Apple Asks Supreme Court to Curb Patent Abuse Amid New $2 Billion Patent Lawsuit

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple is joining Google and 13 other companies in a combined effort to curb frivolous lawsuits from patent holding companies, reports Bloomberg. Speaking to the Supreme Court justices, Apple said it has been sued 92 times by patent companies in the last two years. It currently has 228 unresolved patent claims and employs two lawyers who are dedicated to responding to royalty demands.
    Apple and the other technology companies are asking the Supreme Court to make it easier for companies to collect attorney's fees when patent holding companies lose infringement lawsuits. This allocation of fees, they argue, would cut down on the number of frivolous suits.

    Just as Apple moves to seek judicial assistance in addressing patent abuse in the U.S., German patent holding firm IPCom has filed two patent infringement lawsuits in the German court system that accuse Apple of infringing on cellular technology it owns (via FOSS Patents). Both the European and German patents describe methods of managing priority emergency access when wireless networks are overloaded. Apple could pay more than $2 billion in damages if it loses these legal battles.

    IPCom obtained both patents from German automotive parts company Robert Bosch GmbH. Apple, Nokia, HTC and others asked the European Patent Office to invalidate the European patent, but the EPO denied this request.

    Article Link: Apple Asks Supreme Court to Curb Patent Abuse Amid New $2 Billion Patent Lawsuit
  2. musika macrumors 65816


    Sep 2, 2010
    New York
    That's a nuts amount of money. Patent trolls are getting worse and worse.
  3. AngerDanger, Feb 5, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2014

    AngerDanger macrumors 68030


    Dec 9, 2008
    In related news: Apple patents mitosis. All organisms to pay licensing fees.

  4. Tankmaze macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2012
    Finally all these companies suing each other has a common enemy : patent trolls.
    They are the worse.
  5. H2SO4 macrumors 68040

    Nov 4, 2008
  6. The Economist macrumors 6502

    The Economist

    Apr 4, 2011
  7. Parasprite macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2013
    Okay, Apple and Google.

    I wonder if I've ever heard of the other 11.
  8. Jsameds macrumors 68030

    Apr 22, 2008
    They should make a wish. Double-yolkers bring you good luck!
  9. BootsWalking macrumors 6502

    Feb 1, 2014
    Any company that sues over a 'rounded corner' patent doesn't deserve the right to call any other company a patent troll.
  10. 3282868 macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    LOL awesome

    Seriously though, Myriad Genetics, a company that had been awarded patents on the so-called BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes in the 1990s, tried to go further. Surprisingly the [rather conservative leaning] Supreme Court struck it down last year:

    However, this blew my mind:

    So let's recap:

    - A company can have whole or partial claim to DNA and cDNA

    - Monsanto, a company that has GMO patented corn and other products, can sue farmlands in which the "patented" product may grow due to pollination. Many farms are folding due to barren crops and climate change, allowing Monsanto to sue, buy and move into the land. As corn is used in a lot of goods, soon Monsanto (and Dow) may be controlling much of the worlds necessary commodities.

    Yup, no problems there.
  11. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
    As used here, the term "frivolous lawsuits" means lawsuits that the defendants find annoying or irksome. The real meaning of the term is without value or merit. If a patent infringement suit is successful (and many are), this means (by definition) that it wasn't frivolous at all. These companies aren't worried about truly frivolous lawsuits. They are concerned about the ones that have merit under the laws.

    Words matter.
  12. akm3 macrumors 68020

    Nov 15, 2007
    This is the danger. If you are a little guy that legitimately invents and patents something, and big bad Apple or whoever comes in and steals it because they figure you are too small to fight, you are now a frivolous lawsuit. That is wrong. This is strengthening the bad patent system instead of fixing it.
  13. zorinlynx macrumors 601


    May 31, 2007
    Florida, USA
    I think patents should be use 'em or lose 'em.

    If you have a patent and don't want to manufacture the product, sell it to someone who will. If you hold onto patents and don't make anything using those patents, after some time you lose your ability to defend it.

    That would solve 99% of the patent troll problem.
  14. phillipduran macrumors 65816


    Apr 30, 2008
    I dunno, if you're violating a patent that's that. What argument do you have that it's not fair that you don't have the opportunity to dig up some wrong doing on the other guys side to lessen the blow against you? Kinda silly argument if I understand this whole process correctly.
  15. iSRS macrumors 6502


    Mar 2, 2010
    Great second post. Welcome. Look forward to more of your insight, nailing something on the head. That is EXACTLY what Apple did. I was riveted by their lawsuit against Dove Chocolate, for their use of rounded corners on those Promises chocolates, and then was so happy when they went after Sunbeam Bread for the rounded corners on their King White Sandwich bread. Next up, is the maker of DVD and Blu-ray cases, and I am really hoping they go after Microsoft for the rounded corners used on active apps in the Window 7 task bar...

    Very good point. "Frivolous lawsuits" is lazy. More accurately, it is annoying lawsuits by Non Practicing Entities, who often don't even come up with the idea they buy. This should be better regulated. Here is a suggestion.

    I develop a new way of doing something. I patent it, and am awarded such patent. I then have x number of years (2 to start, can be flexible depending on the complexity) to develop into a product. If I succeed? My patent is extended to 5-10 years. Then it is over. If, however, at some point in time I sell my patent to a NPE? That NPE gets exactly 2 years, then they are done unless they, in turn develop it into a product (not wait for someone else to do it, then buy/sue).

    Also, all trials should be filed and forced to be tried where the offender is, not in a court that is preferential to NPEs. When I had to take a landlord to small claims court, I was told I should file in the county the landlord lived, not mine. So the case should be tried where the accused is, not some random spot.
  16. johnmacward macrumors regular


    Jul 12, 2011
    A small case of the "Pot calling the kettle black".
  17. kdarling macrumors demi-god


    Jun 9, 2007
    Cabin by a lake
    Talk about hypocrites!

    Apple and its pals just took the $4.5B of patents they bought from Nortel, and gave them to a patent holding company that they created explicitly to troll other companies.

    That company does not use the patents themselves, and consists only of a small group of engineers who do nothing but comb through other companies' tech to see if they can sue them with some of the transferred patents.
  18. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
    You got it. The courts can already award costs to a defendant if they find that a suit was without merit. The issue before the Supreme Court is whether the standard for awarding costs should be lower than it is today. My problem with this story is that it repeated the industry's spin language without reading the proper meaning into it.
  19. Brian Y macrumors 68040

    Oct 21, 2012
    The problem is easily solved: you can only claim patent infringement if you a) own the patent and b) actively use it yourself (not licensing).

    If you own a patent which you just use, and just license it (i.e. are a holding company) - you should have no right to sue. You thought of the idea, but are not actively using it.
  20. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
    As it happens, the unsuccessful plaintiff in one of the suits before the Court couldn't be called a "non-practicing entity" by any definition. They make actual products; they just happened to lose their suit.
  21. scoobydoo99 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2003
    so cal
    Exactly! This is a case of the big corporations (Apple, Google, etc) being indignant and outraged that someone else can use their tactics against them. TOO BAD! If the courts allow curbs to patent suits, it will only empower the big guys to operate with impunity in the marketplace without having to pay for their own transgressions.

    Their assertion that the patent holding companies are immune to countersuits (since they don't produce products) is very telling. In other words, Apple/Google/et al would use a frivilous patent suit as a weapon if they could, so it's "not fair" that they can't!
  22. dustinsc macrumors regular

    Nov 21, 2009
    Congress needs to make patent rights usufructuary (big word, but it happens to be the most accurate). That is, if you don't use it within some period of time, you lose it.
  23. Nunyabinez macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2010
    Provo, UT
    Actually, the determination of a lawsuit being frivolous has nothing to do with the outcome. The determination of a frivolous lawsuit has to be made before it proceeds to trial, or at least when initial evidence is presented.

    Of course a lawsuit that wins couldn't be frivolous, but just because you lose doesn't mean it was frivolous.

    A judge determines if a lawsuit is frivolous. What these companies are asking for, is that once a judge makes that ruling they should be able to collect more from the plaintiff. This is to discourage people from filing lawsuits that have no chance of succeeding in hopes of extorting money from deep pockets.

    I don't believe this has anything to do at all with legitimate claims with the possibility of merit.
  24. ChrisCW11 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 21, 2011
    LOL that is rich

    Apple: "Supreme Court please curb patent abuse"
    Supreme Court: "Sure, you first Apple."

    Apple can't seriously think they are in the right here when they went after another company for billions in damages because the company used rounded rectangle icons. Also a vast majority of Apple's patents are never turned into products because they are trying to cripple their competition from being able to deliver disruptive products.

    How about Apple set an example that the industry can follow.

    For now, Apple clearly weaponized the patent to use against the competition and they are getting a little taste of that bitter, bitter medicine and obviously don't like what they started, tough.
  25. jamezr macrumors G3


    Aug 7, 2011
    Yep! I remember that....they are playing both sides of the fence.....depending on who they are in court and suing at the moment.....

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