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Apple slapped with iTunes customization lawsuit

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
A new lawsuit is charging Apple's iTunes Store, and almost everything it touches, with overstepping the boundaries of a smaller firm's patents, AppleInsider has learned.

Filed on April 24th in the now infamous Marshall, Texas court division, the 5-page formal complaint by Internet media firm Individual Network LLC alleges that Apple's iTunes Store is violating a patent relating to targeted media delivery.

Addressed in the patent, titled "Method and System for Providing a Customized Media List," is the concept of tailoring a list of digitally transmitted content based on personalized info. Ads, music, and TV shows could be selectively shown to the user once a database server compares its media library against a user's recent choices. This last aspect could include anything from personal profiles to the user's playback history.

All of this will be familiar to regular customers of Apple's service. Individual Network effectively claims that the aspects of iTunes Store's front-end which narrow content based on an Apple ID's data and habits -- such as the genre tabs that have appeared in the main window, or the Just For You feature -- directly infringe on the patent, supposedly causing serious damage to the LLC's business.

The question of prior art may loom over the case from the outset. While the patent itself was filed in July of 2002, almost a year before the inception of the music-only iTunes Store, the plaintiff's own argument points to the patent's official issue date as October 3, 2006 -- roughly a year after Just For You made its public debut as part of iTunes 6 and later still compared to the iTunes Store's tabs.

Whichever claim holds the most merit, the consequences for Apple of losing the case would prove more severe than the other suit filed in April by IP Innovation.

Individual Network's complaint accuses Apple's entire music ecosystem of profiteering from iTunes sales and points to anything which can download copies of that content, including the iPod, as contributing to the reported damage. If won under ideal circumstances, the suit would grant the plaintiff not just royalties for every iTunes song or video sold but also a "reasonable" percentage of the revenue from associated devices such as all iPods. The Apple TV and iPhone may also be subject to a future ruling.

The jury trial demanded by the complainant also pushes for a permanent injunction that would block any sales of unlicensed iTunes and iPod goods, forcing the Cupertino-based electronics maker to accommodate Individual Network's demands even during the possible appeals process.

As with the suit from two weeks ago, Apple has already received its formal notice; however, the company has so far maintained its typical silence on legal matters, preferring instead to let the court system speak for itself.
post #2 of 51
Hopefully the recent Supreme Court decision regarding patentability in the face of "obvious" inventions will quell this sort of thing in the future. I have no problems with patents on truly innovative things that took substantial resources to develop, but shotgun patenting of everything you can think of should definitely take a blow with the recent decision.
post #3 of 51
You aren't successful if someone isn't suing you.

- Jasen.
post #4 of 51
How long has Amazon been making recommendations to me based on my previous browsing and buying habits?
post #5 of 51
Apple has $12B cash on hand.

I think they should simply buy Marshall, TX and be done with this nonsense.
post #6 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by bignumbers View Post

Apple has $12B cash on hand.

I think they should simply buy Marshall, TX and be done with this nonsense.

Yeah, well, then the next one will creep up with another violation or whatever. It's like roaches. You can't keep them as pets and hope they don't multiply...\
post #7 of 51
the american legal system really is terrible...
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post #8 of 51
First, about "prior art". The relevant date is the filing date of the application (July 2002) and not the issue date of the patent. So anything before July 2002 could be used as prior art.

Second, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision yesterday on obviousness didn't change anything. They just pointed out that in that particular case (KSR v. Teleflex) that the Federal Circuit (the appeals court responsible for handling all patent appeals cases) made a mistake. The obviousness standard stays as it was.
post #9 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by othello View Post

the american legal system really is terrible...

Blame that pesky 7th amendment. Jury trials are outdated for a lot of todays technical cases.
post #10 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by othello View Post

the american legal system really is terrible...

Because somebody filed a lawsuit? Please.

Commercial disputes, even ridiculous ones that are obviously intended to leach off someone else's success, are just part of the cost of doing business.

Apple will grind this company down and make it spend a fortune pursuing the case.
post #11 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by othello View Post

the american legal system really is terrible...

I concur. But keep in mind though that "We The People" are still the proponents of that system, and they will be the ones who decide whether to keep it on the current path of injustice. (Yes, lawsuits like this are frivilous, and the very act of allowing them in court is "unjust".) Sadly, most Americans have a deep seeded problem in thinking they have everything that is "the best in the world." Many in the US use this as an excuse to maintain the status quo in the legal system, even if such threatens to destroy the very foundation of the American economic system.

Software patents need to be nullified worldwide, along with any patent that is held by a company that does not actively sell and maintain a real sellable product based on those patents. Anything less is a slap in the face at justice because it in effect legalizes extortion.
post #12 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by othello View Post

the american legal system really is terrible...

Find me one that isn't.
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post #13 of 51
everytime a company start something for example apple started carrying the inames people started filling millions of patents for similar names to stort money from the company at some point in the future another example is sony ps3, people whent krazy trying to register the domain on the web, that should be a crime to me thats extortion just like anything else
post #14 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDW View Post


Software patents need to be nullified worldwide, along with any patent that is held by a company that does not actively sell and maintain a real sellable product based on those patents. Anything less is a slap in the face at justice because it in effect legalizes extortion.

Agree with the first statement, but not the second. There are lots of companies who have the mental resources but not the finance to successfully bring a product to market, and instead make money by licensing their inventions to companies who has.

This is perfectly acceptable, IMO.

Remember, the patent system was created to protect the rights of the small person towards large companies, though it certainly doesn't seem that way today, in a similar matter that copyright laws were intended to protect the artist against the huge record companies, not against the customer...
post #15 of 51
If this doesn't get dropped due to prior art, there is definitely something twisted happening in the U.S. I mean come on, a patent for making product recommendations based on a user's past interests in related products? That has surely been around as long as humans existed. I bet in 5,000 B.C., if Mr. Zog sold several items, including wooden cups, and Mrs. Chin was particulary keen on wooden cups, then the next time Mrs. Chin went to Mr. Zog's shop, well, Mr. Zog is sure as hell gonna show her his latest range of wooden cups, ain't he?
post #16 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by aplnub View Post

Find me one that isn't.

Japan.
(Seriously, your comment was rather flippant, lacking knowledge of legal systems outside the US. Your comment is a classic example of the attitude I just described about how most Americans think concerning everything in America being the same or better than anywhere else in the world.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zandros View Post

There are lots of companies who have the mental resources but not the finance to successfully bring a product to market, and instead make money by licensing their inventions to companies who has...Remember, the patent system was created to protect the rights of the small person towards large companies...

The purpose of the current patent system was to protect individuals or smaller companies who would work to get an idea to market in a reasonable amount of time without fear of a larger, cash-rich company coming along and snatching away that idea. But the fact remains that individuals or smaller companies still need to work toward getting that idea turned into a sellable product, otherwise the idea is worthless to society. But the current legal system in the United States opens to the door to lazy or inept developers to merely patent an idea and then sit back and cast a little money at lawyers who will sue with vigor anyone who appears to be using part of that patent. This is abuse of the system as it was originally intended. And ultimately, it only works to stifle innovation by smaller companies who fear lawsuits if their ideas become successful -- yes, even ideas that are patented in some ways. How ironic isn't it that a system that was intended to protect "the little guys" has become a monstrous system that promotes extortion under the guise of "patent rights" and "the freedom to sue"!
post #17 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDW View Post

Software patents need to be nullified worldwide, along with any patent that is held by a company that does not actively sell and maintain a real sellable product based on those patents. Anything less is a slap in the face at justice because it in effect legalizes extortion.

Software patents are a necessity, IMHO. I don't think it's coincidence that the countries with the stronger IP laws have the best economies, and stronger IP tends to go hand-in-hand with improvement in an economy. I just think the "obvious" bar has been set far too low for software patents. There are legitimate software "devices" that take substantial resources to invent but could be copied fairly easily, and some sort of protection must be afforded such investment.

I do, however, think software patents should be required to 1. be defended up-front or lost-- no "sleeper" patents where the company waits until something becomes popular then jumps out with a patent years later, and 2. be licensed at reasonable terms, where the terms are relative to the fraction of the product composed of by the patent, not about how much they think they can extort with the threat of an injunction.
post #18 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

Software patents are a necessity, IMHO.

Many Americans feel as you do, which is why such patents exist in America.

For those of you unsure which stand to take, there are numerous site you can Google for further information. Here are some I found to be of interest:

Software patents and the dependency problem
Software Patents in Europe
No Software Patents! (Europe)
Are Software Patents Evil?
History of Software Patents (US)
post #19 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDW View Post

Japan.
(Seriously, your comment was rather flippant, lacking knowledge of legal systems outside the US. Your comment is a classic example of the attitude I just described about how most Americans think concerning everything in America being the same or better than anywhere else in the world.)

You could have answered my question with one word. Evidently, you need to make assumptions about my attitude and how it describes an entire country and call my comment flippant. Quite frankly, your comment is a little weird about America thinking we are the same or better in "everything" compared to the rest of the world. While it is true we have endless supplies of toliet paper, I don't know anyone at my work that thinks America is top dawg of every aspect of life. Obviously, we live here, so are a bit bias atht time, but by no means blind.

If Japan's legal system is not terrible, great. I am glad to know that and would like others to mention more.

Merci au revoir,

aplnub
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post #20 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDW View Post

Japan.
(Seriously, your comment was rather flippant, lacking knowledge of legal systems outside the US. Your comment is a classic example of the attitude I just described about how most Americans think concerning everything in America being the same or better than anywhere else in the world.)

Get over yourself... his comment was no less flippant then the posters comment stating the US legal system was terrible... Oh wait, are you still in the mode where anyone can say anything they like so long as its has anti-US overtones?

It sure seems like it to me or you would have been commenting on the flippant comment about the US legal system being terrible. Since painting something as complex as a legal system with a single word (terrible/great/etc) would be like me saying the Sun is terrible simply because I got a sun burn last summer and forgoing all of the good the Sun does.

Oh and Japan has a 'less than terrible' legal system? Maybe it does but where was the I when this was put up to a world-vote ?? **or** Did you just flippantly hand down this proclamation all by yourself?
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post #21 of 51
I'm sure the Apple Store had those features prior to 2001.

I also remember reading that Amazon themselves hold the patent for "product suggestions".
post #22 of 51
If this other company had such a great patent why didn't they make a successful product themselves? Or have they and I missed it?
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post #23 of 51
Getting myself back on topic, these kinds of patents shouldn't exist... I'm sorry but a web site displaying specific products to regular visitors based on said specific visitors buying habits isn't a 'novel invention' its simply good salesmanship.

Is it any different then waking into your favorite clothing store and the sales/counter person says 'hey you might want to look at -whatever- it just came in and I just knew you'd like it' (because the sales person being a 'good sales person' knows the styles you like) or is it any different then sitting down at your favorite restaurant with your regular waiter telling you 'oh we just added -whatever- to the menu and I'm sure you'll love it' (because the waiter 'being a good waiter' knows what kinds of foods you favor).

Displaying or making aware a product that you know a regular customer would like since you know what they've purchased in the past is simply good salesmanship, admittedly a dying art when shopping at some stores these days but certainly not a novel invention...

Finally this 'patent' sounds just like a system described in Bill Gates super-home (from how many years ago). Where residents and guests would wear some type of tracking pin and then as the person walked thru the house the servers would present artwork (in digital picture frames) and stream music that the pin wearer prefers most.

Sorry but these kinds of obvious patents should be rooted from the system as quickly as they are found.

Dave
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post #24 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post

Get over yourself... his comment was no less flippant then the posters comment stating the US legal system was terrible... Oh wait, are you still in the mode where anyone can say anything they like so long as its has anti-US overtones?

It sure seems like it to me or you would have been commenting on the flippant comment about the US legal system being terrible. Since painting something as complex as a legal system with a single word (terrible/great/etc) would be like me saying the Sun is terrible simply because I got a sun burn last summer and forgoing all of the good the Sun does.

Oh and Japan has a 'less than terrible' legal system? Maybe it does but where was the I when this was put up to a world-vote ?? **or** Did you just flippantly hand down this proclamation all by yourself?

Both remarks could be seen as pretty flippant, but there's no point fighting over it! As a non-US citizen, I'm afraid I have to agree that most Americans APPEAR to have a slight "we are mightier than thou" attitude. For example, the use of the English language. A friend of mine went to America on Holiday from England. She got chatting to some people in the bar who were American who insisted that my friend was not speaking English. Also, all software defaults to American English (Apple is particularly bad on this front as you cannot change Pages to British English).

Then there is the idea that all countries should have the same political system. My brother is studying politics and came up with quite an insightful idea that by now, each country has introduced a politial system that suits them best, whether other countries like it or not (although I have to admit Blair is just as bad as Bush). On another interesting idea, Clarkson (from BBC's Top Gear) went to America, asking people in Las Vagas to name European countries, very few could.

I know these are HUGE generalisations, but it is what is shown to the outsider, and thus we get a rather distorted attitude towards Americans.
post #25 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

If this other company had such a great patent why didn't they make a successful product themselves? Or have they and I missed it?

Just because you have a patent doesn't mean you need to be able to produce a product. You may not have the funding or resources to actually produce a product. But that doesn't invalidate the patent.
post #26 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdasmith View Post

On another interesting idea, Clarkson (from BBC's Top Gear) went to America, asking people in Las Vagas to name European countries, very few could.


Well since so many of the european countries are now part of the EU and such, isn't knowing "Europe" good enough? Do we get some extra credit if we can pick the correct hemisphere?

But going to Vegas? Yeah, let's go to a place where people would rather pee their pants then leave a slot machine that's on a roll, and ask them questions that doesn't involve where the crap tables are! You might as well go to France and ask them to win a war!
post #27 of 51
does Microsoft fund the legal pursuits of these little companies??
post #28 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdasmith View Post

Both remarks could be seen as pretty flippant, but there's no point fighting over it! As a non-US citizen, I'm afraid I have to agree that most Americans APPEAR to have a slight "we are mightier than thou" attitude. For example, the use of the English language. A friend of mine went to America on Holiday from England. She got chatting to some people in the bar who were American who insisted that my friend was not speaking English. Also, all software defaults to American English (Apple is particularly bad on this front as you cannot change Pages to British English).

Then there is the idea that all countries should have the same political system. My brother is studying politics and came up with quite an insightful idea that by now, each country has introduced a politial system that suits them best, whether other countries like it or not (although I have to admit Blair is just as bad as Bush). On another interesting idea, Clarkson (from BBC's Top Gear) went to America, asking people in Las Vagas to name European countries, very few could.

I know these are HUGE generalisations, but it is what is shown to the outsider, and thus we get a rather distorted attitude towards Americans.

Its okay, Most of us think that people from the UK are snobs who think they are better than americans.

As for the suit, I think it will all be taken care of, Apple has a mad legal team.
post #29 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zandros View Post

Remember, the patent system was created to protect the rights of the small person towards large companies, though it certainly doesn't seem that way today, in a similar matter that copyright laws were intended to protect the artist against the huge record companies, not against the customer...

Even though I would like to, I don't really believe in the noble nature of laws. Historically the laws have provided ways of keeping privileged people in privileged positions. Be it gentry in feudalism or capitalists and big corporations in capitalism. Patent laws have been and are regularly used and abused for that very purpose. Just remember the case of big film studios patenting film camera and using the patent to prevent independents from using them for making movies.

What I really dislike is when patent laws are used to hold back progress. It happens in all areas but it is most disturbing when it happens regularly in medicine. Big corporations buying off patents for new and promising therapies just to lock them in the vault to protect the investments they have made in their less efficient more expensive products that have not yet paid off the planned return on investment. Or, on the other hand, ignoring and not venturing into trying out substances that might provide excellent therapies, just because they can not be patented, are easy available and so could not be sold expensively. They just are not profitable enough. Not only do they not venture in trying them out, but also actively discourage and prevent independent labs from testing them and publishing their results.

But I digress now. The point: no need to be naive about noble causes for laws. Many times it is nothing more but sand in the eyes.
post #30 of 51
Amazon and Netflix have been making recommendations to me about products based on my habits since the 90's.
post #31 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdasmith View Post

Both remarks could be seen as pretty flippant, but there's no point fighting over it! As a non-US citizen, I'm afraid I have to agree that most Americans APPEAR to have a slight "we are mightier than thou" attitude. For example, the use of the English language. A friend of mine went to America on Holiday from England. She got chatting to some people in the bar who were American who insisted that my friend was not speaking English. Also, all software defaults to American English (Apple is particularly bad on this front as you cannot change Pages to British English).

Then there is the idea that all countries should have the same political system. My brother is studying politics and came up with quite an insightful idea that by now, each country has introduced a politial system that suits them best, whether other countries like it or not (although I have to admit Blair is just as bad as Bush). On another interesting idea, Clarkson (from BBC's Top Gear) went to America, asking people in Las Vagas to name European countries, very few could.

I know these are HUGE generalisations, but it is what is shown to the outsider, and thus we get a rather distorted attitude towards Americans.


I believe that an incredibly large majority of people in most places of the world are by nature ethnocentric and believe that their country/race/way of life is the best. I could easily name 15 countries in Europe without any help. I agree that the people in the bar that your friend ran into were ignorant. Also, keep in mind that when a TV show goes to do the man on the street interviews, they might have spoken with 25 people to find the 2 or 3 to feature who were the most ignorant or funniest. I bet that if I were to go to the UK, I could easily find people who couldn't list five countries from say Africa, or South America. Not to mention how there seems to be an undertone of Brits, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish who all think that they are superior to the others.

The more you know, the more you realize that we humans are more similar than different around the world.
post #32 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Louzer View Post

Just because you have a patent doesn't mean you need to be able to produce a product. You may not have the funding or resources to actually produce a product. But that doesn't invalidate the patent.

What kind of product? I really don't think it's that hard or that expensive. For me, it would probably cost me more to patent an idea than it would to just make a product around it, though that might not count the time that I'm investing to develop the product. Nothing I make is a huge mass market affair (yet), but it is still a product.

If it's truly novel and it was deemed worth patenting, then finding investment capital shouldn't be hard if that's what is desired.

I know not making it into a product doesn't invalidate the patent, but I can at least sympathize with why people think it should.

I don't have any solutions to the problem. It's beginning to look as if one can't write software without infringing on someone's patent.
post #33 of 51
This is an example of how these people who are suing Apple are thinking about their 'intellectual property'

From the Ali-G show:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkuOuxRD1Bc Start it at 0:50 and watch to 1:30.

(Ali-G is a comedy show by the way)
post #34 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by -cj- View Post

does Microsoft fund the legal pursuits of these little companies??

I doubt it, since these companies also get around to suing MS on stupid things like this as well (remember the "activeX plug-in" lawsuit over how plug-ins work in IE?).
post #35 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacCentric View Post

I believe that an incredibly large majority of people in most places of the world are by nature ethnocentric and believe that their country/race/way of life is the best.

So true.
In addition, the world as a whole helps feed the US's self centeredness by consuming our culture--in France they are rapping and eating frozen bread, American movies and tv shows abound around the world--"its hard to be modest when you are so great..."

Quote:
I agree that the people in the bar that your friend ran into were ignorant.

Or they were having fun frustrating somebody with a cool accent.

I had a friend who enjoyed nothing less than pretending to be the ignorant American when we traveled around the world. People were so ready to believe anything ignorant he said. "You're from Austria, so cool. I've always wanted to see Germany." --That one always got a great response.
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post #36 of 51
1. A patent is a "negative monopoly" that grants the patent owner the right to exclude others (the negative part) from making, using, selling, or importing (the monopoly part) the patented invention in the U.S. (for example). There is nothing in the patent statute in the U.S. or in any other country that forces a patent holder to actually practice the invention (i.e., make a product or use a process). They can just sit back and let the money come in (or sue to get it).

2. In the U.S., there are maintenance fees that must be paid during the life of the patent to keep it in force. These fees increase over time. Other countries have annual annuities, which are basically the same thing. Bottom line: if the patent holder doesn't pay the fee, the patent expires.

3. That said, some countries have a "compulsory license", under which if a patent holder is not actively making use of their patented invention, they must license it at a "reasonable rate" to any party that is interested. There are some other prerequisites, like a certain period of time must have passed without the patent holder exercising their rights (often 3 or 4 years) and the interested party must have sought a license from the patent holder.

Hope this helps clarify a few things.
post #37 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdasmith View Post

On another interesting idea, Clarkson (from BBC's Top Gear) went to America, asking people in Las Vagas to name European countries, very few could.

Don't feel too bad about this... Ask those very same folks to name the last 10 American presidents & vice presidents and you'd likely get the very same blank stare after the first 5 or 6...

It's not the people fault (it's never the peoples fault) and we sure know that we can't blame the teachers but I'm sure we'll find someone to pin this on... Hmmm how about Don Imus or maybe some popular conservative radio talk-show host?
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post #38 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by othello View Post

the american legal system really is terrible...

You mean the patent system, right? Because the legal system, at least in this particular case, is fine and dandy. Both parties have money to afford the ligitation. Both parties are knowledgable about the subject matter. Both are certainly going to be represented by competent attorneys.

The legal system is fine. It's the patent system that you want to go after.
post #39 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post

Don't feel too bad about this... Ask those very same folks to name the last 10 American presidents & vice presidents and you'd likely get the very same blank stare after the first 5 or 6...

It's not the people fault (it's never the peoples fault) and we sure know that we can't blame the teachers but I'm sure we'll find someone to pin this on... Hmmm how about Don Imus or maybe some popular conservative radio talk-show host?

I lived in Europe for a few years. Southern Italy to be precise. When I would tell people I was from Virginia, they would ask if I knew their brother in law in Seattle. It goes both ways. People just can't be bothered to retain a lot of information that is not pertinent to their day-to-day lives. I certainly don't feel bad about Americans not knowing all the European countries. I don't feel bad about Americans not knowing all of the US Presidents. It's just not that relevant to living.

Try this: You have a choice of two doctors, and you want to choose one. So you ask them questions. Both can name all the parts of the body, both can name the same number of diseases, virii, proper surgical techniques, have an equal number of successful operations under their belt, etc., but only one can name all of the European countries. Are you really going to let something that trivial affect your choice of a doctor?
post #40 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacCentric View Post

I believe that an incredibly large majority of people in most places of the world are by nature ethnocentric and believe that their country/race/way of life is the best. I could easily name 15 countries in Europe without any help. I agree that the people in the bar that your friend ran into were ignorant. Also, keep in mind that when a TV show goes to do the man on the street interviews, they might have spoken with 25 people to find the 2 or 3 to feature who were the most ignorant or funniest. I bet that if I were to go to the UK, I could easily find people who couldn't list five countries from say Africa, or South America. Not to mention how there seems to be an undertone of Brits, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish who all think that they are superior to the others.

The more you know, the more you realize that we humans are more similar than different around the world.

Very true and accurate. I am English, (I don't say Brit. The Welsh and Irish and Scottish all hate the English! ) and I have lived in US for 18 years. When I go back to the UK these days I am staggered at how poorly most speak and how parochial many are. Visiting the US on vacation doesn't exactly introduce one to real Americans who are for the most part very friendly, well educated and even have good dental care unlike the UK lol. But seriously, There is very little difference to people the World over when you dig deep enough as Mac Centric says.
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