Apple sued for iTunes interface

fjdouse

UNIX - Live Free or Die
The image at the bottom is disturbingly similar, but.. I doubt anything will happen.
 

ElDiabloConCaca

U.S.D.A. Prime
Yep -- I believe there's a law stating that if you don't defend a copyright/trademark/patent within a reasonable amount of time of becoming aware of someone infringing on it, you've basically given them permission to do what they please with it. Can someone confirm?

Since iTunes has been around, oh, at least 3 years now, I think their lawsuit is moot. They should have either a) done something with their patent or b) sued Apple a long time ago.
 

xarcom

Registered
If you read the patent, its quite obvious that iTunes is in violation of this patent.. The question is, how can something like that be patentable ? The patent is about having an interface where a user can chose from different categories, artists, album,etc to narrow the choice of song.

In Canada you can only patent physical inventions or processes, not algorithms or software... I mean this is exactly why software patents don't work... this guy's not even using his patent and yet wants to prevent someone else to make use of this basic organizational tool... Its unfortunate that the US patent office is so lax in awarding patents to trivial "inventions".. this will surely cause some problems for Apple.
 

xarcom

Registered
ElDiabloConCaca said:
Since iTunes has been around, oh, at least 3 years now, I think their lawsuit is moot. They should have either a) done something with their patent or b) sued Apple a long time ago.
I don't think so, The whole point of patenting something is that you have exclusive rights to your invention for a defined period of time (depending on your country's laws..). Its not your responsability to make sure that no one infringes on your patent... its the responsability of others to make sure they don't infringe on your patent... If not a person that would file a patent would be continuously doing research to make sure no one is infringing on them...

The bad thing here is that according to the plaintiff, Apple has been informed a few times about the infringement and yet did nothing.
 

fryke

Moderator
Staff member
Mod
Apple's quite strict about _its_ patents, they _definitely_ should respect others' patents, then. I guess they'll have to pay them something.
 

brianleahy

Colonel Panic
xarcom said:
Its not your responsability to make sure that no one infringes on your patent...
Actually, that is not entirely true. Patent infringement gives you grounds for a civil lawsuit; it's not a criminal offense.

If you don't sue people who infringe your patents, no law enforcement body will take any action. To enforce your patent, you must file a suit and pay all costs associated with pursuing it.

Furthermore, if you FAIL to sue infringers, there are two bad side effects: (1) you get a reputation as a wishy-washy patent enforcer, which will encourage others to infringe without fear (2) you may lose your right to sue in the future. (I'm less sure about this -- it definitely applies to copyrights though.)

For instance, if I patent a widget, and then I find out that Acme Inc. is infringing my patent - and I don't sue them....

Then later Mega Inc. infringes my patent, and I do sue them....

If A1 can prove that I knew about Acme, and made no effort to stop them, they may be able argue successfully that I have abrogated my patent rights.

Again, I know this last idea applies to copyrights - not as sure about patents.
 

xarcom

Registered
brianleahy said:
Actually, that is not entirely true. Patent infringement gives you grounds for a civil lawsuit; it's not a criminal offense.

If you don't sue people who infringe your patents, no law enforcement body will take any action. To enforce your patent, you must file a suit and pay all costs associated with pursuing it.
I wasn't infering that it was a crimal offense, I am simply stating that if your a developper and you release a product, its your responsability to make sure it doesn't infringe on any patents if not you could get sued.

brianleahy said:
Furthermore, if you FAIL to sue infringers, there are two bad side effects: (1) you get a reputation as a wishy-washy patent enforcer, which will encourage others to infringe without fear (2) you may lose your right to sue in the future. (I'm less sure about this -- it definitely applies to copyrights though.)
This is the part that I don't agree with ( your #2 ). Regardless of (1), you still own the rights to your invention and also the right to sue for compensation or whatever.. The only way that #2 could happen (in Canada at least..) is if some prior art pops up that can prove that you were not the first person to think about your invention.

As I said, I'm not familiar with the US Patent & Copyright Laws but I'm quite sure thats how it work in Canada. Besides, the first step in any patent infringement is usually informing the offending company. According to the reports the plaintiff has apparently done that a number of times... thus why he is seeking legal action.

I think the larger issue here is that things like that shouldn't be patentable... sometimes I wonder if someone will patent the while loop !
 

Gnomo

Registered
xarcom said:
I think the larger issue here is that things like that shouldn't be patentable... sometimes I wonder if someone will patent the while loop !
I agree, this type of thing shouldn't be able to be patented.

brianleahy said:
For instance, if I patent a widget, and then I find out that Acme Inc. is infringing my patent - and I don't sue them....

Then later Mega Inc. infringes my patent, and I do sue them....

If A1 can prove that I knew about Acme, and made no effort to stop them, they may be able argue successfully that I have abrogated my patent rights.
If what you're saying is correct, I think Apple shouldn't have any problems getting out of this lawsuit. All they have to do is point to these applications: Windows Media Player, Creative PlayCenter, Winamp, etc, etc.

Everyone just wants a piece of the Apple.
 

Krevinek

Evil PPC Tweaker
Actually, if the patent is read, Apple is on the border-line of infringement. The crux of the matter comes down to three things:

1) The patent talks about a computer-controlled device for playback, and explicitly states that the patent is the combination of ALL claims, and acknowledges prior art to various components.
2) Can the iPod can be considered a computer-controlled device for playback? (Unlikely)
3) Can Airport Express be considered a computer-controlled device for playback? (One could /probably/ argue either way)

I think the suit itself will wind up looking at #3 as the key to if Apple is infringing or not. That or the jury (the plantiff is requesting one) being average enough to think the iPod is a computer-controlled device. This one is a tough call.

Personally, I dislike software patents... mostly because software gets double-protection because of it. Specific algorithms are borderline for me, I can see something like RSA being patented, but not a simple sorting algorithm, and definitely not an improved simple sorting algorithm. But since I can't find a good place to draw the line, I would say that for the safety of the population, patenting algorithms is too much of a loophole as well.
 

DrM3M0RY

Registered
Yeah, this is a very sticky issue-- the Vermont company created a design that is very basic, and, therefore, effectively has the right to do whatever it wants to whosoever infringes on their patent. If you look closely, Winamp and Windows Media Player have interfaces different enough from iTunes and the other company's; eg, the layout.
As far as Patent rights, the rights to a patent last 20 years and can be extended. As far as filing a complaint against an infringement, you have six years to speak up:
Except as otherwise provided by law, no recovery shall be had for any infringement committed more than six years prior to the filing of the complaint or counterclaim for infringement in the action.
-- Title 35 US Code 286
By this, Apple could be mighty screwed, except iTunes is so widely used I believe it would be impossible to stop its distribution as the prosecuting company demands.
 

fjdouse

UNIX - Live Free or Die
If held such a patent, I'd leave it as long as I could so Apple could make heaps off it and then settle for a nice cash payout. I'm not saying that's what their plan was... but...
 

mindbend

Registered
It is a current trend in the tech world to sue at whim over questionable patents. I find the practice highly disturbing and can only hope it gets rectified.

I remember finding a site that claimed to be a software developer, when in fact the only content on their site was a list of patent lawsuits they were entangled in. It was their entire corporate strategy to "patent" a variety of things and then sue over the slightest infringement. Totally bogus, yet more and more a reality.

Companies have clearly found loopholes in the patent system and are exploiting them for profit. I can guarantee you this company doesn't actually think Apple willfully stole their interface and threw them under the bus. They saw an opportunity and they're going for it. I disagree with this philosophy.
 

Krevinek

Evil PPC Tweaker
fjdouse said:
If held such a patent, I'd leave it as long as I could so Apple could make heaps off it and then settle for a nice cash payout. I'm not saying that's what their plan was... but...
Actually, if a defendant can prove that is the case, than the plantiff loses their rights to collect in most cases.
 
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