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Apple, AT&T sued over iPhone's Visual Voicemail feature - Page 2

post #41 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by broadbean View Post

Some of the ideas seem very similar to Apple's PowerTalk back in the 90s with System 7...

Indeed, such prior art may play a very important role in Apple's defense.
post #42 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

At least upon a cursory reading of the patent applications, the technology relies upon the caller entering DTMF codes--i.e., the caller must identify themselves by manually entering touch-tones on their telephone keyboard. The iPhone uses CallerID instead, so I don't see how Klausner expects to make a strong case against Apple. It will all come down to what was explicitly stated in the Claims.

As an aside, IANAL, but people commenting here are showing a high degree of naivety about the patent system, why it was created and how it works. It doesn't matter whether a patent holder waits 1 year or 15 years to defend itself or whether they ever produce a product of their own. The primary purpose of the patent system is to disseminate novel ideas, rather than have people maintain them in confidence as trade secrets and perhaps never see the light of day. In exchange for publicizing their ideas, inventors receive patent protection for a period of time: the right to exclude others from utilizing the idea without first obtaining a license.

Exactly.
post #43 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

Perhaps you'd like to enlighten us as to what "perspectives from around the globe" have to do with a U.S. legal case and what morals might have to do with the patent law here.

It is part of the discussion at hand. (Hint: this isn't a purely legal discussion.)
post #44 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnqh View Post

Oh, stop, you are making Apple look worse....

PowerTalk was introduced in 1993 with System 7 Pro.

Released products follow up pre-patented technologies.

What year(s) did the technologies of this [for humor's sake] that makes up PowerTalk get patented?
post #45 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by alienzed View Post

In a world that rewards greed (capitalism), is this so surprising?
What I want to know is if patents are meant to incite progress, why are you able to take action that imposes an obstacle on progress. And 15 years? That's way way too long to hold an 'idea' (so f'ing obvious at this point)
Patents are retarded, you describe a way of doing things and hold the legal right to that way of doing things??? There is nothing as immoral as that, I mean didn't their moms tell them to share?

Give me your car.
post #46 of 70
The sad thing is that Apple & AT&T will very likely settle this case and pay out millions and millions of dollars. Apple does it all the time. People who sue big companies very often win.
post #47 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Released products follow up pre-patented technologies.

What year(s) did the technologies of this [for humor's sake] that makes up PowerTalk get patented?

PowerTalk needn't have been patented for Apple to possibly use the underlying ideas in its defense. One defense to a patent infringement suit is to prove the existence of relevant, encompassing "prior art", which can consist of Apple internal confidential documentation or public documents or products. Public prior art needn't have been produced by Apple.
post #48 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesP2009 View Post

The sad thing is that Apple & AT&T will very likely settle this case and pay out millions and millions of dollars. Apple does it all the time. People who sue big companies very often win.

Do you have a reference for any studies that support such bold statements ("very likely" and "pay out millions and millions")? What is your definition of "very likely"? A 10% chance, 50% chance, 90% chance?
post #49 of 70
DTMF isn't in the claims. I'm not going to read all 60 or whatever claims. If apple can show it's distinct from the base claims, then they're ok. as i said, at least one of them may suggest apple's in the clear. however, there are many, and they are going to be interpreted to death. or they could just invalidate the patent. lol.

i'm ok with this lawsuit. I mean, as a shareholder I dislike it, but from my IP experience, I have to say they're totally in the right to sue. It helps them in that they've had a history of protecting this patent. So I can't get mad at them for being selective or opportunistic.

It is an obvious idea today, but some 15 years ago, maybe not.

As to the strategy of make something, get sued, pay fee innovation scenario .. I guess that's the price of the patent system and an example of a need for reform. It's getting mighty difficult to create without stepping on toes. it sucks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

At least upon a cursory reading of the patent applications, the technology relies upon the caller entering DTMF codes--i.e., the caller must identify themselves by manually entering touch-tones on their telephone keyboard. The iPhone uses CallerID instead, so I don't see how Klausner expects to make a strong case against Apple. It will all come down to what was explicitly stated in the Claims.

As an aside, IANAL, but people commenting here are showing a high degree of naivety about the patent system, why it was created and how it works. It doesn't matter whether a patent holder waits 1 year or 15 years to defend itself or whether they ever produce a product of their own. The primary purpose of the patent system is to disseminate novel ideas, rather than have people maintain them in confidence as trade secrets and perhaps never see the light of day. In exchange for publicizing their ideas, inventors receive patent protection for a period of time: the right to exclude others from utilizing the idea without first obtaining a license.
post #50 of 70
Wow the replies on AppleInsider are surprisingly harsh at times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

Do you have a reference for any studies that support such bold statements ("very likely" and "pay out millions and millions")? What is your definition of "very likely"? A 10% chance, 50% chance, 90% chance?
post #51 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesP2009 View Post

Wow the replies on AppleInsider are surprisingly harsh at times.

Trying to keep people grounded rather than floating off into emotional oblivion is being harsh?
post #52 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoboomafoo View Post

DTMF isn't in the claims.

DTMF is used extensively in Klausner's patent applications to describe the "first signals." The mechanism of creating these signals is by manual (touch-tone) entry. In evaluating the validity of the patents and the basis for the suit, the state of the art in 1992 needs to be considered. According to that venerable authority the Wikipedia, the first Caller ID patent was filed in 1976 and the technology might have been well-known in 1992 to anyone versed in the state of the art of telephony and messaging. In contrast, by describing DTMF and manual operations so extensively, Klausner seems naive in his patent applications.

Quoting from an example (not a claim) in the first Klausner patent: "It is to be understood that any incoming signals over the telephone line with a voice message that is recognizable by the TAD and is generally unique to the caller may be used instead of DTMF tones." This open-ended expansion to signals of an unknown nature might be too vague for extension to automated Caller ID signals, particularly when the first patent for Caller ID had been filed some 16 years earlier.

There's more to the Klausner patents than just having the caller identify themselves, though. The selective retrieval of messages is perhaps the big ticket item. The second Klausner patent discusses remote retrieval of selected messages. However, AT&T and Apple might have circumvented this patent by unconditionally transmitting all messages to the iPhone, then letting the user locally retrieve selected messages.
post #53 of 70
I think the reason why many of the users are upset about this lawsuit isn't that a patent holder is suing a big company for lots of money, its the thought of how long they are taking, as well as a few other things...

First of, you have a 15 year old patent without any marketable progress on a patent, minus defending other companies from using it without paying the big bucks. This is stupid. Thats like me patenting travelling to mars now, then sitting here waiting until NASA gets to Mars, then sueing them because I have a patent for it. I believe it was stated as 'product evolution'; Its not really inventing something new, its more of evolving an old idea into something new (much like the broom has evolved into the Swiffer cleaner)

Secondly, the device in question is AT&T and Apple's iPhone Visual Voicemail, which the feature is not new (I recall a widget that allowed you to do the same thing from your computer months before the release), but having on a phone was quiet the handy feature (I know I love it : D). Now this iPhone was released in June. Thats almost 6 months that these guys have actually sat on this lawsuit. I'm not a laywer, so I don't know if there is some sort of working about that, but it just seems fishy that after this whole time, they are just now realizing that 'Hey... Visual Voicemail? Didn't we patent that, oh, 15 years ago?'. The phone has been out for 6 months, and they've been talking about it for 1-2 years before that, and no one in the company was alerted to this until just now?

Third, its quite a hefty sum of money they are asking for in 'damages'. I wish I got $360 million for an idea I thought of and never actually did anything about. I can easily understand the idea of patents, but its kinda useless if you don't do anything about them. I invented the Swiffer when I was 4, playing with a broom and wishing there was some way to have the dust stick to the broom like my magnets, so where's my $360 billion?

As for the patent system, I don't believe you should have to prove you are working on something to patent it, but I do believe that you should show proof that you are progressing on it, or at least attempting to, in order to defend it and get payouts.

Right now, it seems the biggest 'inventions' are ones that improve upon a previous product, or combine multiple products to provide a better convience. If you come up with a way to improve something, patent it. Work at getting enough money to produce the product, and benefit man. This company has successfully defended this patent against 2 companies already, I'm quiet certain that they have enough money to R&D a kickass Visiual Voicemail system that they could be selling to companies for at or more price... Oh wait, then they'd have to actually work! Nevermind scratch that.

Hey isn't "Visual Voicemail" Copyrighted by Apple/AT&T? If the plaintiff uses the word 'Visual Voicemail' like that, can't they sue back? Haha

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Powerbook G4 17" 1.0 GHz, 60 GB HD, 1GB RAM
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Soon: 30" Apple Cinema Display
Soon: Macbook Pro 17" Merom Full Specs.
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post #54 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

And had you invented that common-sense, billion dollar hand soap idea that every household and company uses, and someone decided they were going to use it instead without paying you anything, you would be on one hell of a journey in the courts.

By definition, you cannot invent common sense.
post #55 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

There's more to the Klausner patents than just having the caller identify themselves, though. The selective retrieval of messages is perhaps the big ticket item. The second Klausner patent discusses remote retrieval of selected messages. However, AT&T and Apple might have circumvented this patent by unconditionally transmitting all messages to the iPhone, then letting the user locally retrieve selected messages.

So, I just did a test with my iphone.

-I left a message in my voicemail. I waited for the notification (this can sometimes take a while. I've noticed as long as five to eight minutes in some cases).

-I put the phone in airplane mode. That should disable all radios.

-I accessed voicemail. It had a message that voicemail was unavailable, with a box to tap to access voicemail. But below that was my test voicemail, and the deleted items.

-I then listened to my voicemail. The icon in the upperleft was always on the airplane icon.

-At the end of the voicemail, another message came up about not being connected.

So, based on my unscientific study, I would say that messges are locally stored for playback. If the message is long and your edge connection not so hot, the download may take some time.
post #56 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by AjayBot View Post

I think the reason why many of the users are upset about this lawsuit isn't that a patent holder is suing a big company for lots of money, its the thought of how long they are taking, as well as a few other things...

It actually hasn't taken Klausner long to file suit.

Quote:
First of, you have a 15 year old patent without any marketable progress on a patent, minus defending other companies from using it without paying the big bucks. This is stupid. Thats like me patenting travelling to mars now, then sitting here waiting until NASA gets to Mars, then sueing them because I have a patent for it.

If you've a non-obvious, viable method for Mars travel, then I'd suggest you file a patent application sometime. We'd all like to know about it and you should be allowed to profit from your creativity. If you're lucky, someone with the means of implementing your ideas will approach you offering gobs of money to license the technology and do all of the hard work for you. If you're unlucky, your patent will just sit there for everyone to read and admire... forever. Perhaps 17+ years hence, someone will be inspired to act on your ideas, at which time your patent protection will have expired and you'll not be in a position to receive a penny.

Quote:
Secondly, the device in question is AT&T and Apple's iPhone Visual Voicemail, which the feature is not new (I recall a widget that allowed you to do the same thing from your computer months before the release), but having on a phone was quiet the handy feature (I know I love it : D).

Do you believe Visual Voicemail was developed in just a few months? Or might Apple have internal documents on such a feature dating back years, perhaps even decades?

Quote:
Now this iPhone was released in June. Thats almost 6 months that these guys have actually sat on this lawsuit. I'm not a laywer, so I don't know ...

6 months is nothing. Furthermore, a patent isn't infringed until something is sold. Example: Meizu can wave around all manner of iPhone clones in the U.S., but until they actually start giving them away (or selling them), Meizu is safe from Apple's legal hounds.

Quote:
Third, its quite a hefty sum of money they are asking for in 'damages'. I wish I got $360 million for an idea I thought of and never actually did anything about.

Wishing you had invented something great doesn't cut it. Klausner will have attorney fees and incurs the risk of losing. If a settlement isn't reached, a court will ultimately decide if infringement has occurred and its valuation. Presumably Klausner already approached Apple about licensing his patented technology and Apple responded unsatisfactorily. Better to ask too much than too little in this case. Through "discovery" (delving into the defendant's records), Klausner might find his invention is worth far more than he expected. By way of example, Joe Shmoe operating out of his garage might be selling a device that clearly infringes, but unless/until Shmoe's business goes gangbusters, the monetary gain to the patent holder may not be worth the trouble of suing. Even after Shmoe's business is high-flying, the patent holder may wish to hold off on suing until the real or ultimate value of the infringement is evident. It could take years, and patent law allows this. In that respect, Klausner's suit actually seems to have appeared quickly. Furthermore, he filed it when the prospects of continued iPhone success seem bright, rather than waiting and risking that a rash of clones comes along and undermines iPhone sales.

Quote:
As for the patent system, I don't believe you should have to prove you are working on something to patent it, but I do believe that you should show proof that you are progressing on it, or at least attempting to, in order to defend it and get payouts.

A patent application becomes a public document, even before a decision has been made by the PTO if it takes more than 18 months. Attorneys versed in intellectual property law know how to search the records before filing new patent applications. Apple's attorneys are no different. It's not like Apple would have brought the iPhone to market blind.

Quote:
Hey isn't "Visual Voicemail" Copyrighted by Apple/AT&T? If the plaintiff uses the word 'Visual Voicemail' like that, can't they sue back? Haha

I expect Visual Voicemail is trademarked, not copyrighted. Copyrighting doesn't protect names or titles.
post #57 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by suhail View Post

Klausner did not invent anything, they were lucky enough to be awarded such a simplistic common-sense idea. it's like patenting hand soap, "a liquid to clean your hands"

It was common sense and yet no one did it.. Not that this company is correct but your statement is a foolish one. Something is only common sense once someone points it out. Fire seems elementary but tell that to the first cave man. Riding a bike seems elementary but not for the first person to ever ride a bike. Walking seems elementary but not to the first person who learned to walk. Yes, it all seems common sense now...if it was that common sense, it would have been in all cell phone products a long time ago.

Besides, when apple announced it, wasn't all the apple boards brimming about what a brilliant feature this was?.. i remember a few people drooling over the visual voicemail (along with touchscreen) features. So you saying people were drooling over a common sense feature?
Does that make sense to you?
post #58 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post

It's not "Visual Voicemail", it's "Audio Email".

Lawsuit dismissed.

The patent does not depend on the name of the technology but the technology itself.. i'm sure you were joking but just in case, i thought i'd set you straight.. you were kidding right?
post #59 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by wnurse View Post

So you saying people were drooling over a common sense feature?
Does that make sense to you?

Yes. It makes perfect sense.

Just because something hasn't been done (yet) doesn't mean that it is non-obvious. In this case, choosing from a list of audio tracks to listen to... is completely obvious, no matter whether average consumers had thought of it before or not.

My personal opinion is that the bar has been set waaay to low for patents. Instead of helping society by making it safe to reveal trade secrets, they've instead become government sanctioned monopolies for everyday ideas.

I'll agree that this is a pretty debatable point though. Something obvious to one person may not be obvious to another. It is also hard to prove what may or may not have been obvious at an earlier date.

In this particular case, I consider the idea to be mind-bogglingly obvious. Haven't science fiction writers been writing about this kind of thing for at least a half century? Planet to planet or ship to ship video mail? I could swear that the idea was in plenty of literature back in the slide-rule days.

From a legal perspective though, it all comes down to how the idea is implemented. (Which still chafts my hide)
post #60 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by dfiler View Post

Yes. It makes perfect sense.

Just because something hasn't been done (yet) doesn't mean that it is non-obvious. In this case, choosing from a list of audio tracks to listen to... is completely obvious, no matter whether average consumers had thought of it before or not.

My personal opinion is that the bar has been set waaay to low for patents. Instead of helping society by making it safe to reveal trade secrets, they've instead become government sanctioned monopolies for everyday ideas.

I'll agree that this is a pretty debatable point though. Something obvious to one person may not be obvious to another. It is also hard to prove what may or may not have been obvious at an earlier date.

In this particular case, I consider the idea to be mind-bogglingly obvious. Haven't science fiction writers been writing about this kind of thing for at least a half century? Planet to planet or ship to ship video mail? I could swear that the idea was in plenty of literature back in the slide-rule days.

From a legal perspective though, it all comes down to how the idea is implemented. (Which still chafts my hide)

no, choosing from a list of audio tracks is not obvious. How is it obvious? What would make it obvious?. The invention of the audio player?. If the audio player was not invented, would it still be obvious?. Of course not. Example, you could choose to play your music randomly, not from a list.. what if in the next 20 years, speech technology is so advanced, you can ask your player to play a song instead of selecting it from a list.. would that be obvious too?. What if in the next 100 years, you have a neural interface to a music player and it plays the song you want.. would that be obvious?. You assume that choosing music from a list was the only way to go.. it was not. It is also not obvious.. it's ubiquitous. Don't confuse ubiquity with obviousness.
post #61 of 70
It was obvious to me and probably a hundred million other people.

The hard part was actually putting it in a product at a low enough price.
post #62 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by wnurse View Post

no, choosing from a list of audio tracks is not obvious. How is it obvious? What would make it obvious?. The invention of the audio player?. If the audio player was not invented, would it still be obvious?. Of course not. Example, you could choose to play your music randomly, not from a list.. what if in the next 20 years, speech technology is so advanced, you can ask your player to play a song instead of selecting it from a list.. would that be obvious too?. What if in the next 100 years, you have a neural interface to a music player and it plays the song you want.. would that be obvious?. You assume that choosing music from a list was the only way to go.. it was not. It is also not obvious.. it's ubiquitous. Don't confuse ubiquity with obviousness.

What is it, though, makes things fundamentally different when we're talking about selectively playing back voice mail messages from a list, versus playing back any other arbitrary type of audio file?

The ability to pick an arbitrary audio file out of a list has been around at least since the Jukebox program that came with my old AdLib audio card back in 1990, which predates this patent application.

(Heck, people have been using a system which involved selecting a song title file from a list of tracks on the back of an LP cover, and an algorithm of counting track grooves on the album itself, to randomly access audio files from a list for the better part of a century now.)

Why should voice mail messages get special protection?
post #63 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by dfiler View Post

It was obvious to me and probably a hundred million other people.

The hard part was actually putting it in a product at a low enough price.

How smart of you.. i don't know ho old you are but apparently picking music from a list was obvious to you before it was first implemented.. you have any more obvious ideas yet that haven't been implemented?. i suggest you implement immediately!!!..
what are you talking about?. choosing music from a list was not obvious to millions of people.. it's obvious now becuase it has been implemented but not before. I smell Bullshit, i wonder what else was obvious to you
post #64 of 70
Ah, and the mud-slinging commences.

Quote:
what are you talking about?. choosing music from a list was not obvious to millions of people.

You've never heard of a JukeBox? Or how about the label on an album? Also, plenty of digital production suites predate this patent application. All of them had the ability to choose from a list of audio tracks.

Choosing from a list of audio tracks is a fundamentally obvious concept. Applying it to voicemail is equally obvious. It just wasn't easy to put into an affordable product.
post #65 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

DTMF is used extensively in Klausner's patent applications to describe the "first signals."

The claims are the meat of the patent. And there's a reason they say "first signals" instead of "DTMF". You want to be as vague as humanly possible in the claims. Otherwise, your patent becomes restrictive and easily circumventable. By way of the claims, *any* signal that is used to achieve this process would still infringe.

It's like, let's say i invented the ladder.

If I claimed, "a device with two long parallel beams connected by seven smaller bars perpendicular to said two parallel beams", then anyone could get around my patent by adding an additional bar. It's useful as it would allow the ladder to get to higher places. bla bla bla.

To make it better, I would claims "two long parallel beams connected by a number of smaller pependicular bars", then that means any ladder, whether it goes up one story or up to the moon infringe.

post #66 of 70
What a great idea!
post #67 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoboomafoo View Post

The claims are the meat of the patent. And there's a reason they say "first signals" instead of "DTMF". You want to be as vague as humanly possible in the claims. Otherwise, your patent becomes restrictive and easily circumventable.

That is true, and I wrote that early on in the thread, but it is still essential for the patent applicant to be careful how the technology is described and terminology is defined. I expect Klausner's definition of first signals will form one center of contention.

Quote:
By way of the claims, *any* signal that is used to achieve this process would still infringe.

That's what Klausner would like everyone to believe in 2007, but that doesn't make it so. As I described in a previous posting, I don't believe Klausner shows expertise in the relevant technology at the time of filing, because he doesn't even mention the 15-year old Caller ID technology. IIRC, his examples of first signals are all about manual methods, such as touch-tone dialing, whereas the older Caller ID technology is automatic. It might also be material to the defense that Klausner's "first signals" are sent after the phone call is established, whereas Caller ID information is available after just 2 rings, even before--and in lieu of--any call actually being established.
post #68 of 70
I hate lawyers who pick these cases, purely to make themselves rich. Maybe in the future, they'll pick cases that help the larger sum of the people in this world. Also intellectual property rights and control stunts the natural progression of human evolution.
post #69 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by age234 View Post

I'm all for patents but this is nonsense. It's about as close as patenting an idea as you can get and still get the certificate.

If you read the patent, it's like patenting the idea of writing: marks on paper that represent words.

Imagine if patent law had been around in the year 1000, and the Caliphate had patented Indo-Arabic numerals.

The west would have paid incalcuable royalties by now, or have been calculating them as MCMLXVII * XL.

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post #70 of 70
Everyone has seemingly missed the important info in both patents. They both require the caller entering DTMF (Dual Tone Multi-Frequency) signals into the telephone which are recognized, recorded and processed by the TAD (Telephone Answering Device). At no time during a call that ends up in AT&T's visual voicemail does a caller have to enter DTMF information. Any patent infringement claims have to match the patent verbatim or else it cannot qualify as an infringement. If this patent was filed in 1992 then the patent holder should have updated or applied for a new one to include the capabilities of current technology. Close but no cigar.
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