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'Automated browsing tool' patent holder sues Apple over iTunes, Apple TV

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
The owner of a patent related to "automated browsing" of Web content in a television-style format has accused Apple of stealing his ideas through products like the Apple TV and iTunes.

A new lawsuit was filed this week in a U.S. District Court in Delaware by the company Robocast against Apple. Robocast is the owner of U.S. Patent No. 7,155,451, entitled "Automated browsing system for publishers and users on networks serving internet and remote devices."

In its complaint, Robocast notes that the company's founder, Damon Torres, "pioneered the use of automated web browsing" in the '90s. It credits him for creating a "new paradigm" in the Web browsing experience.

"Mr. Torres foresaw the far broader potential of the Web as a medium for content delivery that functioned more like television, but with the significant benefits provided by user interactivity and control, and the vast resources accessible via the Internet," the complaint reads.

Torres originally filed his patent application in September of 1996, and by 2001 customers included Internet publisher Hachette Filipacchi and InfoSpace. Robocast was apparently also highlighted as part of the Microsoft TV developer program in 2001.

The lawsuit claims that Robocast technology was shown off at the Spring Internet World show in Los Angeles, Calif., in April 1999. At that show, it is claimed that Apple employee Fred Reynolds visited Robocast's booth and saw its product.



"Apple has since incorporated Robocast's patented automated browsing technology into a number of its products and services, including at least the following: Apple TV, FrontRow, and iTunes," the complaint reads.

Robocast has asked that the court find Apple in violation of the '451 patent. The company seeks either a permanent injunction against Apple, or that the court award Robocast a compulsory ongoing licensing fee.
post #2 of 39
Not again ...

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post #3 of 39
What web content is Apple TV displaying? It is fetching data over the Internet, but the web is only a small subset of the Internet.
post #4 of 39
Huh? Over the past 12 years, did he forget that he had this patent and, suddenly, have an epiphany? Wonder what the statute of limitations is for this particular area? And, what about other entities that employ very similar presentation methods?

I dunno; it sounds rather trollish to me. It way past the time that patent and IP law be revisited around software development...
post #5 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by SixPenceRicher View Post

Huh? Over the past 12 years, did he forget that he had this patent and, suddenly, have an epiphany? Wonder what the statute of limitations is for this particular area? And, what about other entities that employ very similar presentation methods?

I dunno; it sounds rather trollish to me. It way past the time that patent and IP law be revisited around software development...

Just because you see an idea does not mean you stole the source code for that idea. How may different ways can an idea be implemented? Gee if I patent every idea I have programmed I could be rich. But that does not mean someone cannot implement the same idea using a different method.
Let's get real. These type of lawsuits are a waste of everyone's time and money.
post #6 of 39
I don't like patent trolling. He should've sued when the products were first introduced now years and years later after they've been proven to be successful.
post #7 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by SixPenceRicher View Post

Huh? Over the past 12 years, did he forget that he had this patent and, suddenly, have an epiphany? Wonder what the statute of limitations is for this particular area? And, what about other entities that employ very similar presentation methods?

I dunno; it sounds rather trollish to me. It way past the time that patent and IP law be revisited around software development...

The patent was "only" granted at the end of 2006, so it's only been 4 years and change. IANAL, but I believe you can sue for past damages until a patent expires.
post #8 of 39
From my reading of the patent, it describes a system of making linear programs out of web content. Basically playlists. It talks about the user rearranging a list of 'nodes' and the possibility of these being adverts. It talks about sharing these playlists with other people. I can't really think what apple has that does this, certainly not with web content. There may be a more specific clause that he thinks he can get apple on, but I'd say they're not infringing on the invention in it's entirety...
post #9 of 39
Well at least the patent holder is the original inventor, not a patent holding company and it is filed in the State of Delaware, not Eastern Texas.

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post #10 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by eAi View Post

From my reading of the patent, it describes a system of making linear programs out of web content. Basically playlists. It talks about the user rearranging a list of 'nodes' and the possibility of these being adverts. It talks about sharing these playlists with other people. I can't really think what apple has that does this, certainly not with web content. There may be a more specific clause that he thinks he can get apple on, but I'd say they're not infringing on the invention in it's entirety...

Are you saying that they are suing over people using a playlist. Trivial lawsuits like this hurt innovation.
post #11 of 39
When Apple sues = good
When Apple gets sued = bad

Most of you are against this lawsuit, I bet if the roles were reversed there would be 50 replies already about how this is a "slam dunk for Apple" and how they need to defend their patents. One only has to look at the trademark lawsuit threads and past threads of Apple being sued to know this would be the case.
post #12 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by SixPenceRicher View Post

Huh? Over the past 12 years, did he forget that he had this patent and, suddenly, have an epiphany?

No -- my guess is a patent-trolling lawyer found this patent, decided he could make a half-case against... AppleTV! That's it! Apple has a lot of money! This scuzbag lawyer then contacted the patent holder and told him he could sue Apple et al for large sums of money.
post #13 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Well at least the patent holder is the original inventor, not a patent holding company and it is filed in the State of Delaware, not Eastern Texas.

You don't think inventors should be able to sell their intellectual property?
post #14 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The owner of a patent related to "automated browsing" of Web content in a television-style format has accused Apple of stealing his ideas through products like the Apple TV and iTunes.

Robocast has asked that the court find Apple in violation of the '451 patent. The company seeks either a permanent injunction against Apple, or that the court award Robocast a compulsory ongoing licensing fee.


Why does CA not open a "Sue Apple Court" in Cupertino and anyone whoever thought of anything can go there and sue Apple?

This is getting ridiculous beyond words.

JDS
post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by IVK View Post

When Apple sues = good
When Apple gets sued = bad

Most of you are against this lawsuit, I bet if the roles were reversed there would be 50 replies already about how this is a "slam dunk for Apple" and how they need to defend their patents. One only has to look at the trademark lawsuit threads and past threads of Apple being sued to know this would be the case.

If you don't understand the legal differences between trademark and patent, do us a favor and instead of posting useless drivel on stuff you know less than jack about, just go enjoy a hot, steaming cup of STFU.
post #16 of 39
Well... in the 90's weren't we all using CRT "tube" monitors for our PC's??? The same as the TV sets of that era? So weren't we all violating his patent?

Pass the settlement basket around. $1 per violator please.
post #17 of 39
As long as Apple don't do exactly what his patent entails then there is no case. Unless his patent is vague, in which case Apples lawyers can argue that it is not focused, is vague and overreaching. If Apple do infringe then they will settle.

Anyhow, shit like this goes on everyday fir a multitude of companies and is just business.
post #18 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by shadow415 View Post

If you don't understand the legal differences between trademark and patent, do us a favor and instead of posting useless drivel on stuff you know less than jack about, just go enjoy a hot, steaming cup of STFU.

Awww, how mature of you! I can tell that lack of maturity impacts your ability to read an entire post thoroughly. Go skim through threads where Apple are suing because their patents being violated, suddenly the patent system isn't so evil. Since you clearly have selective reading and ignored the other part of my post, Apple has been sued for violating trademarks too, plenty of times. The responses in those threads are just as predictable as what your next response is going to be.
post #19 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by IVK View Post

Awww, how mature of you! I can tell that lack of maturity impacts your ability to read an entire post thoroughly. Go skim through threads where Apple are suing because their patents being violated, suddenly the patent system isn't so evil. Since you clearly have selective reading and ignored the other part of my post, Apple has been sued for violating trademarks too, plenty of times. The responses in those threads are just as predictable as what your next response is going to be.

Apple's rate of suing to protect their IP is at or near the bottom in the entire Industry. On the other hand, the level of companies attempting to sue Apple since the release of the iPhone is at or near the highest level in the entire industry.

I'll leave you to build a list of active lawsuits Apple is pursuing compared to third parties pursuing lawsuits against Apple.
post #20 of 39
When Apple does something to someone, be it sue for trademark/patent violation, people here think "MMM GOOD!"
When the roles are reversed "GRRR BAD!"

I could careless about who sues Apple, who Apple sues, that is not my point at all. All I want is consistency, but I'm looking at the wrong place for that apparently. So continue on thinking when Apple does something, it's good but when it happens to them, it's bad. Sorry folks, generic trademarks from both aisles are stupid, and so are the majority of software patents that are granted. That includes patents issued to Apple as well.

The inability to read here is sad sometimes. It doesn't surprise me given the lack of consistency of most Mac users and their defensive nature because of their loyalty to a company that honestly, doesn't care about any of us; just our money. Brand loyalty breeds stupidity. One only has to look at a majority of blind nationalist posing as Patriots of America to understand that.
post #21 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by IVK View Post

When Apple does something to someone, be it sue for trademark/patent violation, people here think "MMM GOOD!"
When the roles are reversed "GRRR BAD!"

Trademarks are used to make it clear who a product comes from, so companies can't sucker people into thinking their product comes from someone else when it doesn't, and ride on someone else's reputation. To make sure there's no chance of confusion, only one company in a given product area can use a particular trademark. It's just words, and doesn't require payments or prevent products from being sold under some other name. Since no one used the term "App Store" before Apple started to, its perfectly reasonable for them to want the trademark.

Patents are a somewhat outmoded idea, originally intended to promote disclosure of how inventions work so everything wouldn't be a trade secret. They're also supposed to encourage investment in technology, since others can't simply copy your invention when you get it working. For a company like Apple with deep pockets, patents are mostly a way for everyone to sue them to try to get some of their money. Apple files its own patents so it can countersue, but this doesn't work with patent trolls, who's only business is to sue. The only ones who really benefit from the patent system are the lawyers. Apple originates very few patent lawsuits, and would be very happy if the whole patent system just went away.
post #22 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

I don't like patent trolling. He should've sued when the products were first introduced now years and years later after they've been proven to be successful.

Well that's the whole point. Wait until the products ARE successful, then sue. You can claim your patent is more valuable that way. It's all about money anyway.
post #23 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by IVK View Post

When Apple does something to someone, be it sue for trademark/patent violation, people here think "MMM GOOD!"
When the roles are reversed "GRRR BAD!"

I could careless about who sues Apple, who Apple sues, that is not my point at all. All I want is consistency, but I'm looking at the wrong place for that apparently. So continue on thinking when Apple does something, it's good but when it happens to them, it's bad. Sorry folks, generic trademarks from both aisles are stupid, and so are the majority of software patents that are granted. That includes patents issued to Apple as well.

The inability to read here is sad sometimes. It doesn't surprise me given the lack of consistency of most Mac users and their defensive nature because of their loyalty to a company that honestly, doesn't care about any of us; just our money. Brand loyalty breeds stupidity. One only has to look at a majority of blind nationalist posing as Patriots of America to understand that.

Your beef are with fans of Apple, yet your vitriol implies that Apple is at fault for creating such a collection of fans.

Did it ever occur to you that when Apple has consistently lead the industry in customer satisfaction that it's because they've earned it and when people own products that exceed their expectations in quality for their buying power that it is incumbent upon the competition to innovate to regain that mind share?

Being sued comes with the territory of becoming successful.

You give the impression that you feel inundated or overburdened by this pro-Apple defense, on an Apple focused web site, that you wish them failure if only to silence the hundreds of millions of satisfied customers that keeps expanding more rapidly than the rest of the industry, despite every effort of the competition to take whatever means necessary to try and derail their well-earned successes.

The amount of propagandist journalists who get paid to shill for Android [to name one example] on tech sites, to political sites, to basic blogs unrelated to the technologies has even spilled over to pro-Apple sites.

And you wonder how come pro-Apple sites are sick of it and defend the products, and the company they invest heavily in to keep their lives with computing meeting their needs?
post #24 of 39
First, I am amazed at how negligent Apple is when it comes to patenting their own creations. Also, how often Apple loses these suits. They must feel that the cost of litigation - IF they're caught - is favorable to negotiations and costs of licensing in the first place. They are the doers in the industry. Others may have ideas, but Apple sees the potential and brings things to fruition where others pay for patents that go unfulfilled. Even if they lose and have to pay $4 million, that's probably less than they would have paid for licensing or salary over the course of those years.
post #25 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by IVK View Post

When Apple sues = good
When Apple gets sued = bad

Most of you are against this lawsuit, I bet if the roles were reversed there would be 50 replies already about how this is a "slam dunk for Apple" and how they need to defend their patents. One only has to look at the trademark lawsuit threads and past threads of Apple being sued to know this would be the case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IVK View Post

Awww, how mature of you! I can tell that lack of maturity impacts your ability to read an entire post thoroughly. Go skim through threads where Apple are suing because their patents being violated, suddenly the patent system isn't so evil. Since you clearly have selective reading and ignored the other part of my post, Apple has been sued for violating trademarks too, plenty of times. The responses in those threads are just as predictable as what your next response is going to be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IVK View Post

When Apple does something to someone, be it sue for trademark/patent violation, people here think "MMM GOOD!"
When the roles are reversed "GRRR BAD!"

I could careless about who sues Apple, who Apple sues, that is not my point at all. All I want is consistency, but I'm looking at the wrong place for that apparently. So continue on thinking when Apple does something, it's good but when it happens to them, it's bad. Sorry folks, generic trademarks from both aisles are stupid, and so are the majority of software patents that are granted. That includes patents issued to Apple as well.

The inability to read here is sad sometimes. It doesn't surprise me given the lack of consistency of most Mac users and their defensive nature because of their loyalty to a company that honestly, doesn't care about any of us; just our money. Brand loyalty breeds stupidity. One only has to look at a majority of blind nationalist posing as Patriots of America to understand that.

Would you like a tissue?

Come here little man, someone needs a virtual hug.
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post #26 of 39
It was like that when I got here
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post #27 of 39
Just from reading the abstract of the patent it look like it more closely resembles many of the flash players that you find on news sites that automatically go from video to video. The initial few sentences may relate to something iTunes does, but it does not play any content in a web environment so it almost seams not to qualify. Also a big part of this is the generation of dynamically generated web pages which a big chuck of the web does now.

Sounds like they need to go after Flash developers too.

It's all about one click delivery of multiple video resources from one click based on dynamically generated content. Although iTunes does work as a web browser for the store, I have a feeling it's more app for the functions they are suing on.

I guess we will see. I wanted to see if anything they were suing on was valid and I find it a bit of a stretch. there a some similarities, but the actual action and methodology appears to be quite different. But that is just my take from a quick scan of the patent.

I am sure they will pick this apart and if Apple violated the patent they will have to pay up. Otherwise, the alternate violators may be web sites that use flash versions of this and that may be hard for them to collect on.
post #28 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by IVK View Post

When Apple does something to someone, be it sue for trademark/patent violation, people here think "MMM GOOD!"
When the roles are reversed "GRRR BAD!"

I could careless about who sues Apple, who Apple sues, that is not my point at all. All I want is consistency, but I'm looking at the wrong place for that apparently. So continue on thinking when Apple does something, it's good but when it happens to them, it's bad. Sorry folks, generic trademarks from both aisles are stupid, and so are the majority of software patents that are granted. That includes patents issued to Apple as well.

The inability to read here is sad sometimes. It doesn't surprise me given the lack of consistency of most Mac users and their defensive nature because of their loyalty to a company that honestly, doesn't care about any of us; just our money. Brand loyalty breeds stupidity. One only has to look at a majority of blind nationalist posing as Patriots of America to understand that.

I agree with the previous poster - take a big gulp of STFU - you have no clue what you are talking about. Your last paragraph says it all. You are nothing more than a troll and hater when you make the absolutely absurd statement that Apple is "a company that honestly, doesn't care about any of us". The complete opposite is true - they are singularly focused on creating the best possible consumer experience, period! Further, the fact that they have, by far, the highest ratings for customer satisfaction and customer service and support says it all. You, on the other hand, should go have that drink.
post #29 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenburg View Post

First, I am amazed at how negligent Apple is when it comes to patenting their own creations. Also, how often Apple loses these suits. They must feel that the cost of litigation - IF they're caught - is favorable to negotiations and costs of licensing in the first place. They are the doers in the industry. Others may have ideas, but Apple sees the potential and brings things to fruition where others pay for patents that go unfulfilled. Even if they lose and have to pay $4 million, that's probably less than they would have paid for licensing or salary over the course of those years.

What are you talking about? They win greater than 9/10ths of all lawsuits that ever go to trial.

Since 2007 they've been awarded more than 3000 patents for their product lines.

http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2010/03/...le-google-htc/

Of course they have far more than those recent patents in their entire portfolio.

At the rate in which Apple is putting an effort into advanced R&D Apple should push past 1,000 patents issued in 2011 alone.

It's March and Apple is about to surpass 200 patents granted by the end of next week, through the USPTO, for 2011.

That 1,000 mark is still < 20% of what IBM pumped out last year. Yet, which company actually puts larger portions of it's IP to making products that produce a huge ROI?

It's not IBM.

Patent Production growth leaders:

http://www.ificlaims.com/news/top-patents.html

They'll have to push Apple passed 100% growth for 2011 by next year's report.

So, Apple isn't resting on any thing with respect to R&D and Patenting their research.
post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by rivertrip View Post

You don't think inventors should be able to sell their intellectual property?

I think he was referring to some of the garbage that goes through the eastern district of Texas. For example, Johnson & Johnson filed a lawsuit there over the invention of a drug. There were absolutely no facts to back up the case and the jury awarded J&J $2 billion dollars, which at the time was the largest amount ever awarded. On appeal the decision was reversed and the appeals court judge basically said he could not believe how wrong-headed the original decision was. That district almost always rules for the plaintiff. It's become a second industry.
post #31 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The owner of a patent related to "automated browsing" of Web content in a television-style format has accused Apple of stealing his ideas through products like the Apple TV and iTunes.

A new lawsuit was filed this week in a U.S. District Court in Delaware by the company Robocast against Apple. Robocast is the owner of U.S. Patent No. 7,155,451, entitled "Automated browsing system for publishers and users on networks serving internet and remote devices."

In its complaint, Robocast notes that the company's founder, Damon Torres, "pioneered the use of automated web browsing" in the '90s. It credits him for creating a "new paradigm" in the Web browsing experience.

"Mr. Torres foresaw the far broader potential of the Web as a medium for content delivery that functioned more like television, but with the significant benefits provided by user interactivity and control, and the vast resources accessible via the Internet," the complaint reads.

Torres originally filed his patent application in September of 1996, and by 2001 customers included Internet publisher Hachette Filipacchi and InfoSpace. Robocast was apparently also highlighted as part of the Microsoft TV developer program in 2001.

The lawsuit claims that Robocast technology was shown off at the Spring Internet World show in Los Angeles, Calif., in April 1999. At that show, it is claimed that Apple employee Fred Reynolds visited Robocast's booth and saw its product.

"Apple has since incorporated Robocast's patented automated browsing technology into a number of its products and services, including at least the following: Apple TV, FrontRow, and iTunes," the complaint reads.

Robocast has asked that the court find Apple in violation of the '451 patent. The company seeks either a permanent injunction against Apple, or that the court award Robocast a compulsory ongoing licensing fee.

Another Patent Troll company trying to get rich quick by going to court. Lame!!!!
post #32 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by IVK View Post

When Apple sues = good
When Apple gets sued = bad

Most of you are against this lawsuit, I bet if the roles were reversed there would be 50 replies already about how this is a "slam dunk for Apple" and how they need to defend their patents. One only has to look at the trademark lawsuit threads and past threads of Apple being sued to know this would be the case.

Sadly, I think I have to agree. I HATE seeing Apple sued, and usually feel the suites have no merit, but this one sounds like Apple may have borrowed part of his idea. Maybe Apple could license it cheaply based on the volume they do?
post #33 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by rivertrip View Post

You don't think inventors should be able to sell their intellectual property?

Just saying that 99% of the time we see Apple sued by a holding company in East Texas the claims seem to be dubious at best.

If you own patents simply as a business to bring lawsuits against successful companies and have no intention of producing anything yourself, especially when the claims are really far fetched, that is called patent trolling.

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post #34 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by powerbrent View Post

Sadly, I think I have to agree. I HATE seeing Apple sued, and usually feel the suites have no merit, but this one sounds like Apple may have borrowed part of his idea. Maybe Apple could license it cheaply based on the volume they do?

Maybe Apple could offer a licensing fee based on what they sell iTunes software for (zero) or how much it costs to install the software on an Apple TV (also zero).
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post #35 of 39
Another pig at the trough.
post #36 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by IVK View Post

When Apple does something to someone, be it sue for trademark/patent violation, people here think "MMM GOOD!"
When the roles are reversed "GRRR BAD!"

I could careless about who sues Apple, who Apple sues, that is not my point at all. All I want is consistency, but I'm looking at the wrong place for that apparently. So continue on thinking when Apple does something, it's good but when it happens to them, it's bad. Sorry folks, generic trademarks from both aisles are stupid, and so are the majority of software patents that are granted. That includes patents issued to Apple as well.

The inability to read here is sad sometimes. It doesn't surprise me given the lack of consistency of most Mac users and their defensive nature because of their loyalty to a company that honestly, doesn't care about any of us; just our money. Brand loyalty breeds stupidity. One only has to look at a majority of blind nationalist posing as Patriots of America to understand that.

Then why even post here? What drove you to throw down the gauntlet and not expect a response? Sure fine - love your anti-capitalist commentary - but again why here? What a thorough-going waste of your personal wisdom and insight. Do you know categorically that this suit is defensible? Did you know that the other suits were defensible? Are you a patent lawyer? You obviously only skimmed a few threads and grabbed just what served your commentary.

Your commentary is painfully obvious in its attempt to garner responses - like a spoiled brat throwing a fit among adults until it gets whatever attention it can get - bad or good. You are not offering discussion here you are deliberately goading responses by the use of the phrases above and previously. So here you go. Enjoy the attention.
If you are going to insist on being an ass, at least demonstrate the intelligence to be a smart one
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post #37 of 39
The idiots at the patent office need to stop granting patents for vague crap like this. This is such crap.
post #38 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by bfpseller View Post

I really hate all of these patents sue. Patent law in US needs a revision

Same here... this 'I had a dream' bs has got to stop.
post #39 of 39
[QUOTE]
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"Mr. Torres foresaw the far broader potential of the Web as a medium for content delivery that functioned more like television, but with the significant benefits provided by user interactivity and control, and the vast resources accessible via the Internet," the complaint reads.

...and I have foreseen that one million dollars would make my life more financially sound. Can I patent that?
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