by the patent fee.
Additionally, a patent should have a lifetime that depends on the thoroughness of the investigation. A patent granted for one year would need only one practitioner to try to come up with a solution and would require only search in a limited database for prior art. A patent granted for a decade or longer would require at least 5 practitioners, one of which holds a Ph.D, to come up with a solution and a very thorough search should be made. Of course, this will be costlier. A short patent can be extended, but additional search for prior art should be presented, and additional practitioners should be asked to solve the problem. The latter will be a problem if the patent is well known, as it will be difficult to find a practitioner that has not already heard of the claim. Still, for most patents, this isn't the case.
Monec built the fabled Monec Voyager years back and haven't done much since, I'm surprised they're still around. The Voyager a tablet-PC with integrated GPS and Mobile-Phone. It was a bit of a Frankenstein, cobbled together from more or less off the shelf parts that didn't really want to play together.
It was a bit ahead of it's time, Windows didn't support touchscreen input very well and you needed to integrate a touch-keyboard in your application, if you wanted to be able to type.
Mine's the one with all the venture capital in it.
.....part of me wishes i'd filed stuff like this ages ago.
I'd be cruising through the recession on a cloud of dodgy-patent cash.
To those asking how this could ever be granted....the US patent system no longer even looks at them, due to budget cuts, they put the burden of proving your own IP upon other people.
This means lawyers, lots of lawyers. Its often easier to just pay the troll toll, as HP did.
I hope Apple take em to the fucking cleaners though.
I'm quite iked. Not with Monec, but with HP foir settling out of court.
My Ghast is equally as flabbered as everyone else that they actually settled, but then shock turned to anger as I realised that they shirked their corporate responsibilty and by their actions have actively encouraged these and other con artists.
OK, even I had re-read "corporate responsibility" and laugh, but that in itself is a very sad commentary on our western culture.
The American Patent framework is fundementally broken from decades of corrupt government allowing crooked business practices to flourish. The whole thing needs to be torn down and re-built from the ground up.
Either way Let's hope Jobs makes an example out of them.
Furthermore, our Sony Readers (your PRS-505 and my PRS-700) don't communicate wirelessly. They're synced by USB cable, so they do not fall under the patent's onus there, either.
@John: For the "prior art" argument to work, the object in question must exist or have existed in real life. Wireless PDA didn't really catch on until the early part of this decade and closer to the midpoint.
John, you may need to sit down for this ... Star Trek isn't real. Sorry.
And, it's 23rd century (for Kirk) so it could hardly be "prior" art anyway :-)
I am not an IP lawyer (I'm not rich!) but I believe there needs to be a "creative" jump that is non-obvious and hasn't been described before (for the development of a "real" device).
For many of the features claimed, there is prior art, the argument may be that pulling them together into a coherant single device was a creative and non-obvious leap. Looking back things are often more obvious than they were at the time (e.g. "one-click purchasing").
I do think that Star Trek however does take away that "creative jump" if such devices were being described and it was merely a matter of figuring out the requisite technology.
As I understand it, the whole thing about the patent system is that, provided you meet the filing requirements and are not obviously trying to patent something obvious or already in existence, then they accept the patent application and wait for others to knock it down.
And as has been said above, sometimes it's cheaper for a company like HP to say "here's some cash, now piss off" rather than go through the entire court system and take down the bad patent. And the patent holder has been clever going after one company at a time so they don't gang together to fund one patent search/destroy mission!
I have just filed my own patent.
It's for an device which can be used for a multitude of various unspecified tasks, and can use a variety of unspecified inputs to produce even more outputs (type unspecified) with or without user interface, and has an unspecified form factor built using unspecified materials.
Think that covers it, now where is the number for that law firm......
The patent offices should now have a public facing office that allows any person to go in, show prior art of existing patents that have nothing to do with that person in particular, and cause that patent to be re-examined, and 9 times out of 10 revoked.... if said service exists, can some kind souls please start up a patent-troll-crushing website (subsidised by advertising or donations obviously) and then we can stop these company's making money out of other companies being too lazy to fight a patent challenge that would cost more than a settlement in court.
If this service already exists... apologies... can you point me to their site so I can start building cases against these trolls.
Burn em all!!
well there goes the next fifty years of innovation.
I was looking forward to people actually getting around to inventing stuff like this.
but instead it will be stifled, because the guy putting in the hard work will have it all ruined by the guy who once said.
wouldn't it be cool if there were an e-book where the pages would turn when I thought it.
To be honest I feel that the system needs a shake up. people shouldn't be allowed to patent vague ideas, (like brain controlled books) without proof of concept.
his proof of concept could have been a room sized MRI scanner that measured his brain patterns and turned a page or scrolled down or something, something actual, real and tangible.
these wouldn't it be cool if ideas shouldn't be allowed. at least if they are patentable then it should be for a fixed short period of time, that would allow dreamers to try to sell ideas without getting ripped off...
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