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Lawsuit alleges Apple lifted idea for iChat video backdrops

post #1 of 82
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A little-known corporation from Newport Beach, California is suing Mac maker Apple Inc., alleging that a new version of the company's iChat video conferencing software infringes on patented technology through its use of custom video backdrops.

In the 6-page complaint, filed Wednesday in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, Digital Background Corporation claims that the Apple software infringes on its 1998 patent entitled "Real-Time Method of Digitally Altering a Video Data Stream to Remove Portions of the Original Image and Substitute Elements to Create a New Image."

iChat 4.0, which shipped last month as part of the Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard operating system, also contains "a 'backdrop' feature which takes a picture of the background, replaces it with a photo or video of choice using a video frame storage and computer system to modify and then display the new image," the suit explains, without going into further detail.

Digital Background Corporation has asked the Court to award it a permanent injunction enjoining Apple from selling copies of Leopard that include the software, damages resulting from the infringement, treble those damages because DBC believes the infringement has been willful, and attorneys fees.

DBC's claim that infringement has been willful appears to stem from the fact that its technology has been readily accessible through a Windows product dubbed StarFX, which notes in its credits that the employed virtual backdrop technology is patented. The software application is "designed to be the industry standard for manipulating and enhancing PC video in real-time," according to a June 2000 press release.

Viewics's StarFX Software (Left) and Apple's iChat 4.0 (Right).

In addition, the company is asking in its suit that existing copies of Leopard be recalled from wholesalers, that all infringing equipment produced by Apple be destroyed, and that Apple "send a copy of any decision in this case in favor of DBC to each person or entity to whom Apple has sold or otherwise distributed any products found to infringe [its] patent, or induced to infringe [its] patent, and informing such persons or entities of the judgment and that the sale or solicited commercial transaction was wrongful."

DBC, by way of its attorneys at SimmonsCooper LLC, are requesting a trial by jury.
post #2 of 82
In addition, the company is asking in its suit that existing copies of Leopard be recalled from wholesalers, that all infringing equipment produced by Apple be destroyed, and that Apple "send a copy of any decision in this case in favor of DBC to each person or entity to whom Apple has sold or otherwise distributed any products found to infringe [its] patent, or induced to infringe [its] patent, and informing such persons or entities of the judgment and that the sale or solicited commercial transaction was wrongful."


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA


"breath"



HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Prior Art: See; ANY weather broadcast.
post #3 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post

Prior Art: See; ANY weather broadcast.

Or most Sci-Fi channel shows....
post #4 of 82
Why are they doing this only now? It's been a known fact for more than half a year that this will be a feature of iChat.

Seems stupid. Or did they wait for the product to be released?
post #5 of 82
I think they're being lenient, they should have also stated that anyone who has come in contact with said technology i.e within visual range must be immediately and inhumanely put to death and then spat on for stealing their so ingenious invention that no one has ever used before.

Why is it that people see it right to bring up such asinine lawsuits against Apple for clearly ridiculous things and yet Apple brings out the iphone, almost everyone copies it in some form and we hear nothing about it - you'd think all these ambulance chasing lawyers would be on Apple's side as way more people copy them than the converse. Apple practically invented the entire personal computer industry and some schmuck thinks they deserve to be taken down for using real-time green-screening.
post #6 of 82
This suit acctually has slightly more merit then most of the other ones popping up lately...

That being said... Let's have an metaphore for this.
~~~~
~~~~
A young boy at school makes comic books that many of the other kids read. Another little boy draws a picture, and hides it in his desk, saying, "If they want to see it, they can come ask me." Many other kids draw pictures like it, but he doesn't care. Several months later, The comic book boy draws a 300 page book, and one of the pages looks a little bit like the other boy's picture, only still much different. Soon, everyone on the playground is reading the comic book. The boy who drew the small picture goes to the teacher, showing her and saying "Teacher, teacher! I drew this picture yesterday and showed it to everyone and then that other boy made his big comic book about it, and he stole my picture to do it!!! Make him tear it iu please, make him tear it up, burn any desk he put it in, and then write an apology letter to anyone who saw it!!! Pleases?? He copied me!"
~~~~
~~~~
[/allegory]
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post #7 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital Background Corporation

In addition, the company is asking in its suit that Apple retrofit all iSight cameras with lasers, to blind anyone who attempts to use the misappropriated software technologies.

If this goes to trial, I can't wait for the Phil Schiller demo from the witness stand.
post #8 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

If this goes to trial, I can't wait for the Phil Schiller demo from the witness stand.



Yeah.. sounds like him.
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post #9 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

I think they're being lenient, they should have also stated that anyone who has come in contact with said technology i.e within visual range must be immediately and inhumanely put to death and then spat on for stealing their so ingenious invention that no one has ever used before.

Why is it that people see it right to bring up such asinine lawsuits against Apple for clearly ridiculous things and yet Apple brings out the iphone, almost everyone copies it in some form and we hear nothing about it - you'd think all these ambulance chasing lawyers would be on Apple's side as way more people copy them than the converse. Apple practically invented the entire personal computer industry and some schmuck thinks they deserve to be taken down for using real-time green-screening.

why do you ridicule something you know nothing about? you have no idea of the lawsuits background. I think apple like all corporations steal from whereever they can and are willing to play the game as far as lawsuits are concerned.

personally i think it is good that apple are being sued they are getting way too huge a corporation to give a @#$% about anyone other than their own bottom line.

They have relied on customers such as yourselves for years to keep their head about water and yet 'you' the customer are the last thing they care about.

Apple like all corporations have stolen a great many things / or when they feel that the risk is too high they buy companies out in order to have that technology under their wing.

Sure go ahead ridicule companies who stand up for their rights against huge corporations. I'll bet you all thought Bush was a liberal too!
post #10 of 82
And are you the one suing????
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post #11 of 82
Deleted by author.
post #12 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by william Hurt View Post

why do you ridicule something you know nothing about? you have no idea of the lawsuits background. I think apple like all corporations steal from whereever they can and are willing to play the game as far as lawsuits are concerned.

personally i think it is good that apple are being sued they are getting way too huge a corporation to give a @#$% about anyone other than their own bottom line.

They have relied on customers such as yourselves for years to keep their head about water and yet 'you' the customer are the last thing they care about.

Apple like all corporations have stolen a great many things / or when they feel that the risk is too high they buy companies out in order to have that technology under their wing.

Sure go ahead ridicule companies who stand up for their rights against huge corporations. I'll bet you all thought Bush was a liberal too!


That is so asinine, it is impossible to reply to... no wait. William Hurt has stolen from neighbours and friends for years, relying on all of them to keep him above water-- a known fact, Gospel, in fact---- fer sher!!!
post #13 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by william Hurt View Post

why do you ridicule something you know nothing about? you have no idea of the lawsuits background. I think apple like all corporations steal from whereever they can and are willing to play the game as far as lawsuits are concerned.

personally i think it is good that apple are being sued they are getting way too huge a corporation to give a @#$% about anyone other than their own bottom line.

They have relied on customers such as yourselves for years to keep their head about water and yet 'you' the customer are the last thing they care about.

Apple like all corporations have stolen a great many things / or when they feel that the risk is too high they buy companies out in order to have that technology under their wing.

Sure go ahead ridicule companies who stand up for their rights against huge corporations. I'll bet you all thought Bush was a liberal too!



You made THAT your first post?! Dude, I'm sorry, I forgot ALL corporations are Evil. I'm going to go stand in the corner now. By the way, has anyone used this software that is suing Apple? The major difference between the iChat and StarFX is, the iChat looks less like crap. Do I have to burn my copy of Leopard even if I don't have an iSight plugged into this computer, or have no desire to use that feature?

Anyone that uses "FX" in the name of their stuff carry no credibility.
post #14 of 82
most of these law sue end up goin no where because the patent system is so screw up, but sometimes people really think that apple has only been around for a couple of years, not knowing that most of these patents have been around dating back to the early 80s when they where only ideas, by microsoft and apple thats why they always get away with it
post #15 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by william Hurt View Post

why do you ridicule something you know nothing about? you have no idea of the lawsuits background.

I am not a lawyer, but that has never stopped me in the past.

Quote:
Originally Posted by william Hurt View Post

I think apple like all corporations steal from whereever they can and are willing to play the game as far as lawsuits are concerned.

ALL corporations are bad.
That is a very prejudiced remark.

Quote:
Originally Posted by william Hurt View Post

personally i think it is good that apple are being sued they are getting way too huge a corporation to give a @#$% about anyone other than their own bottom line.

So they are getting big and successful?

Quote:
Originally Posted by william Hurt View Post

They have relied on customers such as yourselves for years to keep their head about water and yet 'you' the customer are the last thing they care about.

But they are just keeping their head above water?

Quote:
Originally Posted by william Hurt View Post

Apple like all corporations have stolen a great many things / or when they feel that the risk is too high they buy companies out in order to have that technology under their wing.

Did a corporation hurt you when you were a child?

Quote:
Originally Posted by william Hurt View Post

Sure go ahead ridicule companies who stand up for their rights against huge corporations. I'll bet you all thought Bush was a liberal too!

DBC is also a corporation so they are bad and must have stolen from someone as well according to your logic.

You sir are a ignoramus.
post #16 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post

You made THAT your first post?! Dude, I'm sorry, I forgot ALL corporations are Evil. I'm going to go stand in the corner now. By the way, has anyone used this software that is suing Apple? The major difference between the iChat and StarFX is, the iChat looks less like crap. Do I have to burn my copy of Leopard even if I don't have an iSight plugged into this computer, or have no desire to use that feature?

Anyone that uses "FX" in the name of their stuff carry no credibility.

HA HA HA! First Post!
Doesn't bode well for the future.
There goes the neighborhood!
post #17 of 82
While I suspect that Apple will win this one (unless they somehow stole and are using the exact same algorithms this company uses for their product), I would not call this one frivolous, like so many of the others.

Weather broadcasts and movies are a bit different in that they typically use blue or green screens. If this company developed a new and unique way to map a varied background pattern and substitute something else in it's place (as opposed to just "replace all the green pixels with the weather map") AND if Apple is utilizing the same technique, the MIGHT have a case.

I'd say the idea isn't necessarily unqiue or non-intuitive, it's a natural progression of the green screen. But HOW they did it might be the key to the lawsuit.
post #18 of 82
Seriously, tough. WTF is up with these AppleInsider pop-up ads. I clicked off the block for a previous site, and now I had to close 6 windows. I think I should sue AppleInsider since my finger hurts from closing those ads and while I'm at it, should I destroy my Mac and monitor or just my monitor or my modem or all three along with the wiring in my house and every house in the world since the Internet is global?
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post #19 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by william Hurt View Post

why do you ridicule something you know nothing about? you have no idea of the lawsuits background. I think apple like all corporations steal from whereever they can and are willing to play the game as far as lawsuits are concerned.

personally i think it is good that apple are being sued they are getting way too huge a corporation to give a @#$% about anyone other than their own bottom line.

They have relied on customers such as yourselves for years to keep their head about water and yet 'you' the customer are the last thing they care about.

Apple like all corporations have stolen a great many things / or when they feel that the risk is too high they buy companies out in order to have that technology under their wing.

Sure go ahead ridicule companies who stand up for their rights against huge corporations. I'll bet you all thought Bush was a liberal too!

AAHHHHH, AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHH!!!!

WOW....

edit:
sry, just had to let it out... (*chuckles)

I want to know what happens next with this so called "lawsuit".
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post #20 of 82
I agree that there might be something legit here. It depends on the specifics. Its a 'neat' feature that someone thought up someday and maybe before Apple did. Its crazy to claim that it was willfull or that Apple stole the idea.

Maybe it's a case of legit claim, bad lawyer? If the thing has any merits, Apple will settle for a couple million and not be impacted.

I feel an odd sympathy towards the small company here... certainly different than the "I'm Gonna SUE EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!" lawsuits.

I'm interested in the outcome....
post #21 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by william Hurt View Post

...I think apple like all corporations steal from whereever they can...

Okay, I won't go so far as to say that all corporations steal, but Apple has been known to "borrow" a few ideas. Remember Konfabulator? Apple lifted that right up and dropped it in Panther. And they got away with it. No lawsuit, no nothing.

However, regarding this lawsuit, you'd have to look at the details of Digital Background Corporation's patent in order to tell if it infringes. I think it would come down to the subtleties of how DBC renders their real-time video vs how Apple does. I'm almost certain it's more complex than simply a "Weather Forcast" / green screen. If their patent isn't, then it will be dismissed as being too broad. Otherwise, they might actually have a case. There's no way they'll win that outrageous injunction, but will most likely settle out of court for a large-enough sum of money to keep them going for a few years and further insulate the pockets of their upper management. Same-old, same-old. Small companies do it all the time. Get over it.

-Clive
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post #22 of 82
There's never a dull day in Apple's legal department. They must be hiring like crazy to keep up with all these lawsuits.
post #23 of 82
If this little company really wants a jury trial, Apple could easily stretch out this thing for years... decades even. Anyone remember the guy who sued all of the car companies over his variable speed windshield wiper patent? He eventually won, but it took him something like 10 or 15 years.

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post #24 of 82
People need to start reading those patents before talking.

It does not use blue screen/green screen. It is about recognizing a static background.

Of course, everything's obvious in hindsight. At this moment, I would say that's a pretty easy thing to do. However, that patent was filed in 1997, a full ten years ago.

Guess what, if nobody else (including Apple) come up with that for ten years, that's strong argument that it WAS NOT OBVIOUS. You don't judge whether a patent is valid by whether it is obvious today. You have to rewind your mind back to the filing date.
post #25 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by wwwluckyro View Post

Why are they doing this only now? It's been a known fact for more than half a year that this will be a feature of iChat.

Seems stupid. Or did they wait for the product to be released?

No, it took them this long to write all this nonsense.
post #26 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by william Hurt View Post

I'll bet you all thought Bush was a liberal too!

Hell, Bush IS a Liberal!!!
And a wuss!
OMG here we go again...
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post #27 of 82
wait, people actually got this feature to work? I tried it out and it looked like crap.
post #28 of 82
Does this infringe too? Toysight
post #29 of 82
Lawsuit or no lawsuit, APPLE should never have added such bogus crap to Leopard in the first place. Tacky green-screen effects and stacks-in-the-dock too. I guess the estate of Dr. Suess will be suing for stacks next! Whoever came up with this garbage first; it doesn't matter. It's garbage.
post #30 of 82
Trial by jury. Please, please let me be on that jury. I'll send 'em pack'in quicker than they can replace a backdrop in streamed video.
post #31 of 82
I stood in front of a waterfall (as used in a backdrop) once so I have the copyright.
I'm gonna sue and make million$.

Wait, I mean I'm gonna rigorously defend my copyright.
post #32 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post

The major difference between the iChat and StarFX is, the iChat looks less like crap.

Making a statement to the effect of "Apple did it right" isn't a useful claim, that doesn't really absolve Apple of any liability on its own if in fact they really did lift the idea. I really doubt Apple would be liable here, but these stories don't have enough information to make a valid judgement of that, and just about none of us here are lawyers anyway.

Quote:
Anyone that uses "FX" in the name of their stuff carry no credibility.

That says nothing about the topic at hand. One could say that any computer company with a fruity name carries no credibility, but then, here we are. So please don't use that kind of invalid argument.
post #33 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post

Anyone that uses "FX" in the name of their stuff carry no credibility.

I guess in your eyes then, Apple has no credibility - FxPlug is Apple's name for their image-processing plug-in architecture, used in Final Cut Pro.

A little research before opening mouth, prevents filling mouth with foot...
post #34 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_CA View Post

I stood in front of a waterfall (as used in a backdrop) once so I have the copyright.
I'm gonna sue and make million$.

Wait, I mean I'm gonna rigorously defend my copyright.

My god, how clueless can people be? Do you even know the difference between patent and copyright?

For those who attack all the small companies who patented their work, don't we all wish Apple had patents on the original Mac interface instead of depending on the stupid copyright? Remember, Apple was once small too.
post #35 of 82
Next step -- sue all the TV stations and weatherpeople who use Green Screens. Should be a no-brainer
post #36 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post

I think it would come down to the subtleties of how DBC renders their real-time video vs how Apple does. I'm almost certain it's more complex than simply a "Weather Forcast" / green screen.

Yeah it's more complicated but there are all sorts of keying techniques and this one will just be a combination of those. I just did a very basic test in Shake and with a configuration of nodes that already exist, you can cut out a static background using a clean plate (which is how Apple do it - that's why they tell you to step out of the frame).

Apple may use some motion tracking and something like the auto alpha they have in the Leopard Preview.app to enhance things but the concept seems way too broad to me.

The phrase used in the patent:

"Real-Time Method of Digitally Altering a Video Data Stream to Remove Portions of the Original Image and Substitute Elements to Create a New Image."

applies to green screening too so it can't hold up. The backdrop just happens to be a solid color but it doesn't have to be - that's just to make things easier. It's still part of the footage that is removed and replaced.

It's clear that their agenda is simply to be spiteful against Apple. Why would they make such absurd statements like "that all infringing equipment produced by Apple be destroyed".

Quote:
Originally Posted by able-x

wait, people actually got this feature to work? I tried it out and it looked like crap.

Same here. I got pixels jumping around all over the place round the edges. That was against a fairly white wall. It probably helps if it is actually a green screen you happen to be standing in front of.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zoboomafoo

Does this infringe too? Toysight

I don't think so, that projects graphics on top of the camera input. The demos that show the PS3 eyetoy might though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud

Lawsuit or no lawsuit, APPLE should never have added such bogus crap to Leopard in the first place. Tacky green-screen effects and stacks-in-the-dock too.

I agree, they should have gone with subtle and refined. Between that junk and the ipod ads, I can't help but feel their new target audience is 12 year old girls.
post #37 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by mariofreak85 View Post

There's never a dull day in Apple's legal department. They must be hiring like crazy to keep up with all these lawsuits.

If nothing else let's hope these silly law suits are keeping the legal staff off the backs of Apple fans & bloggers!

D
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post #38 of 82
Another day, another lawsuit.

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post #39 of 82
They better sue ATI and Nvidia. Apple wrote only code to use a function of the graphics chips.
I can hear it now, get the F**k out of my court room.
post #40 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Able-X View Post

wait, people actually got this feature to work? I tried it out and it looked like crap.

TOTAL CRAP!
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