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Swiss company seeks iPhone, Apple TV ban over alleged patent infringement

post #1 of 35
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Small Switzerland-based technology company SmartData looks to ban sales of the iPhone and Apple TV, claiming that when the devices are used together via Apple's Remote app, the combination infringes on the firm's "modular computer" patent.

Despite not conducting business in the region, SmartData officially filed a complaint against Apple in the Northern District Court of California on Monday, alleging that the Cupertino, Calif., company infringed on a "wireless computing technology" patent dubbed "Zukero."

The Swiss company's "modular computer" patent (U.S. Patent Number 7,158,757), filed for in 2001 and issued one week before Apple unveiled its Apple TV in 2007, describes a wireless system consisting of three separate elements: a "pocket-sized" central unit that can store data and execute programs, a second data input device with wirelessly connectivity that holds an interface for communication with a remote network and a third element that is a television screen.

According to the firm's website, as of 2008 the company has been granted patents for Zukero in the U.S., China and Europe.

SmartData claims in the filing that Apple willfully infringed on the invention as the company contacted Apple in July, 2004 regarding patent application, and reportedly negotiated a potential licensing agreement until mid-2006.

Apple allegedly ceased communication with the Swiss company and failed to answer two subsequent licensing offers in 2006 and 2007.


Illustration of SmartData's Zukero "modular computer" patent. | Source: SmartData


In the filing, it is claimed that Apple "was clearly aware of the '757 Patent" when the accused products were developed and released.

SmartData vs. Apple(function() { var scribd = document.createElement("script"); scribd.type = "text/javascript"; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = "http://www.scribd.com/javascripts/embed_code/inject.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();


In the suit, SmartData is asking for damages, a permanent ban on the infringing products and a trial.

The small tech company is not in the business of making devices, but is instead a research and development firm that is currently shopping around its Zukero patent, which appears to be the company's only product.

[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 35
Where's Apple][ to say bring on the lawsuits, he wants to see more of them?

I'm kidding of course. . .

How many patent suit articles posted on AI today?
Too many.
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post #3 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Where's Apple][ to say bring on the lawsuits, he wants to see more of them?

I'm kidding of course. . .

How many patent suit articles posted on AI today?
Too many.

Its the Global thermonuclear war SJ wanted. Sue everyone and everyone sues you.

Guess SJ did not see war games.

How about a nice game of chess?
post #4 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Where's Apple][ to say bring on the lawsuits, he wants to see more of them?

Sure, I don't change my tune just because somebody is suing Apple, and not the other way around.

Huge companies get hit with lawsuits all of the time. That's part of doing business. I'm sure that Apple can afford to pay for their lawyer teams.

If this suit has any merit, then good for them, if not, then too bad for them.

Apple is sitting on how much cash now? 100 billion or something?

All sorts of characters are going to emerge from under their rocks and try to take advantage of others who have a pile of money.

It's like when somebody wins big in Lotto and all of a sudden creepy relatives that they haven't seen in decades show up at their door and friends who aren't even close to you will all of a sudden become real friendly, because they're all a bunch of greedy vultures looking to cash in.
post #5 of 35
Perhaps Apple saw this "patent" as being invalid due to prior art. Sounds just like Tivo, or even a DVR that incorporates TV Guide functionality. All use a wireless handheld remote, etc. etc.
post #6 of 35
UHaul better stick to moving vans: I am going to sue them over their trailers, for deliberately infringing on my idea for a modular vehicle.
post #7 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

SmartData claims in the filing that Apple willfully infringed on the invention as the company contacted Apple in July, 2004 regarding patent application, and reportedly negotiated a potential licensing agreement until mid-2006.

Apple allegedly ceased communication with the Swiss company and failed to answer two subsequent licensing offers in 2006 and 2007.


That pattern of behavior sounds increasingly like standard operating procedure.
post #8 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

Sure, I don't change my tune just because somebody is suing Apple, and not the other way around.

Huge companies get hit with lawsuits all of the time. That's part of doing business. I'm sure that Apple can afford to pay for their lawyer teams.

If this suit has any merit, then good for them, if not, then too bad for them.

Apple is sitting on how much cash now? 100 billion or something?

All sorts of characters are going to emerge from under their rocks and try to take advantage of others who have a pile of money.

It's like when somebody wins big in Lotto and all of a sudden creepy relatives that they haven't seen in decades show up at their door and friends who aren't even close to you will all of a sudden become real friendly, because they're all a bunch of greedy vultures looking to cash in.

F'in A.
post #9 of 35
I thought you had to have an actual product to be able to own a patent on the idea...
post #10 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by alienzed View Post

I thought you had to have an actual product to be able to own a patent on the idea...

Not at all, BUT if someone brings to market something that you've patented, it has been, oh, what, about ten years since you got the patent, AND you've done absolutely nothing with it, good luck getting it protected.

In many cases, you do have to show proof of use of a patent for it to be protected, but it's a case by case basis for that determination.

Apple has (had, I guess. It certainly has been a while) a patent for an all-in-one Mac (like the old all in one Performas!) with speakers built in. It's basically a pre-G3 iMac design. It can be said that nothing came of that patent design, and so had some company built something close to what it was, it's likely Apple couldn't protect it. But elements from it do show up in the real G3 iMac, so in a case where a patent can be shown to have directly influenced a product (even if it's not directly included or implemented), the line gets blurrier.

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post #11 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Just_Me View Post

Its the Global thermonuclear war SJ wanted. Sue everyone and everyone sues you.

Guess SJ did not see war games.

Guess you don't know business. Where there's money, attorneys flock.
post #12 of 35
I haven't studied patent law since law school, so my knowledge is quite old. But, it does seem to me that there seems to be patents granted that are no more than the kind of ideas we typically through around after work at a local bar. They are obvious, and certainly cannot be characterized as being a patentable idea.

Programming and design to solve problems are always creative, but none are so unusual that they should be patentable. But the reality of the current interpretation of patent law seems to make these typically and not unusual creative solutions protectable.
post #13 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The Swiss company's "modular computer" patent (U.S. Patent Number 7,158,757), filed for in 2001 and issued one week before Apple unveiled its Apple TV in 2007, describes a wireless system consisting of three separate elements: a "pocket-sized" central unit that can store data and execute programs, a second data input device with wirelessly connectivity that holds an interface for communication with a remote network and a third element that is a television screen.

Would the fact that the Apple TV does not store data make a difference here?
post #14 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Just_Me View Post

Its the Global thermonuclear war SJ wanted. Sue everyone and everyone sues you.

Guess SJ did not see war games.

How about a nice game of chess?

Everyone mother's son has been suing Apple whenever they think they can profit from it ask goog the mother of all hiprocrates.
post #15 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Just_Me View Post

How about a nice game of chess?

Sorry Chess is patented and "How about a nice game of chess?" is Copyright and Trademark... We're suinggggggg!!!

Let's see patent filed for in 2001 and issued just before AppleTV and iPhone in 2007... Okay... 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011? And you're just now filing the lawsuit?
/
/
/

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post #16 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

Would the fact that the Apple TV does not store data make a difference here?

Bingo. They may get some money from Apple for the original ATV though. However, if this is valid, then wouldn't companies like Roku also be in violation? Or any of the other ATV copycats?
post #17 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

Would the fact that the Apple TV does not store data make a difference here?

Actually it does store data pertaining to the OS and it's operation does it not? Perhaps not shows, movies or other programming but that's not the claim in the patent, at least what AI posted of it.

EDIT: Damn, I got sucked in anyway.
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post #18 of 35
So, in their own patent filing, smart data shoots down this lawsuit. I wasn't aware the newer apple tvs had a hard drive or flash storage...

But one interesting question does pop up... Why doesn't smart data go after cable companies and anyone else with a dvr/smart remote control combo.

In essence, that's all they can go after apple for. And even then they can't. Since apple doesn't sell this combo.

What next? Logitech has to stop making cool and super expensive remotes, because it manipulates data...

And in essence, apple doesn't sell the iPhone as a controller. It's a computer/phone. If a consumer loads a remote control app, that's on them.

There should be consequences for filing stupid lawsuits in hopes of getting a lazy judge
post #19 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac.World View Post

Bingo. They may get some money from Apple for the original ATV though. However, if this is valid, then wouldn't companies like Roku also be in violation? Or any of the other ATV copycats?

Yes. Their argument is that they "talked" with Apple about it. If it can be proven willful infringement, the awards are much greater.

First of all, you can't patent an idea, you patent the process, procedure and implementation of that idea. I think a lot of people don't understand that and assume the entire patent is just the idea presented. For instance, I can't patent the idea of splitting hydrogen from oxygen in water molecules, but I can patent the process of how I do it. Everyone is free to attempt to make their own proverbial mousetrap, patents are only to protect you from someone else copying your design and profiting from it.

Apple's Remote app may "do" the same thing but also may do it in a different way. That's basically all Apple has to prove. These software infringement cases usually end up in court because, it is virtually impossible to get a company to hand over code to an accuser. So you have to get the courts to force it and compare.
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post #20 of 35
Speaking of patents war, Samsung just came out with a smart TV made of a combination of all the Apple TV leaks out there. From Siri to kinect.

I smell a patent war coming
post #21 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by herbapou View Post

Speaking of patents war, Samsung just came out with a smart TV made of a combination of all the Apple TV leaks out there. From Siri to kinect.

I smell a patent war coming

And KT in South Korea is blocking the Samsung SmartTVs from accessing their network claiming it spikes their network 265x their normal load... or something to that effect.

edit: I was close enough: http://www.theverge.com/2012/2/10/27...-network-block

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post #22 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

And KT in South Korea is blocking the Samsung SmartTVs from accessing their network claiming it spikes their network 265x their normal load... or something to that effect.

edit: I was close enough: http://www.theverge.com/2012/2/10/27...-network-block

The Actual claim is "that high adoption rates of smart TVs could cause network speeds to become 265 times slower, and it urged TV makers to pay for the cost of network use."

Sounds like they want Samsung in particular, LG and other smart TV manufacturers to pay to improve KT's infrastrusture. Well geesh, shouldn't Apple and the other smartphone companies pay ATT and Verizon to improve theirs too? In fact Sprint could use a lot of help. Why stop with Korea.
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post #23 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Just_Me View Post

Its the Global thermonuclear war SJ wanted. Sue everyone and everyone sues you.

Guess SJ did not see war games.

How about a nice game of chess?

What you are referring to is called a countersuit. This is not a countersuit.

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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #24 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Just_Me View Post

Its the Global thermonuclear war SJ wanted. Sue everyone and everyone sues you.

Guess SJ did not see war games.

How about a nice game of chess?

Your statement misconstrues Apple's (and previously Steven Jobs') assertions in this respect in about as few words as possible - congratulations.
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post #25 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by alienzed View Post

I thought you had to have an actual product to be able to own a patent on the idea...

Nope. You can patent an idea.

HOWEVER, if it is just an idea then a company that actually figures out how to make it real, particularly when using tech they hold patents on themselves, they have about 10 different ways to counter the patent of just the idea. Their own prior art is one, prior art in general is another. Vast improvement such that they have created an item that is worthy of a patent itself is yet another. and so on
post #26 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Just_Me View Post

Its the Global thermonuclear war SJ wanted. Sue everyone and everyone sues you.

Except that that isn't exactly what he said. It wasn't "Sue Everyone" but rather only the Everyone that is trying to use Apple patents without permission (unlike Samsung and Motorola who are suing over patents they agreed to enter as part of a 'standard' and thus follow FRAND rules)
post #27 of 35
Haven't read the whole damned patent, but it sounds like there must be about a few thousand prior art examples.
post #28 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

And KT in South Korea is blocking the Samsung SmartTVs from accessing their network claiming it spikes their network 265x their normal load... or something to that effect.

edit: I was close enough: http://www.theverge.com/2012/2/10/27...-network-block

What's the definition of 'slow' in South Korea? 10Gbps?
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post #29 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Just_Me View Post

Its the Global thermonuclear war SJ wanted. Sue everyone and everyone sues you.

Guess SJ did not see war games.

How about a nice game of chess?

Well, the benchmark has been set now, hasn't it?

If you can sue on FRAND, why not give anything a crack?
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post #30 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

Nope. You can patent an idea.

HOWEVER, if it is just an idea then a company that actually figures out how to make it real, particularly when using tech they hold patents on themselves, they have about 10 different ways to counter the patent of just the idea. Their own prior art is one, prior art in general is another. Vast improvement such that they have created an item that is worthy of a patent itself is yet another. and so on

What you can patent is an implementation of an idea, not the idea itself.
post #31 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

What you can patent is an implementation of an idea, not the idea itself.

with enough and/or's you can patent an idea.

Hence how Samsung, Google, and microsoft all somehow MAY violate Apple's slide to unlock patent (as the OSes are today) despite the implementations being different.

The and/or language allows everything to be covered...essentially patenting an idea.
post #32 of 35
As a full time resident of Switzerland, I'd just like to say "fuck you SmartData" if I can't get my next iPhone.
post #33 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by robogobo View Post

As a full time resident of Switzerland, I'd just like to say "fuck you SmartData" if I can't get my next iPhone.

Likely Germans are saying the same thing to Apple about their next Samsung products.
post #34 of 35
I'm a swiss citizen and i never heard about such company and just go on their web site, there is absolutely nothing....

I agree to defend the innovation or the concepts you invent but for this one just let me laugth

I'm just curious to know if there is any devices or "live" product currently beeing used somewhere....

Really if they mess up like in Germany and i can't get my next Iphone or Ipad 3 I cann't tell what i wouold do and this will make the worst advertisement for that company which apparently is selling nothing except concepts...

Hey i have a concept also : Refresh your flash animation, today it's smartphone era, nokia 3200 is over
post #35 of 35
Assuming that this patent isn't invalid for prior art (as this does sound like every remote controlled DVR box made in the last two decades). Then good for them.

I hate pointless and or unethical patent litigation, but that doesn't mean that I think Apple should get away with stealing anyone else's intellectual property.
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