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DoJ probe could cost Google $500M; Apple receives patent for horizontal docking iPad

post #1 of 60
Thread Starter 
A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission by Google revealed Tuesday that the company expects to pay as much at $500 million in a Department of Justice probe into the company's advertising practices. Also, Apple has received a patent for an iPad design that features a dock connector port on both the bottom and the side of the device.

Google vs. DoJ

In a quarterly report to the SEC, Google retroactively lowered its first-quarter earnings by $500 million in anticipation of a settlement with the Department of Justice, the Associated Press reports.

The documents revealed few details about the nature of the DoJ investigation other than the fact that it involves how Google's automated system has been treating some unnamed advertisers.

The change, which drops Google's net income from $7.04 per share to $5.51 per share, affects what's already perceived as a disappointing quarter for the company. After rising expenses cut into Google's profits, Wall Street investors questioned co-founder Larry Page's new role as CEO. Google stock fell from $578.51 to $530.70 as a result, though it has since begun to climb again.

News of the unexpected costs could also cast a pall over the company's I/O developer conference in San Francisco, Calif. Google announced new music and movie services at the conference on Tuesday and previewed Ice Cream Sandwich, the next major Android release.

iPad patent

A design patent granted to Apple on Tuesday depicts an iPad-like device with an additional dock port for landscape orientation.

Described as "the ornamental design for a portable display device," the patent appears to be for a 3G iPad, as the device is shown with a SIM card slot next to the second dock connector port.



Notable inventors listed on the patent include Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Senior Vice President Jonathan Ive, as well as 13 others. The application was filed on Jan. 6, 2010, just weeks before the unveiling of the original iPad.



Apple has expressed interest in a horizontal docking solution for the iPad before. In a patent application published last year, the company filed for a dock that utilized inductive coils to allow docking in both portrait and landscape orientation.

post #2 of 60
I can't help but think that some of these patents are just getting silly. There is nothing particularly inventive about this.

It's a shame that the patent process appears to be degenerating into a race to simply register as many "ideas" (cough) as possible so that you can use them as ammunition to be traded in the next dispute with a competitor.
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post #3 of 60
Maybe I'm missing something, but why not just design a dock shaped like a sideways "L" with the connector on the vertical member?
post #4 of 60
Aperture Science. Now with 20% more smiley faces in patent filings.
post #5 of 60
Google, beyond their great search engine and their click to get paid business model they are pretty lame.
post #6 of 60
"Horizontal docking" is a little misleading. Sounds like the iPad is docked while lying down flat in its back. A better description would be landscape docking as opposed to the present portrait.
post #7 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by ameldrum1 View Post

I can't help but think that some of these patents are just getting silly. There is nothing particularly inventive about this

There doesn't have to be anything inventive for a design patent. It's a patent on the ornamental design, which simply means others can't copy it's appearance. This is not about function.
post #8 of 60
Come on Apple, if you're gonna patent it, make sure you include docking from the top & bottom too, just to be complete. I mean if you can't cover all the angles what's the point. Should include docking in mid-air and underwater just for good measure.
post #9 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by chabig View Post

There doesn't have to be anything inventive for a design patent. It's a patent on the ornamental design, which simply means others can't copy it's appearance. This is not about function.

Meaning I can't put a port in the middle of a device on the long side now?

If so, that's messed up.
post #10 of 60
This was a platent for the first iPad. It was thought that Apple would be coming out with a side connector on the iPad 2, but, as we know, that turned out to be u true. This patent, as far as I can tell, is a design latent, as has been mentioned. As such, it's for the entire device, and not for any one feature.


As for Google's fine. These companies are all so rich these days, that the fines are just tempory set-backs. If a company wants to do something, they won't allow a fine to prevent them from doing it. Microsoft has been fined billions of dollars over the years from the US and the EU, but it hasn't prevented them from continuing to flout the rules.

In order to prevent companies from doing these things, fines have to be even larger, or somehow tied to profits or gross sales.
post #11 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moshe View Post

Maybe I'm missing something, but why not just design a dock shaped like a sideways "L" with the connector on the vertical member?

that's exactly what I thought it was going to look like.
post #12 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanH View Post

"Horizontal docking" is a little misleading. Sounds like the iPad is docked while lying down flat in its back. A better description would be landscape docking as opposed to the present portrait.

Yeah, horizontal docking makes you rather think of reproduction processes than of patents for electronic devices.
post #13 of 60
Anyone who stupidly bought the iPad keyboard dock can appreciate the need for a connector on the side of the device. Not having one there put mine on Amazon Marketplace in record time.
post #14 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

... As for Google's fine. These companies are all so rich these days, that the fines are just tempory set-backs. If a company wants to do something, they won't allow a fine to prevent them from doing it. Microsoft has been fined billions of dollars over the years from the US and the EU, but it hasn't prevented them from continuing to flout the rules.

In order to prevent companies from doing these things, fines have to be even larger, or somehow tied to profits or gross sales.

Or, make it a criminal rather than a civil offense and put the CEOs in jail.

That's not likely to happen, so, yes, the only way to stop this sort of illegal behavior is to make the fines so large that it would put a company out of business to pay them. This is also the problem with so called "tort reform". If for example, you cap damage awards, causing injury becomes just another calculated business expense. If you can save $1 Million dollars by making an unsafe product, and you calculate, based on the expected injury rate and award caps that it will cost you $750K in expenses, you can still count on pocketing an extra $250K, and maybe that only amounts to one extra death per thousand sold, so it's easy on their consciences too.

To get unethical companies, like Google and Microsoft, to behave, the cost of breaking the law has to be staggering, or at least potentially and unpredictably so, something on the order of 1-5 years total revenues so that it can potentially bankrupt them.
post #15 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moshe View Post

Maybe I'm missing something, but why not just design a dock shaped like a sideways "L" with the connector on the vertical member?

Well, patent it then.
post #16 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by ameldrum1 View Post

It's a shame that the patent process appears to be degenerating into a race to simply register as many "ideas" (cough) as possible so that you can use them as ammunition to be traded in the next dispute with a competitor.

When has the patent process ever been about anything other than registering ideas first?
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post #17 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Or, make it a criminal rather than a civil offense and put the CEOs in jail.

That's not likely to happen, so, yes, the only way to stop this sort of illegal behavior is to make the fines so large that it would put a company out of business to pay them. This is also the problem with so called "tort reform". If for example, you cap damage awards, causing injury becomes just another calculated business expense. If you can save $1 Million dollars by making an unsafe product, and you calculate, based on the expected injury rate and award caps that it will cost you $750K in expenses, you can still count on pocketing an extra $250K, and maybe that only amounts to one extra death per thousand sold, so it's easy on their consciences too.

To get unethical companies, like Google and Microsoft, to behave, the cost of breaking the law has to be staggering, or at least potentially and unpredictably so, something on the order of 1-5 years total revenues so that it can potentially bankrupt them.

That's right on. If I personally break the law, I get thrown in jail and have my life ruined, at least for the term of the sentence. A company, which is treated pretty much as a person in the eyes of the law, should have its life ruined as result of breaking the law. If ruining the company is too harsh for the employees involved, we should definitly make the managment personally liable for deliberate law breaking.
post #18 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

When has the patent process ever been about anything other than registering ideas first?

It really should have been about particular implementation of an idea. Not just the concept itself, which the process have devolved into.

In the old days, patents are granted on real product, not concept drawings. Return to that old standard would solve a lot of problems exist in patents these days.
post #19 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

As for Google's fine. These companies are all so rich these days, that the fines are just tempory set-backs. If a company wants to do something, they won't allow a fine to prevent them from doing it. Microsoft has been fined billions of dollars over the years from the US and the EU, but it hasn't prevented them from continuing to flout the rules.

In order to prevent companies from doing these things, fines have to be even larger, or somehow tied to profits or gross sales.

Mel and/or Anonymouse, what is the "thing" that Google did that they need to be prevented from doing again with this rumored 500K fine? I' haven't seen any clear indication that Google themselves did anything.
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post #20 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by xsu View Post

It really should have been about particular implementation of an idea. Not just the concept itself, which the process have devolved into.

In the old days, patents are granted on real product, not concept drawings. Return to that old standard would solve a lot of problems exist in patents these days.

Wouldnt that have made it impossible to patent, say, the concept of the telephone, only various implementations of the telephone, thus leading to very fractured telephone system design that would inhibit the growth of communication for generations to come?

I have yet to hear a single fix for the patent system that isnt itself riddled with countless pitfalls.
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post #21 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Or, make it a criminal rather than a civil offense and put the CEOs in jail.

That's not likely to happen, so, yes, the only way to stop this sort of illegal behavior is to make the fines so large that it would put a company out of business to pay them. . .

the cost of breaking the law has to be staggering, or at least potentially and unpredictably so, something on the order of 1-5 years total revenues so that it can potentially bankrupt them.

Since the DoJ also has active Apple investigations in progress, how many years revenue should Apple lose if found in violation of US laws? There's claims that Amazon (and Google?) met resistance on securing record label deals due to heavy and illegal pressure from Apple on the record companies that already had deals in place on iTunes.

http://www.tuaw.com/2010/06/03/doj-expands-apple-probe/

http://www.mobiledia.com/news/71868.html

EDIT: I suspect the lack of comments on this will be all that needs to be said
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post #22 of 60
Shh...you insane? This is AppleInsider! Steve Jobs is God and Apple is the kingdom of heaven. They do no wrong. It's the laws that are illegal and should therefore be changed. God forbid punishing Apple!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Since the DoJ also has active Apple investigations in progress, how many years revenue should Apple lose if found in violation of US laws? There's claims that Amazon (and Google?) met resistance on securing record label deals due to heavy and illegal pressure from Apple.

http://www.tuaw.com/2010/06/03/doj-expands-apple-probe/

http://www.mobiledia.com/news/71868.html
post #23 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moshe View Post

Maybe I'm missing something, but why not just design a dock shaped like a sideways "L" with the connector on the vertical member?

Seriously? First off - just instinctively, that is one bad idea. Giving another 15 seconds thought it becomes apparent that you really have no idea of what drives apple's design ethos if you think they would ever produce an L-shaped iPad stand. Think about the practicality of such a stand - how would it work? Would you have one stand for vertical and one for horizontal? Or would you have two male connectors exposed at all times? If so, would one automatically retract? And how easy would it be to connect your device in the horizontal position? The stand would have to be super heavy and very rigid, and even then I suspect you'd need two hands to place your iPad in the stand. I would think about it for another 15 seconds if it seemed worthwhile but I just don't have the time. \
post #24 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanH View Post

"Horizontal docking" is a little misleading. Sounds like the iPad is docked while lying down flat in its back. A better description would be landscape docking as opposed to the present portrait.

Agreed. I thought the same thing.

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post #25 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

As for Google's fine. These companies are all so rich these days, that the fines are just tempory set-backs. If a company wants to do something, they won't allow a fine to prevent them from doing it.

We still don't know what the infraction was. Technology is moving so quickly, laws have to be reinterpreted in many cases to make them retroactively relevant. Rather than argue a vague point the parties settle instead. The size of the settlement is relative to their ability to pay. Basically a slap on the wrists. "Use of Google ads by certain advertisers". Give me a break. What the hell does that mean?

The bigger question in my mind is why there are so many stupid people who actually click on ads? Google sends me a nice check every month just because people are so stupid as to click on my ads.

Will the billions of ad clickers ever wise up? Maybe that is Apple's iAd strategy. Ads for smart people. No wonder it is failing. There just aren't enough smart people or they don't download ad supported apps, duh... because they are smart.

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post #26 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Or, make it a criminal rather than a civil offense and put the CEOs in jail.

That's not likely to happen, so, yes, the only way to stop this sort of illegal behavior is to make the fines so large that it would put a company out of business to pay them. This is also the problem with so called "tort reform". If for example, you cap damage awards, causing injury becomes just another calculated business expense. If you can save $1 Million dollars by making an unsafe product, and you calculate, based on the expected injury rate and award caps that it will cost you $750K in expenses, you can still count on pocketing an extra $250K, and maybe that only amounts to one extra death per thousand sold, so it's easy on their consciences too.

To get unethical companies, like Google and Microsoft, to behave, the cost of breaking the law has to be staggering, or at least potentially and unpredictably so, something on the order of 1-5 years total revenues so that it can potentially bankrupt them.

As they're not breaking criminal laws, they can't be taken to account tht way. now, if they were breaking laws of a criminal nature, that would be different.

But, it seems to me that all of these fines should be of the type of triple damages. Otherwise, it's just the cost of doing business.
post #27 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by xsu View Post

It really should have been about particular implementation of an idea. Not just the concept itself, which the process have devolved into.

In the old days, patents are granted on real product, not concept drawings. Return to that old standard would solve a lot of problems exist in patents these days.

It hasn't degenerated into that. It's that the patent office is so overworked, that they don't do the detail work they often need to do. Whenever it's proposed to significantly up the budget in order to hire more examiners, certain people in Congress veto it. So they get further behind.
post #28 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Mel and/or Anonymouse, what is the "thing" that Google did that they need to be prevented from doing again with this rumored 500K fine? I' haven't seen any clear indication that Google themselves did anything.

There are a number of articles about it.

http://www.thestreet.com/story/11115...ed&cm_ite=Feed
post #29 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

As they're not breaking criminal laws, they can't be taken to account tht way. now, if they were breaking laws of a criminal nature, that would be different.

Most advertising is a form of fraud, defined as misrepresentation, deception for financial gain, so that could be considered criminal, and civil depending on the jurisdiction. But it is shades of gray [grey]. Being evil is not against the law, only getting caught is.

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post #30 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Since the DoJ also has active Apple investigations in progress, how many years revenue should Apple lose if found in violation of US laws? There's claims that Amazon (and Google?) met resistance on securing record label deals due to heavy and illegal pressure from Apple on the record companies that already had deals in place on iTunes.

http://www.tuaw.com/2010/06/03/doj-expands-apple-probe/

http://www.mobiledia.com/news/71868.html

EDIT: I suspect the lack of comments on this will be all that needs to be said

It doesn't matter what company it is. If Apple is found flouting the laws, then they should be subject to massive fines as well. No favoritism there.
post #31 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

We still don't know what the infraction was. Technology is moving so quickly, laws have to be reinterpreted in many cases to make them retroactively relevant. Rather than argue a vague point the parties settle instead. The size of the settlement is relative to their ability to pay. Basically a slap on the wrists. "Use of Google ads by certain advertisers". Give me a break. What the hell does that mean?

The bigger question in my mind is why there are so many stupid people who actually click on ads? Google sends me a nice check every month just because people are so stupid as to click on my ads.

Will the billions of ad clickers ever wise up? Maybe that is Apple's iAd strategy. Ads for smart people. No wonder it is failing. There just aren't enough smart people or they don't download ad supported apps, duh... because they are smart.

The Feds rarely give details on cases like this until they're over. Google could say, if they want to, but they likely won't, unless they lose.
post #32 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

There are a number of articles about it.

http://www.thestreet.com/story/11115...ed&cm_ite=Feed

Your link says nothing about what Google actually did that was so grievous.

I'll save you the time in looking since no one knows what this is about other than the involved parties. There hasn't been any claim so far by the DoJ that Google themselves did anything specifically wrong. According to press reports this was an investigation into practices by some of Google's advertising partners. Since Google is the one with the deep pockets, they're the ones who will be expected to pony up.
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post #33 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

It doesn't matter what company it is. If Apple is found flouting the laws, then they should be subject to massive fines as well. No favoritism there.

That would be a pretty serious violation if true, wouldn't you agree Mel? I mean as long as we're guessing about whether Google or Apple is/are breaking any laws.
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post #34 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Most advertising is a form of fraud, defined as misrepresentation, deception for financial gain, so that could be considered criminal, and civil depending on the jurisdiction. But it is shades of gray [grey]. Being evil is not against the law, only getting caught is.

That's not really true. Most advertising plays up the good, and plays down the bad. Exaggeration has never been considered to be fraud, unless it's deceiving enough so that the average viewer wouldn't be able to tell. Ads are rarely like that.

I remember, perhaps 30 years ago, that Campbell's Soup did an Ad that was taken off the year because of what was thought of as deception, but really wasn't. What happened was that they had a "chunky" soup, and tried to photograph it, and film it. It didn't work. For some reason, the photography didn't look as it actually did. So they used some clear marbles at the bottom of the soup plate to make it look as it did in "person".

I remember that because was in advertising at the time, and knew the copyrighter for the Ad. I don't remember how it was found out, but things like that happen all the time. More often than believed, items don't look "right" in the photo or video, and so need to be "fixed".

Is that deception? I don't think so, but the laws are fairly specific, and often the conclusion is that it can't be done.

And much of advertising is opinion. If we decide that all adults think like six year olds, then I guess it's easy to deceive them. But I don't agree.
post #35 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Your link says nothing about what Google actually did that was so grievous.

I'll save you the time in looking since no one knows what this is about other than the involved parties. There hasn't been any claim so far by the DoJ that Google themselves did anything specifically wrong. According to press reports this was an investigation into practices by some of Google's advertising partners. Since Google is the one with the deep pockets, they're the ones who will be expected to pony up.

No. If it was third parties, then they would be cited. It's Google, so they're being cited. Google's press releases seen to infer that they know they did something, but that they're not sure if they will win or lose.

As I said earlier, The DOJ rarely comments on ongoing investigations of this type, and the company isn't obligated to comment either. We'll find out when it's over.
post #36 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

That would be a pretty serious violation if true, wouldn't you agree Mel? I mean as long as we're guessing about whether Google or Apple is/are breaking any laws.

Well, it's all about the "if it's true", and of course, whether any laws have been broken.

We don't know for sure in either case. But Google's case seems to be coming to a head soon, while we have no idea at what stage the investigation into Apple is.

So we can talk about Google now, as many other outlets are, and we have to wait until we find out something about Apple.

This article seems to give a pretty good explanation of what's going on with Google. It's what i heard about this before.

http://www.foxbusiness.com/technolog...0m-doj-charge/

This quote about the EU regulators looking into Google's alleged Ad practices is the same issue the DOJ is looking into.

"European regulators continue to probe Google over its popular search system, questioning whether the Internet behemoth unfairly manipulates search results to drive advertising sales and favor its own services."
post #37 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

Seriously? First off - just instinctively, that is one bad idea. Giving another 15 seconds thought it becomes apparent that you really have no idea of what drives apple's design ethos if you think they would ever produce an L-shaped iPad stand. Think about the practicality of such a stand - how would it work? Would you have one stand for vertical and one for horizontal? Or would you have two male connectors exposed at all times? If so, would one automatically retract? And how easy would it be to connect your device in the horizontal position? The stand would have to be super heavy and very rigid, and even then I suspect you'd need two hands to place your iPad in the stand. I would think about it for another 15 seconds if it seemed worthwhile but I just don't have the time. \

I like the "L" on its side. It seems to me that it would work for both portrait and landscape orientation using inductive coils.
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post #38 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

No. If it was third parties, then they would be cited. It's Google, so they're being cited. Google's press releases seen to infer that they know they did something, but that they're not sure if they will win or lose..

The official SEC filing on this seems to imply it wasn't specifically a Google issue.

Quote: "In May 2011, in connection with a potential resolution of an investigation by the United States Department of Justice into the use of Google advertising by certain advertisers, we accrued $500 million for the three month period ended March 31, 2011."
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post #39 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by city View Post

I like the "L" on its side. It seems to me that it would work for both portrait and landscape orientation using inductive coils.

But why the L shape? With a dock connector on both the short and long side there is no need for an L. An L just seems an awkward design, to me. As far as inductive coils go, how would these work? I thought inductive coils were mostly used in cars, so maybe I am missing something, here? Can someone explain how inductive coils would facilitate the optional positioning of an iPad?
post #40 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

The official SEC filing on this seems to imply it wasn't specifically a Google issue.

Quote: "In May 2011, in connection with a potential resolution of an investigation by the United States Department of Justice into the use of Google advertising by certain advertisers, we accrued $500 million for the three month period ended March 31, 2011."

If you read the article I posted, you would understand it, instead of repeating the same old thing.
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