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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
55,436
17,780


A small Texas based company is suing Apple, Samsung, and Sandisk for infringement on patent 7,065,417, which describes "an MPEG portable sound reproducing system and a method for reproducing sound data compressed using the MPEG method." According to InfoWorld, the suit was filed February 16th in Marshall, Texas, which has a reputation of being friendly to plaintiffs.

Apple, like many other large corporations, is routinely sued. In Apple's latest 10Q filing (pdf), Apple listed 33 outstanding lawsuits at the time. While most of the lawsuits brought against Apple never see press coverage, this one has seen increased interest from the tech community, possibly due to the recent Alcatel-Lucent MP3 licensing verdict against Microsoft.

That being said, it isn't clear what bearing, if any, the Alcatel-Lucent case will have on this lawsuit.
 

Analog Kid

macrumors 604
Mar 4, 2003
6,531
6,167
Ah... The double edged sword of patents... They encourage innovation, but they also encourage random sniping among tech companies in the hope of confusing a jury and winning big.

If there's something to the patent, Apple will settle. If it's bunk, they may fight it just to discourage more of this.
 

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
14,859
57
Is apple actually guilty of anything here?

Yes, of coming to market late.

Buying the iPod technology from someone else, and actually making it in the marketplace.

A lot of these patent cases are landmines, companies/people routinely used to get around existing patents and improve products without as much trouble as the broken patent system causes today.
 

Artofilm

macrumors 6502a
Oct 12, 2005
579
41
In news today, Apple is being sued by a company called Virosoft.
Virosoft is sueing Apple because of Apple's infringement on patent 7,065,417,543,005 which describes "ability to make patents on any service or product created by any company in the entire world"


Geez, I wish everyone would stop sueing just because they can't get successful like Apple and other companies can.
 

guzhogi

macrumors 68040
Aug 31, 2003
3,457
1,475
Wherever my feet take me…
I wonder why they're suing Apple NOW? Apple (& pretty much everybody) has been using MP3s for a while now. I haven't seen any changes to how Apple software/hardware deals w/ MP3s. It seems like the plaintiff is more after the money than anything else.

Ah... The double edged sword of patents... They encourage innovation, but they also encourage random sniping among tech companies in the hope of confusing a jury and winning big.

If there's something to the patent, Apple will settle. If it's bunk, they may fight it just to discourage more of this.

I totally agree!
 

texasmafia

macrumors member
Mar 19, 2005
83
0
Texas
I live in Marshall, Texas. It is crazy how many patent lawsuits come through our court. The judge has set up his court in such a way that these cases are zoomed through which saves everyone money so companies love to file here.
 

iMeowbot

macrumors G3
Aug 30, 2003
8,634
0
The patent in this suit, along with US patent 6,629,000, is for the Saehan/Eiger MPMan, which was the first of the MP3 players. Sigmatel bought them up about a year ago and proceeded to go after Far East competitors, particularly Chinese chipmaker Actions Semiconductor.

Sigmatel since sold or leased out off the rights, and that's where this Texas MP3 outfit comes in.
 

CTYankee

macrumors 6502
Jul 18, 2002
412
7
I saw one publication date of 2006 which seems to be to be very late. No way a 2006 patent will hold water in the mp3 world...far too much prior art. If it was back in the late 90s, then this patent might prove costly for Apple.

It really is a shame what is happening. Many of te companies suiing over patents these days are just a few people who buy patents. They then sue others and take the money for profit. The recent billion dollar Blackberry suit is one such case. The USPTO is really messed up and needs help. But no way they can do much to stem the tide when there are so many applications, many worthless, and years of backlog.
 

pimentoLoaf

Contributor
Dec 30, 2001
1,979
6
The SimCity Deli
Apparently, the lawsuit is based on a patent application, rather than any actual owned thing.

Worse, as the article describes, the firm claims to have "invented" the concept of all MP3 players, not just any particular design.

Maybe everyone should write their congress-folk about this sort of thing, and they in turn could investigate the Federal judge with the "zoom-through" philosophy.
 

synth3tik

macrumors 68040
Oct 11, 2006
3,951
2
Minneapolis, MN
I love that the 10Q lists my employer as one getting sue with Apple by Quantum. We will win that one.

With the MP3 suit, I know that the recent hit that Microsoft took will effect what the general populous thinks, but in or out of court I think both sides will make note that it is not the same issue.
 

iMeowbot

macrumors G3
Aug 30, 2003
8,634
0
Apparently, the lawsuit is based on a patent application, rather than any actual owned thing.
That's only the result of a Google search performed by the article's writer, and that application isn't what is being used here. Patent records typically don't reflect ownership changes after grant time. The patent being used in the suits is not an application, see the patent number 7,065,417 referenced at the top of the thread.

Worse, as the article describes, the firm claims to have "invented" the concept of all MP3 players, not just any particular design.
No, it doesn't. It claims to own a patent bought from the inventors of the MP3 player (and that's just what happened). The MPMan player was a real product that shipped first. The inventors sold their rights to Sigmatel, who in turn sold the patents to Texas MP3, so that someone else could worry about collecting.

Maybe everyone should write their congress-folk about this sort of thing, and they in turn could investigate the Federal judge with the "zoom-through" philosophy.
That would be a wonderful policy change for Apple. All their acquired technologies, including core features of their iPhone product, would fall into the public domain and wipe out their unfair competitive advantages once and for all.
 

SPUY767

macrumors 68020
Jun 22, 2003
2,029
113
GA
Bah. The patent system is broke. This guy is a little late to the game and is probably planning to ask for a unit royalty on every mp3 player ever sold. Problem that he has is explaining why he has failed to defend his patent before now, and unless he was in a coma for 7 years, that's going to be retty tough.
 

whooleytoo

macrumors 604
Aug 2, 2002
6,601
694
Cork, Ireland.
I'd have to agree - I think the patent system is broken too.

It can be used to protect innovation, but if implemented incorrectly it can also lead to patents being granted too readily and 'patent squatting'.
 

matticus008

macrumors 68040
Jan 16, 2005
3,330
1
Bay Area, CA
I'd have to agree - I think the patent system is broken too.

It can be used to protect innovation, but if implemented incorrectly it can also lead to patents being granted too readily and 'patent squatting'.
I'd have to disagree on causality. The existence or number of suits has little bearing on the function of a system of laws. It's an easy media attack and a common popular sentiment, but as someone who works with this sort of thing, it's in reality fairly unjustified.

There are millions of current patents. Yes, some of them are silly, some of them are unenforceable, and some of them are just plain invalid. What people fail to realize is that for as much humor and derision as people can make out of it, it wouldn't have come to court if there wasn't merit to it (and this one hasn't even been heard). The media doesn't care about that part, though. They also don't care about the outcome or process. The news reports on filings of suits, but then they disappear once everyone has had their fun. No one ever follows up to say "demurrer granted" or "judgment in favor of defendants." It's not newsworthy when these suits resolve naturally.

The patent system does grant strange patents. How would you (not you personally, necessarily, but people in general) propose minimizing these? You can take more time to review patents and confer with technical experts on the relevant matters, but that will increase processing time in an already backlogged system. You could expand the office, but that would cost money, and nobody wants to pay for it, least of all the people who like to complain about the system. You could reduce the frivolity of patent suits by sending them all directly to closed-door mediation beforehand, but then there would be complaints of back-room wheeling and dealing outside of the public eye.

Striking a balance of efficiency, thoroughness, and openness is quite difficult. We have lawsuits to iron out the "oops" moments. I'm not sure what's broken. You can't stop people from making frivolous claims and filing groundless suits. No matter what you do to the law, people will always be able to file suit for whatever they want and often just for publicity. After all, the media doesn't follow any but the biggest of the suits, so it's only the filing itself that makes a splash. $20,000 in legal fees for a month of a facade, and a million dollars worth of free media coverage. It does wonders for marketing and business.
 
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