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Small Spanish tablet maker wins patent attack from Apple

post #1 of 85
Thread Starter 
After successfully defending itself from a patent infringement suit from Apple, a small Spanish tablet maker has turned the tables and is now suing Apple for anticompetitive behavior.

The company Nuevas Tecnologias y Energias Catala, also known as "NT-K," was accused by Apple in 2010 of copying the design of its iPad. But according to Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents, the company from the Valencia region of Spain successfully defended itself from accusations of infringing upon the design-related patent.

One of the products made by the company is the NT-K Pad A91, and Android-powered touchscreen device with a 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor, 512MB of DDR2 RAM and 4GB of internal storage. It also features Mini USB and USB 2.0 ports.

After winning the suit originally filed by Apple, NT-K can now turn its attention to its own countersuits against the iPad maker. In August, NT-K filed an antitrust complaint against Apple in Spain, accusing the company of anticompetitive behavior.

Another lawsuit filed by NT-K against Apple seeks compensation for monetary damages, lost profits and "moral damages."

Apple, in November of 2010, asked the court for a customs ban on NT-K's products, and Spanish customs began seizing shipments of the company's tablets being shipped from China. Criminal charges were also added by Apple in December of last year, but those charges were also dismissed due to a lack of "sufficient justification."



Apple is involved in a similar lawsuit against another smaller tablet maker named JAY-tech in Germany. Like NT-K, JAY-tech has also opted to defend itself in court against Apple's accusations.

Through a number of lawsuits, Apple has aggressively defended its intellectual property across the world recently, with high-profile lawsuits against Samsung, Motorola and HTC. In 2009, Nokia and Apple also filed mutual lawsuits against one another, but the two companies resolved their dispute out of court this June, with Apple agreeing to pay Nokia for licenses.
post #2 of 85
"Apple is doomed", "This is the first step in breaking the iPad monopoly", "Ha ha, Apple, you deserve it for trying to patent a rectangle"

There. All the trolling is out of the way. Can we shut up about it for just once?

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post #3 of 85
oh crap, this can't be good.
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post #4 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post

oh crap, this can't be good.

Ah, thanks. I forgot that one.

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post #5 of 85
Based on the few designs I've seen I don't agree with Apple's lawsuit against Nuevas Tecnologias y Energias Catala. Stay classy, Apple.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

"Apple is doomed", "This is the first step in breaking the iPad monopoly", "Ha ha, Apple, you deserve it for trying to patent a rectangle"

There. All the trolling is out of the way. Can we shut up about it for just once?

If only that would work Kasper's Automated Slave could just put that at the end of every article.
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post #6 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

"Apple is doomed", "This is the first step in breaking the iPad monopoly", "Ha ha, Apple, you deserve it for trying to patent a rectangle"

There. All the trolling is out of the way.

Or Apple should have just stuck to suing Asian companies in western courts.
post #7 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Based on the few designs I've seen I don't agree with Apple's lawsuit against Nuevas Tecnologias y Energias Catala. Stay classy, Apple.

I'm wondering if Cook will eventually handle these lawsuits differently than SJ.
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post #8 of 85
Always good to stand up to the big guy and win.
post #9 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post

oh crap, this can't be good.

It's neither good nor bad. It's the way the game is played.

Antitrust isn't about filing suits to defend IP. it's about using one market to advance in another that is unrelated.

This company should have received damages for the lost sales from the patent suit. Perhaps not as much as they thought they should but that's something to take up with the court and the judge. It is very likely that this new suit will be dismissed as irrelevant.

And before anyone starts bagging on Apple for the original suit, understand that they had to do it just like they have to sue Samsung. Trademark/Trade Dress protection requires that you defend against any and all even slightly possible offenders. If you don't then later when someone is pulling a bigger copy they can use "but Apple didn't do anything about them, and them, and them, oh and what about them and them. Clearly they don't really care if folks copy" and have the courts agree with the offender.

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

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post #10 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by island hermit View Post

I'm wondering if Cook will eventually handle these lawsuits differently than SJ.

I'm wondering how much of these lawsuits were Jobs at all. To me this would seem like an overly depressing and time consuming when you have more important stuff to deal with. Leave it to the lawyers to determine who to sue and why. Same goes with Samsung. While their latest moves are desperate they actions that I'd think any multi-national company respond even if knowing they won't win.
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post #11 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple, in November of 2010, asked the court for a customs ban on NT-K's products, and Spanish customs began seizing shipments of the company's tablets being shipped from China. Criminal charges were also added by Apple in December of last year, but those charges were also dismissed due to a lack of "sufficient justification."


This sort of behavior is totally sleazy.

Bullying little companies that don't even compete, much less infringe?

Criminal charges which lack sufficient justification?

What's next, hunting down and kidnapping family members of competitor's employees?


post #12 of 85
Maybe this will cause some soul-searching at Apple.
post #13 of 85
"moral damages"... Yup, sounds like a company of Fandroids
They really should just file their "socialist" FSF manifesto with the Spanish courts as proof of "moral damages". That's the subtext behind this lawsuit, some kind of moral crusade, originally started by Richard Stallman against evil greedy capitalists like Apple would seek to limit our "freedom" to copy content and ideas. That's what it's really about, isn't it? Some kind of ideological difference. The freedom, the moral right to take from Apple and profit. Who needs an industrial design staff when you can wait for Jony Ive to do the work and just do whatever he did. I hope the back of NT-K pad says "Desgined in California by Jony Ive".

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post #14 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

And before anyone starts bagging on Apple for the original suit, understand that they had to do it just like they have to sue Samsung. Trademark/Trade Dress protection requires that you defend against any and all even slightly possible offenders.



I snipped the misapprehensions concerning Trademark law.

And I point out that even if you were correct about Trademark law, Apple filed a bogus Patent Infringement claim.

There is no requirement to file bogus lawsuits in order to preserve patents.

Apple is just trying to bully little companies. They say that when you stand up to a bully, they will back down. I certainly hope that it works in this situation, and that the company which Apple victimized is fully compensated by Apple for their abuse.
post #15 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

"moral damages"... Yup, sounds like a company of Fandroids
They really should just file their "socialist" FSF manifesto with the Spanish courts as proof of "moral damages". That's the subtext behind this lawsuit, some kind of moral crusade, originally started by Richard Stallman against evil greedy capitalists like Apple would seek to limit our "freedom" to copy content and ideas. That's what it's really about, isn't it?

My guess is that the countersuit has nothing to do with the FSF.

Instead, it is a claim that Apple knowingly filed a bullshit lawsuit in order to immorally use the courts to hurt legitimate competitors, instead of competing fairly.


That type of sleazy business tactic should be proper subject matter for the courts, IMO.
post #16 of 85
It clearly IS copying the iPads lookwithout seeing the iPad, theyd never have made it look the way it does. Tablets dont HAVE to look like iPads, and not all of them do.

But its not copying nearly as closely as some. Im not surprised they lost.

And in defending patents/trade dress/etc, legally I dont think Apple CAN choose to let the little guy get away with it. They have to defend their creations from everyone. Sometimes they lose.
post #17 of 85
That 16:9 aspect ratio is very ugly on tablets. This device should be banned for being ugly.
post #18 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


Criminal charges were also added by Apple in December of last year, but those charges were also dismissed due to a lack of "sufficient justification."

I am a big supporter of Apple defending its IP, but the criminal charge went well beyond the pale.

to Apple for bullying.

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post #19 of 85
In Foss's description of the suit he notes that the spanish judge was in a community of 25,500 people, one who likely sees many world class lawsuits (sarcasm). I would think that apple might want to appeal this finding and take the suit up to a more regional or national level where the legal system is likely less related to the petitioner.
Courts can be capricious particularly when they get out of their comfort zone.
I would think that this company would have filed in the most friendly court it could find.
post #20 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

It's neither good nor bad. It's the way the game is played.

Antitrust isn't about filing suits to defend IP. it's about using one market to advance in another that is unrelated.

This company should have received damages for the lost sales from the patent suit. Perhaps not as much as they thought they should but that's something to take up with the court and the judge. It is very likely that this new suit will be dismissed as irrelevant.

The bigger problem for Apple is that this suit will be used as an example of how any iPad looking device stands on shaky grounds, including Samsung's.

I really doubt that the judge will dismiss anything here as irrelevant since Apple asked the courts to ban the product and had them seized.
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post #21 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

It clearly IS copying the iPads lookwithout seeing the iPad, theyd never have made it look the way it does. Tablets dont HAVE to look like iPads, and not all of them do.

Do you have any examples? The pics I've seen look like any other cheap Android-based tablet with no possible way it could be mistaken for an iPad.
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post #22 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

It clearly IS copying the iPads lookwithout seeing the iPad, theyd never have made it look the way it does. Tablets dont HAVE to look like iPads, and not all of them do.

But its not copying nearly as closely as some. Im not surprised they lost.

And in defending patents/trade dress/etc, legally I dont think Apple CAN choose to let the little guy get away with it. They have to defend their creations from everyone. Sometimes they lose.

And you think the Ipad was the first rectangular, black, glass screened tablet-like computer device ever? Just because something is rectangular, black, has buttons...doesn't mean it copied the iPad. There isn't much other form factor for tablets.

I'm just glad that Apple didn't create the first television. They all look exactly the same, yet I don't see Vizio/Samsung/Sony/Panazonic/etc suing each other for having similar looking products!
post #23 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I'm wondering how much of these lawsuits were Jobs at all.


Given the vindictive vitriol he has been quoted as spewing, my guess is 100%.

He claimed that he would spend $40,000,000,000.00, every penny Apple had at the time, in order to use the courts to hurt competitors.


post #24 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

"moral damages"... Yup, sounds like a company of Fandroids

Why people talk without knowing nothing about what they're talking?

Moral damages in Spanish law are asked as damages to the public image. It has nothing to do with FSF, fandroids or anything
post #25 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by applecider View Post

In Foss's description of the suit he notes that the spanish judge was in a community of 25,500 people, one who likely sees many world class lawsuits (sarcasm). I would think that apple might want to appeal this finding and take the suit up to a more regional or national level where the legal system is likely less related to the petitioner.
Courts can be capricious particularly when they get out of their comfort zone.
I would think that this company would have filed in the most friendly court it could find.

What world class suit? It has been judged where Apple has filled the complaint
post #26 of 85
Apple has an absolute right to attempt a defense of any IP rights they believe they have in a civil court. It's the filing of a criminal complaint that's particularly worrisome to me. That smacks of over-the-top bullying. According to FOSSPatents they threatened other small producers of tablets with criminal filings, and rather than fight the others rolled over. NT-K wouldn't go away quietly. Kudos to them.

Civil charges are completely understandable. Threatening to see that company owners are put in jail over criminal charges if they don't cow-tow to Apple is way beyond reasonable IMHO.

Even the normally Apple-friendly Florian has harsh words for Apple:
"Considering that this was not a case of product piracy but just a dispute over whether or not Apple has exclusive design rights covering n-tk's Andoid-based products, I think it's absolutely outrageous that Apple tried to attack its rival under criminal law. . .

I think Apple should use better judgment in the future. This story from Spain makes Apple look very bad."

http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2011...t-against.html
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post #27 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

"moral damages"... Yup, sounds like a company of Fandroids
They really should just file their "socialist" FSF manifesto with the Spanish courts as proof of "moral damages". That's the subtext behind this lawsuit, some kind of moral crusade, originally started by Richard Stallman against evil greedy capitalists like Apple would seek to limit our "freedom" to copy content and ideas. That's what it's really about, isn't it?


I've seen no evidence that this has anything to do with the FSF.

Instead, it seems to be an innocent David fighting an ugly Goliath, and winning big time.

The moral damages would be for the claim that Apple knowingly, intentionally used the courts, advancing bullshit claims in order to hurt competitors and increase Apple's profits.

I am glad that the courts will help stop this sleazy corporate abuse by mega-giants like Apple.

Apple needs to start competing fairly, and stop using bullshit lawsuits as offensive weapons. It is just plain sleazy.
post #28 of 85
Why isn't this ConradJoe (Teckstud) guy banned yet? I'd think purposely falsifying a quote in an attempt to derail a thread would be cause enough for a 2 day suspension.
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post #29 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by applecider View Post

In Foss's description of the suit he notes that the spanish judge was in a community of 25,500 people, one who likely sees many world class lawsuits (sarcasm). I would think that apple might want to appeal this finding and take the suit up to a more regional or national level where the legal system is likely less related to the petitioner.
Courts can be capricious particularly when they get out of their comfort zone.
I would think that this company would have filed in the most friendly court it could find.

And what, Apple's lawyers were too stupid to file their original suit in what they considered the friendliest venue for the suit?
post #30 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post


And in defending patents/trade dress/etc, legally I dont think Apple CAN choose to let the little guy get away with it. They have to defend their creations from everyone. Sometimes they lose.


Apple has no obligation under any legal system to file bullshit criminal claims.

They have no obligation to do that, ever.
post #31 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Why isn't this ConradJoe (Teckstud) guy banned yet? I'd think purposely falsifying a quote in an attempt to derail a thread would be cause enough for a 2 day suspension.

Or, in ConradJoe's case, 20 years.
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post #32 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Why isn't this ConradJoe (Teckstud) guy banned yet? I'd think purposely falsifying a quote in an attempt to derail a thread would be cause enough for a 2 day suspension.

Which quote are you referring to?

And why not just stick to the topic at hand, instead of sh=t-talking other posters?
post #33 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven N. View Post

Always good to stand up to the big guy and win.

Yep. I think this underscores the need for companies to closely review their law suits before spending money on them. God knows the courts are clogged with frivolous lawsuits.
post #34 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I'm wondering how much of these lawsuits were Jobs at all. To me this would seem like an overly depressing and time consuming when you have more important stuff to deal with. Leave it to the lawyers to determine who to sue and why. Same goes with Samsung. While their latest moves are desperate they actions that I'd think any multi-national company respond even if knowing they won't win.

Hard to tell. Though I can't see SJ having been directly involved his combative instinct might have directed the legal dept. Not that Cook is a push-over. But ultimately Apple's business model dictates that they must protect their IP. The one thing they can never allow is that it becomes a free-for-all where Apple innovates and everybody else copies. But the lines are blurry, and they keep moving.
post #35 of 85
I've searched the web for more (specific) information regarding exactly what criminal charges were alleged/made/asserted by Apple. Every story seems to be a rehash of the Expansión story and the EuropaPress.es article with quotes from Florian Mueller's blog thrown in for good measure. Does anyone know?
post #36 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Based on the few designs I've seen I don't agree with Apple's lawsuit against Nuevas Tecnologias y Energias Catala. Stay classy, Apple.

I tend to agree. I undestand the lawsuit against Samsung given how similar it is to the iPad. But in this case, neither the hardware nor the UI (from the picture in the story) have what I would consider to be striking resemblance to iPad/iOS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I'm wondering how much of these lawsuits were Jobs at all. To me this would seem like an overly depressing and time consuming when you have more important stuff to deal with. Leave it to the lawyers to determine who to sue and why. Same goes with Samsung. While their latest moves are desperate they actions that I'd think any multi-national company respond even if knowing they won't win.

Given is statements to his biographer, I suspect Jobs was pushing for these lawsuits. The strategy seems clear... They go after Samsung because of what appears to be blatent copying. Then also go after a smattering of smaller companies who you think you can crush in court to establish precedent in multiple jurisdictions which you can leverage in arguing future cases.
post #37 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

Given is statements to his biographer, I suspect Jobs was pushing for these lawsuits. The strategy seems clear... They go after Samsung because of what appears to be blatent copying. Then also go after a smattering of smaller companies who you think you can crush in court to establish precedent in multiple jurisdictions which you can leverage in arguing future cases.

That makes sense from a strategical standpoint, but I can't say I agree with killing off small fish that aren't blatantly copying. If that is the case then I'm glad Apple has lost this round against NT-K.
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post #38 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

That makes sense from a strategical standpoint, but I can't say I agree with killing off small fish that aren't blatantly copying. If that is the case then I'm glad Apple has lost this round against NT-K.

I see this as low risk experimental suing - if they loose and get countersued the risks are not that huge, though of course others can use the case as precedent. If they win however, it is another small victory that in the end can become part of an intimidating threat against larger entities.

All at the expense of the smaller companies which unfortunately makes it look like bullying.
post #39 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I'm wondering how much of these lawsuits were Jobs at all.

Did you not read his biography?
post #40 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacksons View Post

Did you not read his biography?

I'm only one-third through. Can you give us an index term or a general section of the book?
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