Apple sued by patent holding company over 'multimedia voicemail'

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014


So-called patent troll Brandywine Communications Technologies filed a complaint on Tuesday against Apple's iPhone and iPad, claiming that the devices infringe on certain 'multimedia voicemail' patents.



It was reported on Wednesday that the holding company is suing Apple in a Florida district court , and , which both outline a system for simultaneous voice and data voicemails, according to GigaOM.



Being leveraged is intellectual property originally issued to former modem maker Paradyne in 1998, and a continuation of application in 2001, which describes a system that allows users to access stored voice and data messages at the same time.



From continuation patent No. 6,236,717, granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2001:

Quote:

A simultaneous voice and data modem coordinates the storage of voice messages and data messages on an audio answering machine and a personal computer, respectively. This allows the called party to subsequently retrieve, via the simultaneous voice and data modem, both a voice message and an associated data message, i.e., a multimedia message, where the called party listens to the voice message while viewing the data message. The called party can retrieve the multimedia message either locally or from a remote location.



Florida-based Paradyne Corporation was bought out by broadband solution company Zhone in 2006, though it is unclear how Brandywine got hold of the firm's answering machine property.



Exactly how Brandywine intends to assert the patent against the iPhone and iPad is also unknown, however it will most likely involve Apple's Visual Voicemail feature that was introduced with the Cupertino, Calif., company's first handset in 2007. The iPad doesn't currently support visual voicemail, and it is possible that the suit may be aimed at other iOS features as well.











Wednesday's news marks the second time Apple has been sued over the now-ubiquitous feature, as a Texas suit in 2007 claimed that the service, which allows users to select individual messages through an on-screen interface, was previously patented.



In that case, Klausner Technologies successfully defended the IP rights as it had done with other telecom giants that used the system including AOL Time Warner and Vonage, and forced Apple to settle out of court. The sum of the settlement was not made public, though it was reported that both Apple and then sole iPhone provider AT&T licensed the technology.



Interestingly, Apple itself was issued a similar patent in 2011, though the scope of that IP was limited to how the service's user interface handles message playback.



Brandywine itself was recently slapped with a lawsuit from Verizon over wireless spectrum technology, with the nation's number one carrier describing the Delaware company as "a patent holding company that is in the business of enforcing patent rights through the filing of various lawsuits."



No official announcement has been made by either Apple or Brandywine regarding case specifics.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

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Comments

  • realitycheck69realitycheck69 Posts: 83member
    Karma
  • jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    I really wish people would stop with the 'patent troll' crap.



    If someone owns a patent, they have a right to enforce it - whether they are in a business which uses that patent or not.



    It's absurd to pretend that only people who are actually manufacturing products which use a technology should have the ability to enforce their patents.
  • gatorguygatorguy Posts: 14,131member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    I really wish people would stop with the 'patent troll' crap.



    If someone owns a patent, they have a right to enforce it - whether they are in a business which uses that patent or not.



    It's absurd to pretend that only people who are actually manufacturing products which use a technology should have the ability to enforce their patents.



    And you've been admirably consistent on that view. Kudos.
  • SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 23,594member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    I really wish people would stop with the 'patent troll' crap.



    If someone owns a patent, they have a right to enforce it - whether they are in a business which uses that patent or not.



    It's absurd to pretend that only people who are actually manufacturing products which use a technology should have the ability to enforce their patents.



    Indeed. It's too easy to label a patent owner a "troll". That's why people do it. No thinking involved.
  • pendergastpendergast Posts: 1,358member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    I really wish people would stop with the 'patent troll' crap.



    If someone owns a patent, they have a right to enforce it - whether they are in a business which uses that patent or not.



    It's absurd to pretend that only people who are actually manufacturing products which use a technology should have the ability to enforce their patents.



    I reserve the term "troll" for companies or holding companies who "camp out" waiting for someone to cross their "bridge" as it were; instead of asserting their patent immediately, they wait for the company to have success, and then ask for a toll. Their sole reason for existence is to profit on the efforts of other people, themselves making no effort to ever use the patented technology.



    The term, however, is abused and applied to anyone being aggressive with patents, which does not make sense. The correct term, if you feel a company is wrong in their use of a patent (i.e MotoMo), would be something like "patent abuse".
  • SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 23,594member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post


    I reserve the term "troll" for companies or holding companies who "camp out" waiting for someone to cross their "bridge" as it were; instead of asserting their patent immediately, they wait for the company to have success, and then ask for a toll. Their sole reason for existence is to profit on the efforts of other people, themselves making no effort to ever use the patented technology.



    The term, however, is abused and applied to anyone being aggressive with patents, which does not make sense. The correct term, if you feel a company is wrong in their use of a patent (i.e MotoMo), would be something like "patent abuse".



    The only time one enforces one's patent rights is when it is discovered they are being infringed. Minus some company achieving success (unwittingly or otherwise) on the back of another's patent, infringement would never be discovered and thus, would never be enforced.
  • jmgregory1jmgregory1 Posts: 364member
    Quite frankly, I would say that this is a case of patent trolling. Just read the patent. They're connecting voice and data. VVM isn't storing a data message, unless I'm missing something altogether with the iPhone.



    If they are arguing that a person's name showing up on-screen is data (like a multi-media presentation as they note) that is crap. If the argument is that the voice message is actually data, then I'd say that they're over-stretching the bounds of their patent. It doesn't say voice as data and data.



    I wonder how Apple will address FaceTime messages - which is the next natural step in voicemail. It's still not a multi-media presentation, but it is a stored clip from a live video feed.
  • aaarrrggghaaarrrgggh Posts: 1,511member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    Indeed. It's too easy to label a patent owner a "troll". That's why people do it. No thinking involved.



    Patent trolls are companies that abuse the patent process, primarily through the use of submarine patents or in enforcement of trivial "inventions."



    The concern, at least in my circle, is that software patents are absurd. Things like "1-click shopping" or "do something that has been done forever on the internet" never should have been patentable. Things like a user interface should be copyrightable, and trademarkable... but are in no way patent-worthy.



    Now, selling a patent once to a Non-Practicing Entity that is novel, and said NPE begins to market it provides a service. If a NPE just has lawyers on staff though, you can be pretty sure they are a troll.



    Long-term, this will help no one. Short-term, it might be good for Apple, but I would much rather have a world where ideas are more free, and you cannot monopolize an idea.
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 39,469member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by realitycheck69 View Post


    Karma



    So explain why they didn't sue in January 2007 when Apple showed this. Or in July 2007 when the people holding the patent could play around with the iPhone and see how similar Visual Voicemail is to their patent.



    You need a reality check.
  • gatorguygatorguy Posts: 14,131member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    So explain why they didn't sue in January 2007 when Apple showed this. Or in July 2007 when the people holding the patent could play around with the iPhone and see how similar Visual Voicemail is to their patent.



    You need a reality check.



    Because it wasn't smart business? Better to wait and see just how successful the products were, potentially giving Brandywine a much bigger bargaining chip.
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 39,469member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    Because it wasn't smart business? Better to wait and see just how successful the products were, potentially giving Brandywine a much bigger bargaining chip.



    Deemed 'cashing in', and that's why people are so quick to throw around the 'patent troll' remark.



    If protecting it actually meant anything to you, you'd protect it as soon as you thought it was infringed.
  • addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,667member
    I think it's pretty reasonable to make a distinction between a company which owns a patent (however acquired) that it makes use of and a patent holding company that has no intention of implementing said patent outside of litigation.



    Yes, both have ownership and have a right to bring suit if their patent is infringed, but the former may sue for infringement because infringement materially affects competitive advantage in a given market whereas the latter sues simply because it can.



    Is "patent troll" really so off the mark?
  • gatorguygatorguy Posts: 14,131member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Deemed 'cashing in', and that's why people are so quick to throw around the 'patent troll' remark.



    If protecting it actually meant anything to you, you'd protect it as soon as you thought it was infringed.



    I suppose it's how you plan to monetize your intellectual property. If you're building a product for profit, that's what your IP is protecting. Instead you might be selling the patent protection itself, in which case intelligent businessmen would time the use for the maximum profit. I don't see that by itself as warranting a "patent troll" tag. Now if the idea is to make the entry into a market segment prohibitively expensive or impossible by waving the threat of IP rights at the other players, that's kinda trollish behavior IMO.



    For some Motorola or Microsoft might come to mind. Others might see it as applicable to Apple's patent fights.
  • lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    Because it wasn't smart business? Better to wait and see just how successful the products were, potentially giving Brandywine a much bigger bargaining chip.



    perhaps not to see how successful it will become - but to give it enough time to become so entrenched that those using the allegedly infringing product would find it less costly/difficult to cough up some cash than to abandon or redesign the product.
  • jlanddjlandd Posts: 804member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    If protecting it actually meant anything to you, you'd protect it as soon as you thought it was infringed.



    Actually no, that's not how it usually works. File as soon as the "infringement" exists and you often can't prove 80% of what you might be legit suing for, which includes many things beyond the actual concept. It's a standard and legit practice in "legit" infringement cases to allow the defendant to go beyond being able to yank the plug and throw it back in the closet. When you have a legit case against a giant who you know you can't win against, it's considered a leveraging move. You may never win such an infringement case, even if you are completely justified, against Apple or Microsoft, so the sights are not on ownership of the disputed concept. And once you enter the realm of settlements, you need to justify damages, even for the non "trolls".
  • Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Deemed 'cashing in', and that's why people are so quick to throw around the 'patent troll' remark.



    If protecting it actually meant anything to you, you'd protect it as soon as you thought it was infringed.



    This is business. Despite a celebrity CEO's implications to the contrary, the only thing that "means anything" is economic value.



    The timing is no indication of anything emotional, like "the patent is not dear to my heart".
  • gatorguygatorguy Posts: 14,131member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    I think it's pretty reasonable to make a distinction between a company which owns a patent (however acquired) that it makes use of and a patent holding company that has no intention of implementing said patent outside of litigation.



    Yes, both have ownership and have a right to bring suit if their patent is infringed, but the former may sue for infringement because infringement materially affects competitive advantage in a given market whereas the latter sues simply because it can.



    Is "patent troll" really so off the mark?



    Apple has asserted patents against Android licensees it doesn't practice itself. Does that meet your definition of "having no intention of implementing said patent outside of litigation"?



    I don't think it's as simple as your idea.
  • hirohiro Posts: 2,663member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    Apple has asserted patents against Android licensees it doesn't practice itself. Does that meet your definition of "having no intention of implementing said patent outside of litigation"?



    I don't think it's as simple as your idea.



    I think you need to get specific on that.
  • tundrabuggytundrabuggy Posts: 131member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    I really wish people would stop with the 'patent troll' crap.



    If someone owns a patent, they have a right to enforce it - whether they are in a business which uses that patent or not.



    It's absurd to pretend that only people who are actually manufacturing products which use a technology should have the ability to enforce their patents.



    Read the case, this is absolutely a PATENT TROLL....I happen to love the term....these PATENT TROLL's do nothing but hinder progress for people who develop products.....any clown in a bar can scribble an idea on a napkin and patent it these days. I love to see the trolls drained of their remaining funds in a courtroom and I hope its a lesson to all other "would be" PATENT TROLLs.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    Apple has asserted patents against Android licensees it doesn't practice itself. Does that meet your definition of "having no intention of implementing said patent outside of litigation"?



    I don't think it's as simple as your idea.



    Which patents are those?
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