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Apple and AT&T have settled a lawsuit brought by Klausner Technology Inc regarding patent ownership behind the iPhone's Visual Voicemail. According to the press release, both Apple and AT&T have agreed to license its "visual voicemail" technology. No financial details have been disclosed:
"The patent litigation with Apple has been settled. The patents have been licensed to Apple," company founder Judah Klausner told Reuters.
Klausner brought suit against Apple in December 2007.

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bacaramac

macrumors 65816
Dec 29, 2007
1,420
83
I am surprised that Apple and/or AT&T couldn't find a way around this mess be changing something small in the way they implement visual voicemail. Seems odd that Apple would not have known there was a patent for this feature. Hmm.
 
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Rocketman

macrumors 603
I am surprised that Apple and/or AT&T couldn't find a way around this mess be changing something small in the way they implement visual voicemail. Seems odd that Apple would not have known there was a patent for this feature. Hmm.

The nature of patents is such that essentially everything is patented with a wide swath claim, that could be fought in court unless the court finds that the specific is covered by the general. Claimants file in jurisdictions where that is always found.

It is a shake down. Get over it.

Have you ever wondered why Apple patent claims have so many (hundreds) of subclaims?

They patent EVERYTHING they can.

Plenty of people came before them. Apple innovates, deploys, and waits to be sued.

Hence why they have a cash hoard.

Rocketman
 
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mmccaskill

macrumors 6502
Jan 3, 2007
349
0
Exactly. Sometimes it is cheaper financially to settle than it is to fight it over & over again in court.
 
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Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
My initial reaction tends to be to assume that a small company is gold-digging and blackmailing a deep-pockets company by claiming prior art, so they settle to get rid of the pest. But I know that sometimes there are valid claims for what later seems obvious. Perhaps Klausner deserved its money for the idea to give you a visible signal when you have a voice message. I dunno. :shrug:
 
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Shasterball

macrumors 6502a
Oct 19, 2007
942
178
The nature of patents is such that essentially everything is patented with a wide swath claim, that could be fought in court unless the court finds that the specific is covered by the general. Claimants file in jurisdictions where that is always found.

It is a shake down. Get over it.

Have you ever wondered why Apple patent claims have so many (hundreds) of subclaims?

They patent EVERYTHING they can.

Plenty of people came before them. Apple innovates, deploys, and waits to be sued.

Hence why they have a cash hoard.

Rocketman

If you are enabled and show a written description for a technology, then you get a claim to it -- assuming it hasn't already been disclosed. It's relatively easy to describe what you want and show that it would reasonably work in the engineering fields....
 
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BrianMojo

macrumors regular
Jul 10, 2006
185
0
Boston, MA
My initial reaction tends to be to assume that a small company is gold-digging and blackmailing a deep-pockets company by claiming prior art, so they settle to get rid of the pest. But I know that sometimes there are valid claims for what later seems obvious. Perhaps Klausner deserved its money for the idea to give you a visible signal when you have a voice message. I dunno. :shrug:

I felt like the latter half of your message in this case. I mean, it's a good idea and the likelihood that Apple were the first to come up with it isn't great, so that they have to pay their dues to the company that came up with it first seems about right to me.
 
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ltcol266845

macrumors regular
Aug 25, 2006
217
0
Elgin, IL
Interesting that Apple owns the patent now. And here I thought it would become the new standard for voicemails in the future, seems like Apple is going to keep it to themselves.. If so, I don't like this at all...
 
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BenRoethig

macrumors 68030
Jul 17, 2002
2,729
0
Dubuque, Iowa
They don't own the patent. They bought a license to be able to use the technology. Klausner is free to license it to anyone else.
 
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kdarling

macrumors P6
They don't own the patent. They bought a license to be able to use the technology. Klausner is free to license it to anyone else.

He already did so a couple of months ago, to Sprint for their new Instinct. Link here

So his claim was being backed up by having a large carrier take a license.

Whether right or wrong, ATT and Apple's defense looked weak after that.
 
Comment

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
11,688
16,197
Central U.S.
I don't think people should be able to patent software. It puts too many restrictions on things, especially when one company has a monopoly on a patent, which obviously isn't the case here since they are licensing it. But all software is doing is giving a machine instructions. Copyright maybe, since its words and code, but not a patent.
 
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w0ngbr4d

macrumors regular
Jan 10, 2006
217
1
Findlay, OH
After doing a quick search for Klausner Technology Inc on Google, expecting their website to be the first hit, all I see are articles about them suing everyone for patent infringement. Seem like a good business model, but I think the system needs some reform to stop this kind of behavior. Trademarks expire if you don't use them, why not patents?

On the flip side, you could also argue that they are in the intellectual property business and this is what they do, sue people who use their ideas. But if you weren't planning on implementing your ideas, how do you prove damages?

Either way, this case will make an excellent addition to my law class final.
 
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brinycbri

macrumors 6502a
Mar 13, 2007
514
0
I dont get it, apple has to settle, but other people like microsoft and phone manufacturers can copy apple's iphone when, presumably, the iphone holds many patents? am i missing something?
 
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rjohnstone

macrumors 68040
Dec 28, 2007
3,747
4,108
PHX, AZ.
I dont get it, apple has to settle, but other people like microsoft and phone manufacturers can copy apple's iphone when, presumably, the iphone holds many patents? am i missing something?
Apple had no claim, so they had no choice but to settle.
As for the phone, the "look" of a phone cannot be patented. The components inside can be.
And Apple wasn't the first company to come up with a PDA/Smartphone. It's just another cell phone.
 
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Siron

macrumors 6502
Feb 4, 2008
470
0
North Carolina
It's interesting that a company can patent an idea that simple - but there again Cingular patented Rollover minutes. I mean how simple is that. Seems like as soon as there was a concept of charging by the minute each month someone would have immediately thought of the rollover concept - but seems Cingular did first.
 
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rjohnstone

macrumors 68040
Dec 28, 2007
3,747
4,108
PHX, AZ.
Some are claiming others are copying from Apple when in reality it's the reverse.

Patents do expire. 20 years and then it's fair game. If a patent references another patent, than the patent is only valid for 20 years from the date of the earliest referenced patent. So if your new patent application references a patent from 1988, it's already fair game for another manufacturer to reproduce.
Also, any design or invention that is marked as "Patent Pending" is fair game as well.
The protection afforded by a patent does not start until the actual grant of the patent.

And yes, you CAN patent an idea.
You don't have to actually build anything. Just put it on paper and it can be patented (if it meets eligibility requirements of course).
 
Comment

snarton

macrumors newbie
Oct 16, 2006
24
10
When I heard that the iPhone had "visual voicemail" last year I thought it was going to be like PhoneTag's service that provides a transcription of the whole message. I was kind of disappointed that the iPhone shows only who left the message.
 
Comment

nniicckk

macrumors newbie
May 21, 2008
29
0
This patent crap is that, crap. And trust the telco guys to reinvent everything from the internet world in their attempt to catch up. Truly, idiots of the first order!

To implement visual voicemail, all you need is (a) a mechanism to inform a phone of a new message (b) an application on the phone that talks to a well known server and retrieves the message.

For (a), you can use SMS or any proprietary messaging. For (b), you can use a proprietary app and server. But, heck, you could even use imap so the phone's voice mailbox is syncronized with the server's with the messages passed as mime attachments. Just add a candy wrapper so it doesn't look like you are dealing with email. And imap would give you much more, such as the ability to forward messages from one voice mail box to other voice mail boxes or even, god forbid, email!

Its possible to set this up in under a week. All you need is a linux/bsd box with a telephony card, some code to digitize the audio and store it (asterix + sql will do), and an open source imap server. You can hack another open source email client written in java, python or whatever to be the phone client.

Notice, I said phone, not iphone.
 
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gwerhart0800

macrumors 6502
Mar 15, 2008
452
23
Loveland, CO
After doing a quick search for Klausner Technology Inc on Google, expecting their website to be the first hit, all I see are articles about them suing everyone for patent infringement. Seem like a good business model, but I think the system needs some reform to stop this kind of behavior. Trademarks expire if you don't use them, why not patents?

On the flip side, you could also argue that they are in the intellectual property business and this is what they do, sue people who use their ideas. But if you weren't planning on implementing your ideas, how do you prove damages?

Either way, this case will make an excellent addition to my law class final.

Search on "Patent Troll", you will find that there are many companies that buy up patents for the sole purpose of litigation. They do not make any of the inventions detailed in their patents, but seek ways to extort money from those that might be infringing on them. In some cases, they don't sue the manufacturer of the goods that might infringe, but the users of the possibly infringing item. In other cases, a company might patent a basic technology, but fail to patent the ways of using it. Someone else comes along and patents the "uses" and can effectively block the original patent holder from using their invention for much of anything.

Part of the attempts at patent reform have been directed at looking for ways to mitigate the trolling business. For the inventions that I seek patents for, I now have to work out all of the possible "uses cases" and include something in the descriptive text to ensure that no add-on patents will limit our ability to use our own technology.
 
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