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Apple sued by 'patent troll' over Numbers software - Page 2

post #41 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by sip View Post

Most definitely a troll...... I think these guys got their companies mixed-up: that drawing looks more like the original Excel than Numbers. In fact, the only similarity with any Apple product is that it looks more Mac OS 6-ish than it does Windows. Apple should sue this company for copying Apple's IP.

Definitely not Mac OS 6-ish. Thats Windows 3.xx.

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post #42 of 75
Wonder how many of the items they are sueing for can be traced back to programs like Resolve or Wingz?
post #43 of 75

I don't know what is wrong with some people here. To call someone a patent troll does not mean, that the patent is illegal or unrightfully theirs. Maybe they should educate themselves first!

post #44 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post


So if some idiot scribbles an idea on a napkin like this:



You say they shouldn't be granted a patent?

I agree. {snigger}

You know that old saying - live by the sword, die by the sword.  The trouble with iFans is that they seem to think the entire patent system should operate only for the benefit of Apple and no one else.

So we should throw out the entire patent system because you don't understand how it works? That's just silly. Maybe you should start by learning how the patent system works. In particular, pay attention to the difference between utility patents and design patents.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TimA View Post

Wonder how many of the items they are sueing for can be traced back to programs like Resolve or Wingz?
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

One of my favorite parts of the NeXT Legacy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quattro_Pro

Borland visited NeXT and was privy to early versions of Lotus Improv on NeXTStep which of course they lavishly copied and Lotus sued the crap out of them. Lotus was able to make Improv only on NeXTStep because of the NeXT Object Model that resides in OS X. Both Lotus and Borland designed their paradigms around already patented IP.

This one will be fun to watch for legacy buffs.

As with any patent suit, Apple will have the chance to try to have the patent voided due to prior art.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Waverunnr View Post

Thank you. You've just described the problem with the patent system. If you create a patent for the sole purpose of suing other people instead of making the product yourself, then you deserve to have your patent revoked. Period. End of discussion.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/441/when-patents-attack

Sorry, but that's a ridiculous viewpoint.

People invent technology with the purpose of benefiting from doing so. If you can't benefit from your inventions, why bother? Not everyone wants to make a product. Not everyone CAN make a product. If I invent a better process for etching silicon wafers, I would require something like $10,000,000,000 in order to get into the CPU manufacturing business (and that's probably on the low side). Do you have that kind of money lying around? If I had to make a product in order to protect my property, there would be zero incentive to invent a new process. Furthermore, some people are good inventors, but lousy businessmen. Why should they be forced to commercialize the product if someone is willing to pay them for their inventions and then do a much better job of marketing the product?
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post #45 of 75
I have had many "brain flashes" of ideas. Could I build them or write them, no. Did I bring them to marketable products, no. Anyone can get a patent, but few can create a really useful or marketable product. Unless someone sets out to steal my ideas and market or use them internally without some extra reward or compensation to me, I don't think they have done wrong. Some People are always tring to make a fast buck ($) by stealing. Even many non-religious people have a degree of ethics. There are a few who want to profit from the actual work of others. This is a matter of ethics & morality. Weather it is a purse found by a empty park bench or software code does not make it right to steal. An idea on a napkin is not the same as a purse or actual code. Most of us have wallets, purses, or some tangible object such as code. To take these things via deception is wrong. To steal a napkin with an idea is wrong, but if you have a "brain flash" or want to create your own spreadsheet is not wrong. Mouse traps have improved over the years. Right now the iPad and iOS6 are hot marketable items. If Microsoft chooses to build a better mouse trap, that is not wrong. Apple is doing what they can, as is Microsoft. These are successful companies in their own right. Making the world a better place, but not at the expense of others is commendable, but not at stockholder expense. If an owner wants to spend his money to benefit others or throw it out the window, that is their business. Government has no money and should serve at the pleasure of the people, not for the pleasure of the elected. It does not take a large government to give money away and it is not theirs to give away or redistribute.

Here are a few comments on several things - patent trolls are like catfish, bottom feeding scum suckers that will eat anything they can digest. May they and their parasite attorneys get their just rewards, but not at the expense of others who have earned it.
post #46 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post


While yes they might have a valid legal issue, that they waited 5 yrs to protect their IP, until a time when Apple has way more money than back then, still makes them trolls. And that's just with Apple. Excel would fit the vague details of this patent and was out way before Numbers. So where is their law suit
Patent laws need to have the same 'clearly you don't give a shit' type rules as trademarks. Protect from day one or give it up.
And your example is horribly not even close.

 

What you know is that they filed a suit right now. You don't know how long it took for them to become aware of the application or investigate it. Beyond that you may have had communication between the two companies. This did not necessarily sit in stasis. You only here about it when it progresses to the point of litigation. Trademarks are totally different. They are not something that is typically licensed out as you would with IP. You're just completely off base here.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sip View Post

Most definitely a troll...... I think these guys got their companies mixed-up: that drawing looks more like the original Excel than Numbers. In fact, the only similarity with any Apple product is that it looks more Mac OS 6-ish than it does Windows. Apple should sue this company for copying Apple's IP.


You misinterpreted the nature of the article. This isn't necessarily a design patent. It doesn't matter how it looks. The cited IP relates to how it works. The styling is something that's included for reference, but you're not looking at an entire claim in the form of an illustration. If you want to read the whole thing, look for the words "what is claimed is". I'm not exactly an expert on this, but some of the opinions on this thread are based on extremely levels of misinterpretation or unverified assumptions.

post #47 of 75

I'm with jragosta and wizard69 on this one.  Tarring firms with the overused "patent troll" brush is silly and misleading.

 

"patent trolling" is nothing more or less than "intellectual property arbitrage."  That is, some firms are in the business of acquiring IP assets that are undervalued and then generating revenue from them.  In many cases, the original owner/creator of that patent is not in a position to make use of it and is unable or uninterested in doing the work of finding licensees for the patent.  Someone else steps in and does that.

 

I don't have a problem with that part at all.  It's no different from me selling you land I no longer have an interest in developing and you develop it.  Or perhaps because I'm not a real estate developer land I inherit that I don't develop should be given to the first random squatter than comes along and build on it?  Is that what people mean when they say they hate patent trolls?

 

The problems with the system are:

1. patents being granted for vague, obvious things that do more to hinder innovation then encourage it.

2. courts/juries that make poor decisions when faced with adjudicating IP cases (in many, most?, cases because a layman has no business trying to try such cases).

3. when intellectual property arbitrage specialists use thuggish, gotcha tactics to generate revenue from their patents.  If I were to use the term patent troll at all, it would be for this subset of firms that use these tactics.  For example, rather than reaching out to a company as soon as they identify a possible patent infringement and offering to license their IP, they watch and wait for years until the product becomes successful and thing spring forth asking for big bucks.  THAT's what I find unfair.  If you know I'm doing something wrong, and you a) don't tell me about it and b) don't do anything about it, then you are choosing to give up some of your rights to sue me later.  At least that's how it should be.  In the least you shouldn't be able to get compensation for that period when I was using your IP with your knowledge and your implicit consent (as evidenced by your complete inaction).

post #48 of 75
East Texas is the best place in the world for patent trolls; all you need to be successful is to promise the judge/jury money. I often wonder how much the judges and juries make from the patent troll lawsuits. Do the judges/juries get a percentage of the award or a flat fee?
post #49 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Well in their case they forgot to file for a patent at all.

OMG, seriously? Did they shoot themselves?
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post #50 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spacepower View Post

I just want to know, did Borland make that old Apple II Plus game Loadrunner?
If so could they bring it to iOS? I'd pay for it.

It was Loderunner, not loadrunner.

 

Awesome game, two colours black and white, and Daleks, lots of daleks.

 

Used to play it on my Mac Plus.

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post #51 of 75

Patents just cause harm to small developers, but it's totally harmless to big companies. The patents game is the game they play. So don't call it "patent troll", it's just another game in the season, and they're well fitted to play it. So, I'd say "good move" to the business who started this, and "now it's your turn" to Apple. Yes, it's a boring game, though.

post #52 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post

It was Loderunner, not loadrunner.

 

Awesome game, two colours black and white, and Daleks, lots of daleks.

 

Used to play it on my Mac Plus.

Actually Lode Runner (2 words) by a company called Brøderbund not Borland. There was a color version and even an Xbox version. 

post #53 of 75

See the true definition of a patent troll guys?

 

 


Tim Cook using Galaxy Tabs as frisbees

 

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Tim Cook using Galaxy Tabs as frisbees

 

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post #54 of 75
Yea, total patent trolls. If I was Apple I'd just tie these tools up in court for two years until the patent expires.
post #55 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Well in their case they forgot to file for a patent at all.


Not quite ...

 

Full story is here: http://www.bricklin.com/patenting.htm ... but here's a snippet:

 

Quote:
However, in 1979, when VisiCalc was shown to the public for the first time, patents for software inventions were infrequently granted. Programs were thought to be mere mathematical algorithms, and mathematical algorithms, as laws of nature, were not patentable. The publishers of VisiCalc, Personal Software (their name at the time -- later renamed VisiCorp), retained a patent attorney who met with executives from Software Arts and Personal Software. The patent attorney explained to us the difficulty of obtaining a patent on software, and estimated a 10% chance of success, even using various techniques for hiding the fact that it was really software (such as proposing it as a machine). Given such advice, and the costs involved, we decided not to pursue a patent.
post #56 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhende7 View Post

Yea, total patent trolls. If I was Apple I'd just tie these tools up in court for two years until the patent expires.


OK. Now that you've demonstrated that you don't have any clue how the system works, you can go back to your corner.

Even if the court case drags out, they can collect damages retroactively. Dragging it out doesn't reduce Apple's potential damages.
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post #57 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Will you stop with the silly patent troll nonsense?
The rightful owner of a patent has the right to enforce it whether they are using it or not.
It's like this. Let's say that you inherit a factory from your parents that was used to make widgets and includes all the equipment you need to manufacture widgets. You don't want to make widgets, so you sell the factory to a real estate investor who will then rent it to someone who wants to make widgets.
Does the fact that you don't make widgets mean that someone else can just move in and start using your factory without permission? Does the fact that the real estate investor doesn't want to make widgets mean that anyone can move in without permission and start making widgets? So why should patents be any different? There is absolutely no requirement in US patent law (or any other country that I know of) that only allows you to enforce a patent if you are using it.

Exactly!  good Analogy.

post #58 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTBuzz View Post

This has gotten to be ridiculous.

You failed to state what is ridiculous.  I don't see anything ridiculous about it.  Apple might be infringing a patent and someone sued them to ask the court to determine infringement.  Why is that ridiculous.  Apple knows that when it sells products it might be infringing patents, which is why it has a team of lawyers and outside counsel to determine the best way for the company to deal with the patent and/or Apple's infringement.

 

What is ridiculous is for the media and ignorant techies to think that high tech companies shouldn't have to deal with potential patent infringement. 

post #59 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTBuzz View Post

I have had many "brain flashes" of ideas. Could I build them or write them, no. Did I bring them to marketable products, no. Anyone can get a patent, but few can create a really useful or marketable product. Unless someone sets out to steal my ideas and market or use them internally without some extra reward or compensation to me, I don't think they have done wrong. Some People are always tring to make a fast buck ($) by stealing. Even many non-religious people have a degree of ethics. There are a few who want to profit from the actual work of others. This is a matter of ethics & morality. Weather it is a purse found by a empty park bench or software code does not make it right to steal. An idea on a napkin is not the same as a purse or actual code. Most of us have wallets, purses, or some tangible object such as code. To take these things via deception is wrong. To steal a napkin with an idea is wrong, but if you have a "brain flash" or want to create your own spreadsheet is not wrong. Mouse traps have improved over the years. Right now the iPad and iOS6 are hot marketable items. If Microsoft chooses to build a better mouse trap, that is not wrong. Apple is doing what they can, as is Microsoft. These are successful companies in their own right. Making the world a better place, but not at the expense of others is commendable, but not at stockholder expense. If an owner wants to spend his money to benefit others or throw it out the window, that is their business. Government has no money and should serve at the pleasure of the people, not for the pleasure of the elected. It does not take a large government to give money away and it is not theirs to give away or redistribute.
Here are a few comments on several things - patent trolls are like catfish, bottom feeding scum suckers that will eat anything they can digest. May they and their parasite attorneys get their just rewards, but not at the expense of others who have earned it.

Your wrong. In order to get a patent, you have to enable someone to make and use the invention.  See 35 U.S.C. section 112.  

Secondly, engineers come up with ideas all the time that they can describe how they want it to work but don't actually have the skill to "code it up."  That was probably true for many of the invention Steve Jobs made.  The fact that someone doesn't write code doesn't mean they can't conceive of the functionality that make a product work better.  The patent system grants patents to the people that conceive of the invention, not the people that manufacture or sell it. And for good reason.  Building the factory and sales team to sell a product doesn't do any good if you don't have a product to make and sell.

post #60 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

The original concept of the patent was to protect the creative output of the individual. If they would just return to that ideal, none of this patent troll stuff would be possible at all because the people who invented this stuff are either all dead or have already been suitably compensated.
It's the (ridiculous) concept that you can somehow buy and sell ideas that's really at fault here just as it's the ridiculous concept that corporations are somehow "people" that causes all the worst abuses of capitalism.
All these problems would disappear overnight if we just changed our point of view.
Just sayin. :-)

What you suggest would ruin the patent system.  If someone created something and didn't have the resources or market position to manufacture or sell their creation, they would be left empty handed.  And obviously they would stop creating.  

Your suggestion is like saying we shouldn't let authors sell the rights to their books to movie producers.  Instead, let's force the authors to make the movies themselves. After all, author rights are to individuals. (in fact author rights come from the same clause of the U.S. constitution as inventor rights). 

post #61 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


OMG, seriously? Did they shoot themselves?

Was VisiCalc patentable over the prior art?  If so, in what way?  Just because VisiCalc predates Excel doesn't mean there were features of VisiCalc that were patentable.  You would have to know what the prior art was at the time VisiCalc was created and then determine that VisiCalc included features that were not in the prior art.    

Obviously the features claimed in this Apple lawsuit are not found in VisiCalc or it wouldn't be patentable. 

post #62 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Will you stop with the silly patent troll nonsense?
The rightful owner of a patent has the right to enforce it whether they are using it or not. ...

 

Without commenting on the current case, due to lack of knowledge of the specifics....

 

Patents are granted for a very specific purpose, to incentivize innovation. Companies that collect patents for no purpose other than to wait until someone produces something they can cash in on pervert that purpose. They do have the legal right to sue under current patent law, but that doesn't make them any less patent trolls. The two concepts are not mutually exclusive.

 

So, the concept of a patent troll is entirely valid and points out what is probably the main problem with current patent law: that it allows this sort of gaming the system that siphons money from companies that are innovating to companies that have no intention of innovating, which is contrary to the purpose of the law, as laid out in the US Constitution.

post #63 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Well in their case they forgot to file for a patent at all.

OMG, seriously? Did they shoot themselves?

Nope. Steve actually bumped into them the night before he was on AllThingsD in 2009(?). Also, please read newcomer "duervo" post #55

As I recall, there was some 'issue' between those guys and MS back in the day, and the judge made MS only use the term 'Microsoft Excel' instead of simply Excel.
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post #64 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

The original concept of the patent was to protect the creative output of the individual. ...

 

That was actually more the idea behind copyrights.

post #65 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Without commenting on the current case, due to lack of knowledge of the specifics....

Patents are granted for a very specific purpose, to incentivize innovation. Companies that collect patents for no purpose other than to wait until someone produces something they can cash in on pervert that purpose. They do have the legal right to sue under current patent law, but that doesn't make them any less patent trolls. The two concepts are not mutually exclusive.

Not at all accurate.

Patent arbitrage (what you are calling 'patent trolls') serve a very important role in incentivizing innovation. Without the ability for someone to buy and resell or license patents, the small inventor would be left out in the cold. There'd be no way for most inventors to ever benefit from their inventions because most people can't/won't start a company to commercialize their inventions.

Either you believe in a free market or you don't. It's that simple. If you believe in a free market, then the owner of an invention should be able to sell it to anyone they wish and the new owner can do whatever he wants with it. THAT is the best way to benefit society in the long run.
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post #66 of 75
I believe this patent has exactly zero chance of succeeding. Let me illustrate why, in depth.

Start with the patent. Recall that a patent's legal force is basically equivalent to its Claims. Those start here:

http://www.google.com/patents/US5463724?pg=PA49

Read the claims. They fall into two basic groups. The vast majority of the claims cover the existence, visual display and manipulation of a tabbed spreadsheet display. The only claims that do not apply to the tabs themselves are 10 and 11, which refer to how the data in those tabs is referred to in other cells. The long and short is that Quattro patented the idea of having a workbook with multiple sheets.

Numbers does not have tabs. It has sheets, but they are very different than those in Quattro, and you don't refer to them directly. Instead, you can place multiple *tables* anywhere you want - on a sheet, on a canvas, or anywhere you want. Numbers is utterly different than what this patent encodes.

That leaves claims 10 and 11. These deal with the *referencing* of the data, and specifically states you do this with a colon. Numbers uses a double colon. They got it from Excel, which I suspect make this change specifically to bypass this patent.

As if that were not enough, also recall the whole concept of "prior art". There are multiple examples of this system in use prior to Quattro:

http://books.google.ca/books?id=jE2OlZ9PkrkC&pg=PA141

Thus the patent can only stand on those parts that are specific to Quattro, as the general concept was already in use. If those portions don't fail due to the obvious test, then they certainly aren't applicable to Numbers, which looks and works in an entirely different fashion.

Good luck, troll.
post #67 of 75

Either you believe in a free market or you don't. It's that simple. If you believe in a free market, then the owner of an invention should be able to sell it to anyone they wish and the new owner can do whatever he wants with it. THAT is the best way to benefit society in the long run.

You're arguing for a free market and invoking enforced monopolies to support it?!

 

Good to see your sophistry has improved so greatly in the last 15 years.

post #68 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


Not at all accurate.
Patent arbitrage (what you are calling 'patent trolls') serve a very important role in incentivizing innovation. Without the ability for someone to buy and resell or license patents, the small inventor would be left out in the cold. There'd be no way for most inventors to ever benefit from their inventions because most people can't/won't start a company to commercialize their inventions.
Either you believe in a free market or you don't. It's that simple. If you believe in a free market, then the owner of an invention should be able to sell it to anyone they wish and the new owner can do whatever he wants with it. THAT is the best way to benefit society in the long run.

 

The "Free Market" and the "Invisible Hand" are the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy of economics, so no, I don't, "believe in them." But, you contradict yourself. If it were in fact a "Free Market", there would be no patents at all. The only reason there are patents is because it was believed that the so-called "Free Market" wasn't perfect and that a slightly less free market was a better system to promote innovation. Let's call the "patent arbitrage" market what it mostly has become, the patent trolling market.

 

So, do you want a free market, or do you want patents? You can't have both.

post #69 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post


The trouble with iFans is that they seem to think the entire patent system should operate only for the benefit of Apple and no one else.

 

You couldn't say it any better.

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post #70 of 75
We need to return to the old patent standard that someone must actually create an example of the new product, at least in prototype form. Otherwise you are going get the descendants of Jules Verne or H.G. Wells claiming patent infringement on things like lasers, rockets, and nuclear submarines.
post #71 of 75
Originally Posted by mocseg View Post
You couldn't say it any better.

 

Well, he could be telling the truth and not being a troll. That would be better.

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post #72 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjcampbell View Post

We need to return to the old patent standard that someone must actually create an example of the new product, at least in prototype form. Otherwise you are going get the descendants of Jules Verne or H.G. Wells claiming patent infringement on things like lasers, rockets, and nuclear submarines.

Patent law requires reduction to practice. You are right that that requirement seems to have been forgotten recently.

But we don't have to worry about Jules Verne's grandkids. Public disclosure would eliminate the chance to get a patent.
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post #73 of 75

I was using spreadsheets long before the 1995 patent was issued that had all the features described in the patent.

 

In the USA, a patent is not supposed to be issued if the features it describes were in "prior art" i.e. existing products.

 

Therefore the patent is invalid, and the patent troll is just attempting extortion. It's a typical organized crime operation.
 

post #74 of 75

The problem is that

(A) the court that let this suit go forward is known for its pro-patent-speculator bias. (They should be called speculators, not trolls.)

Thus the court in question may well be enabling extortion by speculator thugs.

 

And if the speculators get a jury trial as requested then the other problem is that

(B) the jury members may well be pressured or outright paid under the table to side with the speculator crooks.

Never underestimate what can be done in a small town like Marshall to rig a trial or election or anything.

post #75 of 75
Originally Posted by Grind View Post

I was using spreadsheets long before the 1995 patent was issued that had all the features described in the patent.

 

Probably not. QuattroPro for Windows was widely regarded the first *Windows* spreadsheet program with the tabs.

 

The patent does not cover the concept of a 3D spreadsheet, it covers a specific implementation of them, under Windows.

 

I highly suspect you are either referring to non-Windows products, ones that post-date the 1992 release of QPW, or ones that use some other visual display.

 

But feel free to list your examples.

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