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Lawsuit accuses Apple's Mac OS X Disk Utility of patent infringement

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
A new lawsuit takes aim at Apple, alleging that its Mac OS X operating system and its Disk Utility feature infringes on a patent related to peer-to-peer networking workgroups.

Software Restore Solutions filed the suit against Apple this week in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Apple is accused of violating U.S. Patent No. 5,832,511, entitled "Workgroup Network Manager for Controlling the Operation of Workstations Within the Computer Network."

Specifically, Apple has been accused of violating claim 32 in the invention, which describes "a method of computer management automatically resetting a computer to a preferred configuration by executing system configuration instructions." In this way, a system would compare a previous computer status to the current condition of the computer.

The lawsuit notes that Apple's Disk Utility feature has been available in all versions of Mac OS X since its first release. It notes that the feature can "repair functionality for automatically resetting a software application to a preferred configuration."

Found in Mac OS X, Disk Utility offers users the ability to accomplish a number of tasks, including erasing, formatting and partitioning of hard drives. it also includes Run First Aid, which can repair damaged file systems.

The original patent, granted to Robert Earl Beck and Ronald L. Schoenberger in 1998, describes a library of programs maintained on a host workstation. That workstation keeps track of activity occurring on individual workstations within a networked workgroup.



The invention also includes a file maintenance and inventory system that compares the attributes of files, directories and software located on the workstation to identify discrepancies or locate missing items throughout the workgroup.

Software Restore Solutions has asked that the court bar Apple from selling products it believes are infringing. The company also seeks damages "not less than a reasonable royalty."
post #2 of 38
Do these clowns even realize that Disk Utility is not "sold" but comes with the OS? What do they expect courts to do, ban the whole Operating System for some 13 year old Patent?

What a joke.

Software Patents are a joke. Further evidence of it. US Patent System needs a serious make-over, but nobody cares, so money is constantly wasted on Court Fees instead. Ridiculous.
post #3 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Implied View Post

Do these clowns even realize that Disk Utility is not "sold" but comes with the OS? What do they expect courts to do, ban the whole Operating System for some 13 year old Patent?.

That's what it reads like. It's not uncommon for "old" patents to be used in infringement claims. Apple has done so itself.

And yes, I agree with you that the current aggressive posture taken by several in the mobile playground is completely ridiculous.
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post #4 of 38
They patented going to a backup?
post #5 of 38
I can't believe how the law system has degraded. This is getting out of hand. What's next, the finger is patented and well all must pay or get amputations?
post #6 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

That's what it reads like. It's not uncommon for "old" patents to be used in infringement claims. Apple has done so itself.

And yes, I agree with you that the current aggressive posture taken by several in the mobile playground is completely ridiculous.

Someone should check and see if these guys are somehow related to Samsung. Might be their payback for the Galaxy stuff happening in the EU.

Besides that, who waits 10 years to cite Patent Infringement? Someone who wants cash. Duh. Should be rather obvious to the Courts, hopefully they won't waste too much time on this.
post #7 of 38
Sorry but weren't these features in OS 6, 7, 8 and 9?
These all were earlier than 1998.
Is the patent office on drugs???
post #8 of 38
I dont get it! Is the patent for compareing a stored configuration to see if there has been any changes in the GUI for the need to do something???? Can someone give it in PLAIN english?
post #9 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post

They patented going to a backup?

It sounds like they patented the unix command rdist. According to the man page, it first appeared in 4.3BSD, so I'd say there's prior art.
post #10 of 38
sorry, but at Dartmouth in 1990, networked mac plus computers performed this same functionality over a campus wide network. AND at Middlebury in the computer labs, the prefs would all be reset centrally using this method every day. What a dumb patent.
post #11 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by fh-ace View Post

Sorry but weren't these features in OS 6, 7, 8 and 9?
These all were earlier than 1998.
Is the patent office on drugs???

They go way back before that. I was backing up my system and restoring from a backup in the 80's. That's what this patent seems to cover.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
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post #12 of 38
On reading the headline I first thought of 'cfengine', which existed long before 1998.

But there is the 'mtree' tool, similar to the "Repair permissions" feature of Disk Utility, which existed in the BSD variants prior to Mac OS X anyway: it uses a configuration file or files that are read and used to reset file ownerships and permissions of system files.
post #13 of 38
didn't microsoft patent 1s and 0s a long while ago? apple must be infringing on that, too.
post #14 of 38
There should be something that says you have "X" amount of time to sue someone infringing on your patent. That aside I am sure this lawsuit can be, if you dig deep, traced back to Intellecutal Ventures I am sure !!
post #15 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

A new lawsuit takes aim at Apple, alleging that its Mac OS X operating system and its Disk Utility feature infringes on a patent related to peer-to-peer networking workgroups.

Software Restore Solutions filed the suit against Apple this week in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Apple is accused of violating U.S. Patent No. 5,832,511, entitled "Workgroup Network Manager for Controlling the Operation of Workstations Within the Computer Network."

Specifically, Apple has been accused of violating claim 32 in the invention, which describes "a method of computer management automatically resetting a computer to a preferred configuration by executing system configuration instructions." In this way, a system would compare a previous computer status to the current condition of the computer.

The lawsuit notes that Apple's Disk Utility feature has been available in all versions of Mac OS X since its first release. It notes that the feature can "repair functionality for automatically resetting a software application to a preferred configuration."

Found in Mac OS X, Disk Utility offers users the ability to accomplish a number of tasks, including erasing, formatting and partitioning of hard drives. it also includes Run First Aid, which can repair damaged file systems.

The original patent, granted to Robert Earl Beck and Ronald L. Schoenberger in 1998, describes a library of programs maintained on a host workstation. That workstation keeps track of activity occurring on individual workstations within a networked workgroup.



The invention also includes a file maintenance and inventory system that compares the attributes of files, directories and software located on the workstation to identify discrepancies or locate missing items throughout the workgroup.

Software Restore Solutions has asked that the court bar Apple from selling products it believes are infringing. The company also seeks damages "not less than a reasonable royalty."

I find that 11 years to figure out that there was some Patent infringement is just a little to long and any Judge with common sense should throw this case out as being just to long to file it. They waited until Apple had a huge bank account that they could prey on. That's why they waited and don't really care about the patent. If they did and were actually using the technology they would not have waited this long. This is a clear case of a Patent Troll out to make a quick buck, and that's all it is.
post #16 of 38
As other have pointed out, Disk Utility has had these features long before the patent inception and here we have another patent suit headed for the trash bin. What a waste of time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pooch View Post

didn't microsoft patent 1s and 0s a long while ago? apple must be infringing on that, too.

I was actually surprised it was satire.
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post #17 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by mplaisance View Post

There should be something that says you have "X" amount of time to sue someone infringing on your patent. That aside I am sure this lawsuit can be, if you dig deep, traced back to Intellecutal Ventures I am sure !!


X is of course a cpoyrighted trademark of Apple Corp Inc.
post #18 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by mplaisance View Post

There should be something that says you have "X" amount of time to sue someone infringing on your patent.

there is: X=20
post #19 of 38
Read the patent. If you know what disk utility does, you can see that it is not infringing upon this patent.

Disk utility does not repair programs or their files, and it especially doesn't do this over a network or in logically organized workgroups from a single workstation. All it does is repair file system errors and permissions for files installed by the OS X 'Installer' program (which it does by using a portion of the installer, not by keeping some integrity check.

At most, the only thing that can be construed as infringing is that might be returning the 'configuration' to an original known good state, which is a far stretch. The problem with that is that it doesn't do that... It only fixes access permissions, not the configuration, which would be plists.

The most important thing is that even if you could convince a judge that it was fixing 'configuration', it still isn't using the method that is listed, and the method is what is patented. You can't patent 'fixing something' (otherwise a lot of technicians would be about of work), you can patent the method used.
post #20 of 38
Sound like they need to go after MS with their Restore points.

Disc Utilities came on the floppy in 1991 or before my time on the Mac.

Who owns the patent for fire?
post #21 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by uuwalnut View Post

Sound like they need to go after MS with their Restore points.

Disc Utilities came on the floppy in 1991 or before my time on the Mac.

Who owns the patent for fire?

Someone got the Patent for the Toaster in 1999. The joke that approved of that patent should have gotten fired on the spot. Someone even has a Patent on the Lawn Mower.
post #22 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Apple has done so itself.

Support please. When has Apple caused suit to someone's bits that they have been using for well past ten years? And remember Disk first aid?

I will stand corrected if you can supply a documented example.

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post #23 of 38
Cloudgazer, table for one!

Seriously, I am waiting for his take on this. We may have a different viewpoint on the overall issue of patents, but he is very knowledgeable on the subject.

My take, too, was that this feature seems to have been a part of the OS for many years. What took them so long? Unless these guys are not users of the patent, but just holding company trolls, and it took this long for the patent to be sold and resold many times. Another of Intellectual Vultures shell corporations set up to sue over just one particular patent?
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post #24 of 38
"Patent holders must bring infringement actions within six years from the date of infringement; if the suit is not brought in this time limit, it is time-barred, ratifying the infringement. While patent litigation proceeds much like any other federal case, the complicated legal issues surrounding patent validity and infringement are reserved for the court's determination, although some patent litigation cases use juries for other aspects of the overall case."

http://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/pat...itigation.html
post #25 of 38
Sounds more like disk image restore than permissions/disk repair but surely there's prior art for both. It would be funny if these clowns thought they were going to walk away with a bag of royalty cash but instead got their patent invalidated.

Keep the patent laws by the way, without it us non-manufacturing countries would be bankrupt tomorrow. I wouldn't want to sacrifice our economy so we can steal a few movies.

McD
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post #26 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by mhikl View Post

Support please. When has Apple caused suit to someone's bits that they have been using for well past ten years? And remember Disk first aid?

I will stand corrected if you can supply a documented example.

Try this one asserted by Apple against Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets. Patent number: 6493002
Filing date: Mar 20, 1997

"An interactive computer-controlled display system having a processor, a data display screen, a cursor control device for interactively positioning a cursor on the data display screen, and a window generator that generates and displays a window on a data display screen. The window region provides status and control information in one or more data display areas. The individiual data display areas may be controlled through the use of controls and indicators on the control strip itself using cursor control keys"
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post #27 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by mhikl View Post

Support please. When has Apple caused suit to someone's bits that they have been using for well past ten years? And remember Disk first aid?

I will stand corrected if you can supply a documented example.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Try this one asserted by Apple against Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets. Patent number: 6493002
Filing date: Mar 20, 1997

"An interactive computer-controlled display system having a processor, a data display screen, a cursor control device for interactively positioning a cursor on the data display screen, and a window generator that generates and displays a window on a data display screen. The window region provides status and control information in one or more data display areas. The individiual data display areas may be controlled through the use of controls and indicators on the control strip itself using cursor control keys"

That was Apple's Control Strip patent. Are you saying that Samsung has been infringing that for a decade or more? On which devices?
post #28 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Try this one asserted by Apple against Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets. Patent number: 6493002
Filing date: Mar 20, 1997 ...

That wasn't the scenario he questioned and is not at all to the point.
post #29 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Try this one asserted by Apple against Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets. Patent number: 6493002
Filing date: Mar 20, 1997

It's late, Gatorguy, and I have been reading and posting madly on TMO so am sort of played out and the eyes are staying. But I will try to be clear and get it right.

Question. Who's patent is it you have mentioned? Apple's or other?

OK.

I would like to see an Apple patent that Apple got after another company had been using said patent ten or more years before Apple applied and got the patent.

Example: company XYZ has been doing 123 for ten or more years before Apple patented it. (Apple patents 123 one year ago.) Now Apple turns round and sues XYZ claiming it is violating patent 123 which it recently, one year ago, patented.

If this patent you mentions does this, then that is crappy, nay really creepy, on Apple's part and I accede. Let me know please.

Namaste,
mhikl

PS I'd even accept a somewhat shorter period of company XYZ having been using patent 123 but you'd have to supply the dates and time length please.

PPS I didn't see other chaps' posts till now but still too tired to think clearly enough to reason 'bout this till tomorrow.

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post #30 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

That was Apple's Control Strip patent. Are you saying that Samsung has been infringing that for a decade or more? On which devices?

It's probably covers every computer device in use today, handheld or otherwise, with trackballs or arrow keys for controlling the placement of a cursor in a window on the display. Apple is using it in this case against every Galaxy model whether tablet or smartphone.

At Mhaki:
You want instead some patent that Apple claims on IP that was in prior use to their application and in addition is now claimed against Samsung? That has nothing to do with what I wrote that you felt the need to challenge. I responded to this: "What do they expect courts to do, ban the whole Operating System for some 13 year old Patent?" I said that Apple has done the same themselves, using very old patents to claim infringement and attempt to ban a device.

You misunderstood what I claimed, and I misunderstood what you wanted me to "prove'. I haven't the time to do that one, and Samsung has already done that, challenging the validity of some patents Apple claims if I'm correct. And the basis is normally that the tech or procedure was already in use before the patent was granted, correct? There's likely dozens of patents controlled by Apple that could be invalidated, some on the basis of "prior art" if someone had the money, time and a reason to challenge them.
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post #31 of 38
I think for there to be patent infringement - the target of your claim should with have code that executes in exactly the same way or an interface that works in exactly the same way - for your claim to have any merit whatsoever.

I suppose that could lead to cases being argued of very subtle differences and lead someone to steal code and modify it just enough to try to avoid infringement.

But what I think is that if there is no evidence at all that the defendant in the case copied any element of your design or line of code then it is not infringement.

ANd that is perhaps part of the problem - so many of these patents seem to cover very vague general ideas - rather than specific implementations. It almost as if the folks filing the patent really have no idea how to do what they are describing as might be possible - then waiting for someone else to do the hard work of figuring out how to make an idea in to a reality - and the suing because they had a nearly identical concept years ago.

Is here any sort of statute of limitations on patents? there is on copyright and trademark, right? or at least the the extent that after a certain period of time literary works become part of the public domain and name brand drugs can be made generic. Why not the same with patents - file your patent and you had say 10 years to bring a product using the contents of that patent to market - if you don't then your idea becomes public domain and ANYONE can use it - 10 years should be enough time to raise venture capital or find a partner etc for those without the means of producing a product themselves - if you DO bright he product to market within 10 years - then you get an extension that cover 10 years from the date of first sale of the product - or something along those lines.
post #32 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

It's probably covers every computer device in use today, handheld or otherwise, with trackballs or arrow keys for controlling the placement of a cursor in a window on the display. Apple is using it in this case against every Galaxy model whether tablet or smartphone.

At Mhaki:
You want instead some patent that Apple claims on IP that was in prior use to their application and in addition is now claimed against Samsung? That has nothing to do with what I wrote that you felt the need to challenge. I responded to this: "What do they expect courts to do, ban the whole Operating System for some 13 year old Patent?" I said that Apple has done the same themselves, using very old patents to claim infringement and attempt to ban a device.

You misunderstood what I claimed, and I misunderstood what you wanted me to "prove'. I haven't the time to do that one, and Samsung has already done that, challenging the validity of some patents Apple claims if I'm correct. And the basis is normally that the tech or procedure was already in use before the patent was granted, correct? There's likely dozens of patents controlled by Apple that could be invalidated, some on the basis of "prior art" if someone had the money, time and a reason to challenge them.

I'm not sure that is correct - that patent is very specifically about opening and controlling a particular type of window to display system information. I'm not sure in what way they may believe Samsung might be infringing it on their current devices, but on the other hand, in the current patent wars these companies seem to be throwing everything they can find at each other.
post #33 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by fh-ace View Post

Sorry but weren't these features in OS 6, 7, 8 and 9?
These all were earlier than 1998.
Is the patent office on drugs???


In short, YES
post #34 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

I'm not sure that is correct - that patent is very specifically about opening and controlling a particular type of window to display system information. I'm not sure in what way they may believe Samsung might be infringing it on their current devices, but on the other hand, in the current patent wars these companies seem to be throwing everything they can find at each other.

IMHO, it's not at all specific. Very general in the way the relationship between controller and display is described. In any case it's plainly obvious that a patent applied for 14 years ago did not envision use in a touchscreen mobile environment. But Apple seems to feel it's egregious enough to warrant removal of the Galaxy devices from the marketplace.
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post #35 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

At Mhaki:. . . You misunderstood what I claimed, and I misunderstood what you wanted me to "prove'. . . .

Looks right.

I'd be surprised if Apple did what I went on to outline. I have heard accusations to the same before so had to find out if there was actually evidence to the point.

I am a huge Apple fan for I feel it is changing the world for the better, but I'm not blind to any faults. I just have problems with those who don't question and those who don't give credit. Neither does their cause any good.

Glad we could clear up the misunderstanding.

Namaste Gatorguy

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post #36 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by CMGeorge View Post

It sounds like they patented the unix command rdist. According to the man page, it first appeared in 4.3BSD, so I'd say there's prior art.

Yeah, THAT is more ludicrous than Disk utilities itself --

It sounds like it is patenting "compare a current state to a previous state" -- so it isn't just any disk repair -- it's disk repair with a "correct image" -- and I can ONLY assume that this would be checking the "permissions", because anything else is probably just a front-end to rdist and unix commands.

There might be SOME disk utility software that does this -- and even you might look at "time machine" because it compares "versions" but isn't used to repair -- but even on the face of it, I don't know what sort of "snapshot disk repair" is actually in Disk Utility...

>> My guess is this is a "fishing expedition" and they hope to either have Apple throw money at them to not bother going to court, or they hope to get a judge and court that are confused by technology. They probably timed this, to go with a "fat" Apple bank account, coupled with Numerous lawsuits -- so the "pile on" effect would make Apple quick to settle.

-- just a guess, I don't really know nor do I care except for idle sport.

What I think they haven't considered, however, is that a lot of Apple's lawyers are probably on retainer, and Apple isn't going to pay much more to squash this lawsuit -- and having been burned by legal wrangling and patent infringement before -- I think they also SET AN EXAMPLE and will fight to the end over a parking ticket.

I think Apple doesn't want to be seen as a pushover ... but who knows, maybe they did infringe something -- I just don't see how being as there is nothing that cannot be cobbled together from other UNIX utilities.
post #37 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post

I think for there to be patent infringement - the target of your claim should with have code that executes in exactly the same way or an interface that works in exactly the same way - for your claim to have any merit whatsoever.

I suppose that could lead to cases being argued of very subtle differences and lead someone to steal code and modify it just enough to try to avoid infringement.

But what I think is that if there is no evidence at all that the defendant in the case copied any element of your design or line of code then it is not infringement.

ANd that is perhaps part of the problem - so many of these patents seem to cover very vague general ideas - rather than specific implementations. It almost as if the folks filing the patent really have no idea how to do what they are describing as might be possible - then waiting for someone else to do the hard work of figuring out how to make an idea in to a reality - and the suing because they had a nearly identical concept years ago.

I disagree as coding is merely implementation or 'building'. IP law protects the far more important Design phase - the thinking before the doing. Many developers are incapable of design or even grasping what it is so to them it seems fluffy and ill-defined. Design is Apple's critical point of difference, it covers not just functionality but how it is delivered and they should have recourse to protect this essential, and generally absent, component of information technology products.
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post #38 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by fh-ace View Post

Sorry but weren't these features in OS 6, 7, 8 and 9?
These all were earlier than 1998.
Is the patent office on drugs???

They just can't know every single patent & how it might be applied. If Apple can prove prior use then they can invalidate the patent.

The problem with the patent system isn't in what you can patent but in the requirements to obtain one. In the least you should be required to present specifics to implementation so it is clear what your patent applies to. A lot of the patents that patent trolls use don't even apply to the implementation they are going after, they are just looking for anything out there that they could possibly claim uses similar technology to their patent.

An example, If I want to patent a glue for sticking little pieces of paper with notes on stuff then I should specify possible use of the glue & receive a patent on that. If someone else later uses the glue to secure pre-packaged foldable paper airplanes then that is an entirely different use than I patented. It still takes a bit of genius to think up new ways to use a product & you shouldn't be penalized just because you didn't create the glue recipe. Sorry but it seems ridiculous to me that we can patent chemical recipes, you can't patent food recipes. Besides, if you patent a recipe how precise do you need to be, what if you change an ingredient by a tiny fraction but behavior is still the same.

Patenting methods & chemical recipes to me is an engine to slow scientific growth, you are forcing people to re-invent the wheel. Patent application/implimentation, not just the recipe or idea.

Edit: this also would apply to drug patents, it's totally ridiculous that drug companies can chemically alter natural ingredients & then patent them. People think the profits will motivate further research in medicine but instead it divides us in our fight against disease because everyone is more focused on making their cure unique than making it work.
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