Apple, Sony sued over data vending patent infringement

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014


An inventor is suing Apple and Sony claiming that the two companies' respective online media distribution systems infringe on a data vending patent issued in 2004.



Two separate lawsuits filed in California on Tuesday allege that Apple's iTunes and Sony's Playstation Network both use so-called data vending technology, or a broad system that lets users store and manage digital content like music, video and software on electronic devices.



Intellectual property attorneys from The Lanier Law Firm are representing inventor Benjamin Grobler who was issued U.S. Patent No. 6,799,084 describing a system in which digital data is distributed to an electronic devices called a "data depot" for storage and management. The IP also calls for a remote database that maintains ownership and user records.



"Tech giants can't just take an inventor's work and use it as their own," said attorney Chistopher Banys, head of the nationwide property practice at Lanier. "This lawsuit represents our client's effort to bring some accountability to the system."



From the invention's summary:

Quote:

a data depot for storing one or more data type selected from the group comprising digitised or analogue music, video, games, information, and computer programs;



a data dispensing device in communication with the data depot;



a uniquely identifiable recordable data carrier configured for recording data from the data dispensing device; and



a database for keeping a record of the data recorded by a user onto said data carrier, at least a part of which database is stored remotely from said data carrier.



Grobler contends that the patent was sought to reconcile copyright royalty losses due to the unauthorized use of data, usually in the form of ripped CDs or other copied media. The IP does not cover sales of media, stating: "This system, however, does not address the end user's ownership of digitised data nor the license held by the end user of the digitised data as the system is supplier orientated and not end user orientated. There is thus little incentive for a user to accept the system as a sole unified information sales system."





Illustration of the '084 patent outlining a data depot and distribution system. | Source: USPTO







The '084 patent was filed for in January 2001, three weeks after Apple first launched iTunes and ten months before the introduction of the iPod. Since its debut, the Cupertino, Calif., company's all-encompassing system has become near ubiquitous and its name is synonymous with online media distribution.



As for Grobler's claims against Sony, the filing's issuance pre-dates the launch of Sony's Playstation Network by over two years.



Grobler is not mentioned as the inventor in any outstanding patent filings, nor is he the holder of any other issued U.S. patents.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

Comments

  • Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post




    "Tech giants can't just take an inventor's work and use it as their own," said attorney Chistopher Banys, head of the nationwide property practice at Lanier. "This lawsuit represents our client's effort to bring some accountability to the system."




    It is good to see some justice finally being done.
  • pixelstuffpixelstuff Posts: 26member
    I wonder if Grobler has licensed his invention to anyone else or tried to sell the technology as a product to anyone wanting to build a "data depot"? From the limited information in this article it looks more like Grobler invented wording that would trick the patent office, rather than a real non-obvious concept.
  • dunksdunks Posts: 1,168member
    That patent application is literally just a flow chart.
  • mrstepmrstep Posts: 446member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post


    It is good to see some justice finally being done.



    No doubt, the idea of a cache is brilliant! I mean, brilliant because they attached the words 'data depot' and 'multimedia', not because it's new.



    Justice would be patent system reform, though since Apple is playing by the current rules and not pushing for meaningful reform either, I guess you can call it justice? I'd just call it crap for anyone who isn't a huge company.
  • hittrj01hittrj01 Posts: 751member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mrstep View Post


    No doubt, the idea of a cache is brilliant! I mean, brilliant because they attached the words 'data depot' and 'multimedia', not because it's new.



    Justice would be patent system reform, though since Apple is playing by the current rules and not pushing for meaningful reform either, I guess you can call it justice? I'd just call it crap for anyone who isn't a huge company.



    In order to accomplish reform, you have to get in bed with the people who's influence matters, but that kind of defeats the purpose of the reform, doesn't it? Besides, Apple's never been known to be one to jump in bed with government types, so it isn't surprising that they aren't pushing as hard as they probably should be.
  • christophbchristophb Posts: 1,370member
    Does he have one of these for digital or analog(ue) video with audio in the same package? Clearly Apple is screwed. Sony too.
  • enjournienjourni Posts: 254member
    Honestly I think it's a load of crap suing someone for abuse of IP a whole 8 years after the fact. Even if the IP is valid, this guy is obviously coming out of the woodwork now because Apple/Sony are successful, not because he is trying to protect anything.



    IMHO if you don't sue within the first 2-3 years of someone ripping off your IP, then you deserve to lose it.
  • tundrabuggytundrabuggy Posts: 131member
    I'm tired of these "Napkin Scribblers" trying to suck money out of successful companies....this guy did nothing...the best he should get is Apple's attorneys fees for wasting my tax dollars in a courtroom. Is there any kind of countersuit for Apple to protect themselves from these idiots?
  • hmmhmm Posts: 3,367member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by enjourni View Post


    Honestly I think it's a load of crap suing someone for abuse of IP a whole 8 years after the fact. Even if the IP is valid, this guy is obviously coming out of the woodwork now because Apple/Sony are successful, not because he is trying to protect anything.



    IMHO if you don't sue within the first 2-3 years of someone ripping off your IP, then you deserve to lose it.



    I'm not sure of a statute of limitations on such a thing. If there is one, that is what they'd have to go by. Arbitrary periods of time are pretty meaningless, especially when you don't know if negotiations preceded this filing. Apple and Sony have been successful for years. Both had money 8 years ago. There was no need to wait out anything for such a reason. As always, you don't really have enough information from the article alone to make such an assessment.
  • mrstepmrstep Posts: 446member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tundraBuggy View Post


    I'm tired of these "Napkin Scribblers" trying to suck money out of successful companies....this guy did nothing...the best he should get is Apple's attorneys fees for wasting my tax dollars in a courtroom. Is there any kind of countersuit for Apple to protect themselves from these idiots?



    The problem with the napkin scribbling is that big companies are abusing the same system. Swipe to unlock? Really? And the fact that locks or other items (one-click shopping = any place that ever kept your information on file for billing, for example) like that exist in the real world isn't prior art?



    It's this "name something people already do - but add 'computer'" - crap that's gift that just keeps on giving.



    (There are legitimate patents that take actual research, but there seem to be way too many that are obvious to anyone in the industry but somehow not to patent examiners. :/ Not to mention that the lifespan is way too long for software patents.)
  • mdfetofmdfetof Posts: 12member
    The problem is the patent office issues patents for ideas that are manifestly not innovative. I mean "store files centrally and keep a database of who owns them and should get paid for them?" That''s accounting 101!!
  • bsgincbsginc Posts: 78member
    Grobler has one problem. Just one. Prior art. It's so obvious that I'm surprised mo one has noted it yet. There is prior art. He claims Apple (and Sony) are making money off of his work yet there is very likely to be prior existing art. Apple's iTunes was released 3 weeks before he filed for his patent. And, even though there was no iPod at the time iTunes did allow for purchase and storage of music on electronic devices called computers.
  • Quote:
    Originally Posted by enjourni View Post


    Honestly I think it's a load of crap suing someone for abuse of IP a whole 8 years after the fact. Even if the IP is valid, this guy is obviously coming out of the woodwork now because Apple/Sony are successful, not because he is trying to protect anything.



    IMHO if you don't sue within the first 2-3 years of someone ripping off your IP, then you deserve to lose it.



    There are a multitude of reasons why the suit could be happening now. Possibilities include the recent breakdown of negotiations. Or maybe recent access to funding sufficient for a fight with two huge, nasty megacorporations? Maybe a family member was terminally ill and has since passed? A religious epiphany?



    Your reason why the guy is doing it now makes little sense, and is based upon nothing. There are a multitude of possible reasons.
  • jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,019member
    Somebody needs add DEC to that lawsuit and send it back in time....



    A central digital device storing information for distribution? Give me a break.
  • charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,081member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by enjourni View Post


    Honestly I think it's a load of crap suing someone for abuse of IP a whole 8 years after the fact. .



    Agreed. I feel like the fact that the 'owner' didn't bother to do anything after years of violations should factor into whether they get any damages out of it. So like the courts might say it should have been licensed and now Apple etc have to but he can't have any back pay cause he ignored it for so long



    that said, I suspect he'll lose on the grounds that there doesn't seem to be any real tech in his patent and Apple etc can say they created a new item out of his IP but actually creating tech to run this concept. And/or Apple will dig up internal prior art that shows they were doing some kind of online purchasing of anything before he filed his patent and claim they just went the logical step in applying that realm to music etc.
  • charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,081member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bsginc View Post


    Apple's iTunes was released 3 weeks before he filed for his patent. And, even though there was no iPod at the time iTunes did allow for purchase and storage of music on electronic devices called computers.



    That was just the iTunes app as bought from SoundJam. They didn't start selling music online for 2 more years.



    That said, sure they might have been working on it back in 2001 and filed patents for that goal way back then.
  • nairbnairb Posts: 253member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mrstep View Post


    The problem with the napkin scribbling is that big companies are abusing the same system. Swipe to unlock? Really? And the fact that locks or other items (one-click shopping = any place that ever kept your information on file for billing, for example) like that exist in the real world isn't prior art?



    It's this "name something people already do - but add 'computer'" - crap that's gift that just keeps on giving.



    (There are legitimate patents that take actual research, but there seem to be way too many that are obvious to anyone in the industry but somehow not to patent examiners. :/ Not to mention that the lifespan is way too long for software patents.)



    Or in Apples case, it is often



    "name something people already do or that is published in trade journals - but change 'computer' to 'mobile device' " - crap that's gift that just keeps on giving.
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  • goodgriefgoodgrief Posts: 137member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post


    It is good to see some justice finally being done.



    Yeah, there's "justice" in trying to use a bogus patent to milk someone else for cash - based on <their> work, not yours. There's "justice" in trying to make money on the sweat of someone elses brow ... right.



    Why "bogus" you ask? Because the patent claims "invention" of a methodology that existed and was already in public use by business(es) several years before the patent was even <applied> for.



    Prior Art = Patent Fail



    Bad troll is bad.
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