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Apple drops appeal of $21.7 million OPTi patent suit

post #1 of 28
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One day prior to its scheduled hearing, Apple has dropped its appeal of a $21.7 million patent infringement case won against it by OPTi Inc last year.

OPTi originally sued Apple for $19 million over broadly worded patents related to "predictive snooping" of memory caches that speed the flow of data between a system's memory and processor.

OPTi dropped its manufacturing business to become a full time patent-suing operation in 2003. It has also filed a similar suit against chip maker AMD. Apple attempted to defend itself by claiming that the patents were invalid both through prior art and through the obviousness of the techniques involved.

However, the suit was brought by OPTi to the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division court, which is notorious for catering to patent trolls. Judge Charles Everingham rejected both of Apple's arguments in his verdict, letting the patent stand.

Emboldened by its win last winter, OPTI said it intended to "realize licensing revenue" from other companies. It also sought and won an additional $2.7 million in interest fees on its original patent case against Apple, bringing OPTi's haul to $21.7 million.

Apple appealed the decision last December, but after spending a year on its appeal, has settled with OPTi and filed a joint motion to dismiss the appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, which approved the agreement, accord to a report by Bloomberg.

The terms of the agreement leading to the dismissal of the appeal were not made public, and neither Apple nor OPTi responded to requests for comment from Bloomberg. In April, AMD agreed to pay OPTi $32 million to settle its parallel infringement suit.

Last October, Apple noted in its 10K filing that it was defending itself from more than 47 patent infringement cases, 27 of which were filed during the fiscal year. The company said that responding to claims, regardless of merit, consumes "significant time and expense."

A recent report noted that according to LegalMetric, Apple has been the most-sued technology company since 2008, the year after its original iPhone hit the market.
post #2 of 28
Apple has bigger fish to fry anyway.
post #3 of 28
And so the patent trolls were fed.
post #4 of 28
Just out of curiosity, does anyone happen to know why the famous East Texas court is so amenable to patent trolls?

Is it a particular judge? Do they crave the notoriety? Ambient local ideology? Kickbacks? It just seems a bizarre that a particular district court could have such a well known reputation for predetermined outcomes and it wouldn't draw some kind of judicial review.
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post #5 of 28
*makes note*

1: Open Swiss bank account

2: Move to Texas, apply for jury duty

3: Call Cupertino

4: PROFIT!!!
post #6 of 28
Do patents ever expire? Why doesn't the federal goverment do anything about Texas and allowing these lawsuits??
post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Just out of curiosity, does anyone happen to know why the famous East Texas court is so amenable to patent trolls?

Is it a particular judge? Do they crave the notoriety? Ambient local ideology? Kickbacks? It just seems a bizarre that a particular district court could have such a well known reputation for predetermined outcomes and it wouldn't draw some kind of judicial review.

They handle patent cases all the time. It has more to do with them knowing how to handle it vs. they give into patent trolls.

Or so someone said.

In any case, Apple, care to revise your stance on patents?

That's right, I don't care if they are Nokia's or Opti's or anyone elses. Stupid crap like this needs to stop.
post #8 of 28
Michael Moore, East Texas patent courts await your close attention. Please.
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post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Just out of curiosity, does anyone happen to know why the famous East Texas court is so amenable to patent trolls?

Is it a particular judge? Do they crave the notoriety? Ambient local ideology? Kickbacks? It just seems a bizarre that a particular district court could have such a well known reputation for predetermined outcomes and it wouldn't draw some kind of judicial review.

That is a high-tech area. The judges actually know a thing or two about tech. That's why high-tech patent cases get filed there all the time. If you actually have a case (and OPTi certainly did in this case), it's best to present it before knowledgeable people. Now as to the qualifications of the jury...
post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phone-UI-Guy View Post

And so the patent trolls were fed.

Why do you call OPTi patent trolls? They invented the technology. At one time they actually manufactured the stuff. They *do* have the right to benefit from the use of their technology. Apple was clearly wrong in this case as the courts affirmed.

Apple isn't always in the right on these matters. If they misuse someone else's patented work, they need to pay for it. Else why should people like Motorola, HTC, or Nokia have to respect Apple's patents?
post #11 of 28
Probably a straight economic decision. Continued court and legal costs were getting projected to the point of being higher than a settlement now. The number of millions in this case is paltry compared to the legal team costs which would probably go several million each by the time all appeals are done.

By taking less, but getting to keep the original win OPTi gets to use the precedent in all its future cases. I wouldn't doubt they gave a reasonable discount for that.
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post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by rhyde View Post

That is a high-tech area. The judges actually know a thing or two about tech. That's why high-tech patent cases get filed there all the time. If you actually have a case (and OPTi certainly did in this case), it's best to present it before knowledgeable people. Now as to the qualifications of the jury...

Silicon Valley is not exactly The Beverly Hillbillies when it comes to high tech. Wouldn't it be the most knowledgeable area when it comes to judges and juries? I am sure there is a Federal Court in that quaint little West California backwater called San Francisco. There is more to this East Texas hotbed of litigation than has been offered as explanation so far in this thread.
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post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by rhyde View Post

Why do you call OPTi patent trolls? They invented the technology. At one time they actually manufactured the stuff. They *do* have the right to benefit from the use of their technology. Apple was clearly wrong in this case as the courts affirmed.

Apple isn't always in the right on these matters. If they misuse someone else's patented work, they need to pay for it. Else why should people like Motorola, HTC, or Nokia have to respect Apple's patents?

You may be right, but unless you have read the trial transcripts you are speculating just as much as those who cry "patent trolls." The problem is that the reputation of these courts have caused many to raise eyebrows, causing suspicion about the situation and mistrust of the outcomes.
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post #14 of 28
I would bet that between Apple suing others and Apple being sued, it is a break even.
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by rhyde View Post

Why do you call OPTi patent trolls? They invented the technology. At one time they actually manufactured the stuff. They *do* have the right to benefit from the use of their technology. Apple was clearly wrong in this case as the courts affirmed.

Apple isn't always in the right on these matters. If they misuse someone else's patented work, they need to pay for it. Else why should people like Motorola, HTC, or Nokia have to respect Apple's patents?

Make no mistake, OPTi is a patent Troll, albeit a smart one. They didn't invent anything. They played the system by documenting in broad terms an idea and process that had prior art. There is no doubt about it. They don't even make anything! Except lawsuits. The real crime is that the US Patent and Trademark Office grants these ridiculous patents. If you are going to get a patent I think you should HAVE to show intent to actually use it in a product or license it (like a Qualcomm model). If you just sit back and troll (ah, there's that word again) the waters for a successful company to sue because they built something independently, you shouldn't be rewarded for that.

Apple protects its patents because it actually BUILDS things that use them. So they are protecting their products. That is a BIG difference.

I'm just saying.
post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwoot27 View Post

Do patents ever expire? Why doesn't the federal goverment do anything about Texas and allowing these lawsuits??


Simple answer: most patents expire twenty years from the filing date.

Every court interprets the law as each individual judge sees it. He may get embarrassed on appeal, or his wild opinion may, on appeal, become the new standard.

Got a better idea? Go for it! (Well, sometimes someone somewhere does find ways to make things better.)
post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Landcruiser View Post

Make no mistake, OPTi is a patent Troll, albeit a smart one. They didn't invent anything. They played the system by documenting in broad terms an idea and process that had prior art. There is no doubt about it. They don't even make anything! Except lawsuits. The real crime is that the US Patent and Trademark Office grants these ridiculous patents. If you are going to get a patent I think you should HAVE to show intent to actually use it in a product or license it (like a Qualcomm model). If you just sit back and troll (ah, there's that word again) the waters for a successful company to sue because they built something independently, you shouldn't be rewarded for that.

Apple protects its patents because it actually BUILDS things that use them. So they are protecting their products. That is a BIG difference.

I'm just saying.

You're just saying that they didn't have a case, even though they won one in a court of law.
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post #18 of 28
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Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

You're just saying that they didn't have a case, even though they won one in a court of law.

Not quite. When you win your case in a court with a national reputation for being fair and even-handed, it carries a certain weight. When you win your case in a court with a national reputation for being LESS THAN fair and even-handed, it DOESN'T carry that weight. It just doesn't.
post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by sprockkets View Post

They handle patent cases all the time. It has more to do with them knowing how to handle it vs. they give into patent trolls.

it is the latter. That particular court is known for siding with 'the little guy' 99.9% of the time even it seems obvious that they should lose. They dont seem to ever take the time to really consider things like prior art, major change etc.

The answer is to drop all patents on mere ideas. Copyright has done this and the lack of being able to copyright an idea hasn't hurt 'the creative process' one bit. Make it so you can only patent the way you will do X. Or if you want, allow a limited idea patent. Say 24 months. If tech can't be produced by then, sorry the idea goes out into the wild. If someone else thinks of the same thing before you get your tech sorted out, you can't stop them. And it does have to be perfect tech, just something reasonably viable

Also they should make it so that all cases must be filed in the district where one of the parties is actually located. And they can't just pick up and move offices to that district just to file. Have tests to determine if it is a valid location or not (like they have to have been there for at least six months in a physical location and show receipts of actual transactions supporting that location)
post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by rhyde View Post

That is a high-tech area. The judges actually know a thing or two about tech. That's why high-tech patent cases get filed there all the time. If you actually have a case (and OPTi certainly did in this case), it's best to present it before knowledgeable people. Now as to the qualifications of the jury...

Well, that would account for informed rulings from the bench. However, it seems that "East Texas" and "patent litigation friendly" are generally thought to be nearly synonymous, which is another matter entirely. Not seeing a lot of patent cases come before San Mateo County courts, and that's Silicon Valley, so there must be more to it than just "tech savvy."

Unless the idea is that most high tech patent claims have merit, hence what I assume to be disproportionate findings? Because if that's not the case, then some prior notion of appropriate outcome is in play, and that's not really OK. Moreover, it's not OK in a way that I would have thought would have invited scrutiny, but apparently not.
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post #21 of 28
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Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Well, that would account for informed rulings from the bench. However, it seems that "East Texas" and "patent litigation friendly" are generally thought to be nearly synonymous, which is another matter entirely. Not seeing a lot of patent cases come before San Mateo County courts, and that's Silicon Valley, so there must be more to it than just "tech savvy."

Unless the idea is that most high tech patent claims have merit, hence what I assume to be disproportionate findings? Because if that's not the case, then some prior notion of appropriate outcome is in play, and that's not really OK. Moreover, it's not OK in a way that I would have thought would have invited scrutiny, but apparently not.

San Mateo County is known as 'the peninsula'... Mostly hills, not much in the way of valleys.
You want Santa Clara County, where Apple/many other tech companies are and also known as Silicon Valley.

But your point is still valid, and San Mateo is still a lot closer than East Texas.
post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by oxygenhose View Post

San Mateo County is known as 'the peninsula'... Mostly hills, not much in the way of valleys.
You want Santa Clara County, where Apple/many other tech companies are and also known as Silicon Valley.

But your point is still valid, and San Mateo is still a lot closer than East Texas.

Duh. I'd just been down to Stanford, right on the county border, and apparently got that stuck in my head.
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post #23 of 28
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Originally Posted by Ronbo View Post

Not quite. When you win your case in a court with a national reputation for being fair and even-handed, it carries a certain weight. When you win your case in a court with a national reputation for being LESS THAN fair and even-handed, it DOESN'T carry that weight. It just doesn't.

Only by your reckoning, which doesn't seem to come from any particular understanding of the law so much as from some stuff somebody said on the Internet.
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post #24 of 28
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Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

Michael Moore, East Texas patent courts await your close attention. Please.

Yes, because his stance of Cuba having better health care than the US was right on the mark. The guy is a bumbling idiot. Hope he dies of a heart attack.
post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Well, that would account for informed rulings from the bench. However, it seems that "East Texas" and "patent litigation friendly" are generally thought to be nearly synonymous, which is another matter entirely. Not seeing a lot of patent cases come before San Mateo County courts, and that's Silicon Valley, so there must be more to it than just "tech savvy."

Maybe someone from that area of Texas could comment, but nothing I've read points to "high-tech". Relatively small town, with a former patent-layer judge appointed in 1999. His methods, while unusual, seem to produce the results he believes in.

It's an interesting microcosm.
post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by stompy View Post

Maybe someone from that area of Texas could comment, but nothing I've read points to "high-tech". Relatively small town, with a former patent-layer judge appointed in 1999. His methods, while unusual, seem to produce the results he believes in.

It's an interesting microcosm.

Thanks for the links, they leave me more mystified than ever. The story on the single patent friendly judge who has made a cottage industry for Marshall out of attracting patent trolls seems hard to explain. Aren't there judicial checks and balances that would reign in a judge who was clearly handing down wildly disproportionate decisions on a particular type of case? As the article states:

Quote:
About 70 percent of Ward's trials have resulted in victories for patent owners, the research company said. The national average is 23.5 percent.

How is that not a red flag? Maybe I don't understand how litigation or judicial ruling work, but I would have thought that being that far off the curve would clearly indicate some factor in play other than the merits of the cases being heard, and that that would be frowned on.

And it's not as if its something discovered by careful analysis of obscure data-- the freaking town is freaking famous for exactly this. I guess I'm also curious where the previous poster got the idea that the area is "high tech" and that that accounts for the number of cases heard, because I can't find anything about Marshall that suggests that. Being 90 miles from Dallas/Ft. Worth doesn't make it any more high tech than does Petaluma's proximity to San Jose.
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post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Thanks for the links, they leave me more mystified than ever. The story on the single patent friendly judge who has made a cottage industry for Marshall out of attracting patent trolls seems hard to explain. Aren't there judicial checks and balances that would reign in a judge who was clearly handing down wildly disproportionate decisions on a particular type of case? As the article states:

The first question I'd ask is, does this judge get overturned on appeal on a disproportional basis?

Beware of getting in between dueling lawyers. Lest we forget, they are paid to be tireless advocates for whomever pays them. For instance, we are expected to the argument:

Quote:
Juries in East Texas, unlike those in Houston, Dallas or Austin, are much less likely to have a member with any technical training or education, which exacerbates the problem from the defense perspective, but makes East Texas federal courts an attractive venue for would-be plaintiffs, who know that the jury will, instead, gravitate toward softer or superficial issues that are difficult to predict.

... on face value, but it leaves entirely unanswered the question of why such a makeup would favor either side in a highly technical dispute. Color me suspicious.
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post #28 of 28
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Originally Posted by patent litigation View Post

The recent Intellectual Ventures suits provide just one example showing that the NPE business model is fast becoming dominant in the world of IP. Thomas Edison held over 1,000 patents, but practiced none of them. He invented, which is what he did best, and let others manufacture products from his inventions. If an inventor cannot sue for patent infringement and recover damages, they why should anyone invent anything? Only vigorous patent enforcement rewards inventors for their inventions and incentivizes others to invent.

I'm inclined to agree. The patent suits among various IT companies in the recent several years have really gotten out of hand. This suit is just a poster child of what can go wrong with the patent and the related patent court system.

A broad based idea in general should not be accepted as a patent, with some exceptional cases. The actual techniques: algorithms, formal models, software implementation, hardware design should be the elements that are patentable, not some vague idea that anyone can daydream up. Perhaps it would be best if there were some patent application and enforcement moritorium, and a deep look into how the system might need to be reformed to bring up to modern standards that work for the IT industry.
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