back to article Apple guilty in iPhone ringtone patent rip-off battle with Sony, Nokia

Apple has been found guilty of patent infringement and told to pay $3m in damages. A jury in Delaware decided that the electronics giants did infringe a patent from MobileMedia Ideas – a holding company owned by Sony and Nokia – that covered the sound the iPhone makes when there is an incoming phone call. The decision brings …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    15 out of 16 patents despatched. Not a bad ratio.

    1. Philip Storry

      Especially for the lawyers.

      Oh, who the hell am I kidding? The ratio doesn't matter a damn to the lawyers. They win either way...

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge


      This is Apple we are talking about here.

      Some will say that it should have been 0 patents ruled invalid or dropped even if the patents were crap anyway.

      Some of these patents were blindingly obvious and IMHO in the class where they simply added 'on a mobile device' to an existing patents claims.

      1. VinceH

        Re: but...

        It's hard to choose a side in situations like this. Stupid patent trolls or MobileMedia Ideas. I mean Apple. I mean MobileMedia Ideas. Damn it, I'm confused about which side is which!

        Bottom line, though, is that if you live by the swordsilly patent, you dieget a very minor, barely noticeable scratch by the swordsilly patent.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: but...

        "This is Apple we are talking about here.

        Some will say that it should have been 0 patents ruled invalid or dropped even if the patents were crap anyway.

        Some of these patents were blindingly obvious and IMHO in the class where they simply added 'on a mobile device' to an existing patents claims."

        These were patents being enforced *against* Apple, not *by* them. Though I suppose you could be making the argument that "if you live by the sword, you die by the sword". Actually, as we're talking about legal argument here, maybe we need a new version: "if you live by the words...etc.".

    3. Steve Evans

      15 out of 16 patents dispatched. Not a bad ratio.

      You only need one to hold up and it's win win win...

      Which is why Apple, amongst others, spams the US patent system with ridiculous patents.

      The US patent system cashes the cheque and says thanks you without even looking at the application, leaving the lawyers to sort out what is and isn't worthy for years to come... The system is incredibly broken.

      If you were a small innovative company, you couldn't afford the lawyers to kill off the duff patent claims, so you're pretty screwed before you even get to market.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Even if you're a reasonably large innovative company, in the words of one patent lawyer "It doesn't matter whether the patent is valid or not".

        There are several features our customers are begging for, that we simple cannot offer because the holder of a bollocks patent won't even licence it to us - and almost bankrupted one of our competitors when they tried to fight it.

      2. salamamba too

        shouldn't the fine be all the iphone income since 2010?

        That's the formula apple went for against Samsung, and that was for the rounded corners bit.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "15 out of 16 patents despatched. Not a bad ratio."

      It's actually 12 out of 16. They were already found bang to rights on three of them. This last one is the one that was sent back for further scrutiny, and was found to be valid after all.

      Still not a bad ratio though.

  2. Sureo

    Lawyer's fees

    Just the cost of going around with a big stick threatening to beat up the other guy.

  3. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

    Patent madness

    Ahem . . .


    Sorry, I'll be going now . . . to take some tranquilizers.

    1. Graham Lockley

      Re: Patent madness

      Same way you can patent a paper bag ?

      1. Hans 1 Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Patent madness

        Just add "mobile" to it, and you have a patent ... Seriously, how can you patent "ringtone" .... sound waves coming from MOBILE device when specific data is received by MOBILE device ... basically, grab all Bell's patents, put "MOBILE" everywhere, cash-in!

        That court should be marshaled.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Patent madness


      How the hell can you not have realised that Reg articles tend to skimp on the details, and that it is not a sound that has been patented?

      An abstract of the patent in question, filed by Motorola in 1993, is worth reading for the typos (or rather dodgy OCR transcription, I assume):

      "This invention shag be designed to be independent of the flap position... ...The sohare [software] shall scan the MUTE key while the tlap is closed, which was not done previously. This invention shag also work while the flap is open since the keypad scan shall scan the full keypad as normal."[sic]

    3. beerfuelled

      Re: Patent madness

      I think in this case it looks like they're patenting the idea of silencing the ringer by briefly pressing the power button, while also still allowing the 'phone to be turned off by holding the power button for longer - both of which are things iPhones do, hence the infringement.

  4. armyknife

    How dare these patient trolls interfere with the Apple creative process.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Yes. How dare they patent their slavish copies of Apple's future innovations?

  5. Bibbit

    Is it just me...

    Or is Tim Cook a dead ringer for Paul O'Grady?

  6. ashdav

    Has anyone else noticed that all this s**t about the internet recently is derived from American companies?

    They seem to think that the "internet" belongs to them.

    I'll give it 10 years and they will be sidelined.

    Feel free to link back to this post.

    1. 404 Silver badge

      Feel free to go for it, take them down, Americans don't like them either.

      Edited to say: More than a few feel events are out of control. I vote every time, but the inevitable but, anyone new is assimilated into the Washington/Silicon Valley Borg upon arrival.

  7. whoseyourdaddy

    Safe to assume phones have been making sounds since Nokia started in the rubber footwear department?

    Never mind Nokia. How about Motorola?

  8. PaulR79

    "That led to another trial in which Apple argued [PDF] that the telephone ring patent was invalid because it was too vague."

    Good one, Apple! There I was thinking you lot had no sense of humour and you prove me wrong.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple vs Samsung

    Since Apple has set precedence on claims for patents infringements shouldn't Apple honour such precedence and forfeit its profits to Sony & Nokia?

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