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Apple hit with summons over iTunes Store Allowances

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Apple this week came under legal fire from a small California firm that claims to hold a patent on concepts used by the iPod maker to facilitate the 'iTunes Store Allowance' feature of its industry leading digital download service.

In a scant complaint barely stretching 6-pages, Newport, Beach-based Restricted Spending Solutions (RSS) asserts that it developed in 2001 and successfully patented five years later methods for a "controlled entertainment spending account" that were later adopted by Apple without its authorization.

Specifically, RSS points to its November 28, 2006 Patent No. 7,143,064, which describes a "computer-based method for allocating funds in pre-established accounts for use by customers, by creating for each customer a customer account file containing a record of funds deposited for the customer, and limiting how the funds in each customer account file may be spent on audio and video entertainment."

By its own account, Apple describes its similar 'iTunes Store Allowance' feature -- believed to have been implemented sometime in 2004 or prior -- as "a nifty way for you to give a gift that keeps on giving. [It] allows you to send a monthly iTunes Store credit to a family member, friend, or colleague in an amount from $10 to $200. Each month, your chosen amount will automatically be added to your recipient's iTunes Store account."

In its complaint, filed Wednesday in an Illinois district court, RSS alleges that Apple has had full knowledge of its patent since at least July 7, 2005, and has thus caused irreparable injury by virtue of its infringement.



RSS is requesting that the Court permanently enjoin Apple from further infringement, award it attorney's fees and treble damages, and mandate that Apple destroy or hand over all products that incorporate features covered under its patent.

The little-knonw firm also demands that Apple send a copy of any decision in the case favoring RSS to each person or entity that made use of iTunes Store Allowances.
post #2 of 26
Ah, this is bullshit. Why the hell do these patents get accepted in the first place?

They're so generic. Patenting allowances? This is nuts.
post #3 of 26
It's business and that's how people make money. Until the patent system gets a modern overhaul, the courts will be clogged with lawsuits.

However if they're going to sue Apple, then they should sue Microsoft while they're at it because Microsoft has the same system on the XBox 360.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomozj View Post

Ah, this is bullshit. Why the hell do these patents get accepted in the first place?

They're so generic. Patenting allowances? This is nuts.
post #4 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomozj View Post

Ah, this is bullshit. Why the hell do these patents get accepted in the first place?

They're so generic. Patenting allowances? This is nuts.

Yeah, basically a gift card that auto-refills from a credit card every month. Wow, that took a work of genius to "invent."
post #5 of 26
Two thoughts: 1) If AAPL has been using "their" patented idea since 2004 or earlier, why file the suit 3 years after the patent was approved? 2) It is unclear to me what "concept" they patented? It sounds like an on-line piggy bank. Many companies use similar ways of funding/limiting such accounts. For one, Directv has a way to fund/limit monies for user access to pay-for-view movies and events.
post #6 of 26
Doesn't my bank account work in the same way with direct deposit?
It's getting silly in the States with these patents. In another 20 years will anyone be able to do anything without infringing on a patent.
Make it idiotproof and they'll just make a
better idiot.
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Make it idiotproof and they'll just make a
better idiot.
Reply
post #7 of 26
I own all the rights to the letter "L." I received the patent for the design of this letter in early 1952 and am presently in litigation with Lloyds Of London, ltd., regarding its illegal infringement of my copyright. My attorneys are actively preparing further lawsuits against the heirs of Lillian Hellman and Larry "Bud" Melman.
post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcloki View Post

Doesn't my bank account work in the same way with direct deposit?
It's getting silly in the States with these patents. In another 20 years will anyone be able to do anything without infringing on a patent.

Yes, because all the really obvious "Do what we always did, only now on a computer/internet/web connection" patents will have expired.
post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

Yes, because all the really obvious "Do what we always did, only now on a computer/internet/web connection" patents will have expired.

I wish I had your faith in the USPTO.
Make it idiotproof and they'll just make a
better idiot.
Reply
Make it idiotproof and they'll just make a
better idiot.
Reply
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Botvinnik View Post

I own all the rights to the letter "L." I received the patent for the design of this letter in early 1952 and am presently in litigation with Lloyds Of London, ltd., regarding its illegal infringement of my copyright. My attorneys are actively preparing further lawsuits against the heirs of Lillian Hellman and Larry "Bud" Melman.

sorry botvinnik, I OWN ALL the rights to the letter ""L"" as described. i require that anyone placing the letter L in quotes violates my patent! also, i've patented A and a that appear in every other word in an advertisement or forum.

by the way, SJ is patented too. you know who will be hearing from my lawyers!

y'all will be hearing from my patent-chasing lawyers!

cheers!
the patent queen (this is patented too, so don't get any ideas!)
post #11 of 26
I already patented the idea of shotgun patenting stupid ideas in hopes one day some big company uses them and I sue their asses off!
post #12 of 26
What is it with companies patenting stuff and then not using them, even apples at it.
post #13 of 26
I should patent the cash register and sue every retail point of sale on the planet... Proof that the Patent Office is asleep at the switch.

   Apple develops an improved programming language.  Google copied Java.  Everything you need to know, right there.

 

    AT&T believes their LTE coverage is adequate

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   Apple develops an improved programming language.  Google copied Java.  Everything you need to know, right there.

 

    AT&T believes their LTE coverage is adequate

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post #14 of 26
Restricted Spending Solutions (RSS) should get sued by Netscape and Ramanathan V. Guha for using the term "RSS".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramanathan_V._Guha
"In March 1999, he created the first version of RSS as part of Netscape's personalized home page project."
post #15 of 26
Just because they file suit doesn't mean they'll win.

"George, that's a nice idea, but it's rather labor intensive. And because it isn't novel, we can't patent it. I know, let's automate it!"
post #16 of 26
How does this make ANY sense? I didn't think you could patent an IDEA for software. I mean, Apple had many great ideas in the Macintosh. Not all of them were original, rarely is anything. But at least they did all their own coding.

But with a suit like this, they seem to think that the IDEA can be patented. There was no code to copy. So, Microsoft can copy the entire GUI of the Mac, down to the freakin' keystrokes, and that is OK. But no one can code an allowance feature because someone staked claim to it in theory.

Good one!
post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mitch1984 View Post

What is it with companies patenting stuff and then not using them, even apples at it.

Apple has patented designs that they could actually implement and which could be useful (their patents for novel ways to access an optical drive that could have been used in the Macbook Air for example). Many other companies have decided to become patent clearinghouses and thus use a business model which says we'll sue everyone and anyone to make money instead of actually making a real product. There's a big difference.

And yes, this suit is ridiculous.
post #18 of 26
I don't know the first thing about the American Patent system other than clearly it's crap but do these patents cover just the idea or the implementation of said idea. To claim a patent on a idea in 2005 despite Apple having implemented it in 2004 seems somewhat moronic on the part of RSS.

If the patent is for the implementation of the idea does that mean it's strictly related to WebObjects which Apple uses as the backend for iTunes? If so couldn't the idea be implemented using say PHP instead?

Incidentally it seems America is one of the few countries in the world that allows patenting of an idea which is retarded because I can assure you that this lot are not the first and certainly won't be the last to come up with this idea.

Here in New Zealand (and most other countries) a patent can only be granted if you have a working prototype. You can't simply roll on up and say "I'm going to patent an idea for buying points my kids can use without access to my credit card..."

In theory someone can patent the same idea but done differently. In this case RSS could not charge Apple unless RSS' patent was for a WebObjects implementation. Even then it would still have to provide code to prove that Apple's implementation is the same and let's face it with software there's more than one way to skin a cat.
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by reallynotnick View Post

I already patented the idea of shotgun patenting stupid ideas in hopes one day some big company uses them and I sue their asses off!

Hmmmmmmmmm......... I have a "patent pending" on "patenting".

Just a soon as that puppy is through, I'll grab me a few thousand lawyers and sue the "patents" off everyone in sight!


Seriously, what a waste of money these things are. A patent is to protect a true invention, not some minor, trivial take on something that has been done for sometimes thousands of years!!!
post #20 of 26
Now is Restricted Spending Solutions (RSS) going to sue the creators of Really Simple Syndication (RSS) because those names are just too similar? What a stupid lawsuit. Are they going to sue everyone that has received a Gift Card too?
post #21 of 26
the patent system is so fucked up. It seems very simple to resolve, and one which would save a ton of money in the courts even if it had large initial costs. This is my admittedly patent system-ignorant idea:

When you apply for a patent, it gets initially reviewed by a screener for basic validity, correct filing, etc. If given the go-ahead it gets review by a 3-person panel of experts that have experience in a similar/related field as that of the application. They would follow the basic rules we have now, EXCEPT that the filing would have to meet a *HIGH THRESHOLD* for originality and ingenuity, as the current system is supposed to now, but which is broken. People would not be granted patents for brain-dead common sense extensions of prior ideas.
The bar of acceptance would also be set much higher for "abstract" ideas and things such as software patents. One example being things like Amazon's "one click" shopping would NOT be patentable.

This would also be enforced by punishing and/or fining companies who submit thousands of pathetic patents that come nowhere near being accepted and/or bundles of patents that are very similar, where companies are throwing every conceivable idea against the wall to see what sticks. This is abuse of the system and was never intended to be the working model for patents.

Lastly, There would be entirely new provisions for defeating patent trolls. I'll leave that mechanism to the professionals....
post #22 of 26
Quote:
"computer-based method for allocating funds in pre-established accounts for use by customers, by creating for each customer a customer account file containing a record of funds deposited for the customer, and limiting how the funds in each customer account file may be spent on audio and video entertainment."

Common practice?

ANYONE who has ever joined a christmas club and had their details held on computer... like mm maybe a lot of computer shops?
I don't see how an anti M$ stance can be seen as a bad thing on an Apple forum I really can't!

nagromme - According to Amazon: "SpongBob Typing Tutor" is outselling Windows
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I don't see how an anti M$ stance can be seen as a bad thing on an Apple forum I really can't!

nagromme - According to Amazon: "SpongBob Typing Tutor" is outselling Windows
Reply
post #23 of 26
Quote:
"computer-based method for allocating funds in pre-established accounts for use by customers, by creating for each customer a customer account file containing a record of funds deposited for the customer, and limiting how the funds in each customer account file may be spent on audio and video entertainment."

It seems to describe a system where you post funds but limit how much of it can be used at a time or where. "RSS" says here's $120 for the year but you can only spend $10 a month. That's not an allowance, that's just limited withdrawal.

Apple's allowance works the other way around. It's a system where you post a limited amount of funds but the recipient can use as much as they want or save up for future purchases. iTunes says here's $10 a month for a year, but you can save it up for later, just like a real allowance. It's like a savings account for iTunes store.

IMO, the patent is super lame in the first place. It's like patenting the idea of using a CD drive tray as a cup holder.
post #24 of 26
Little Jimmy's Lemonade Stand sued Apple, because he says the whole concept of offering something for sale and insisting on payment was his idea.
post #25 of 26
You should all take a look at this... we are SCREWED! Microsoft has finally done it....

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/29130


"If this patent holds up in federal court, Apple will have no choice but to convert to analog," said Apple interim CEO Steve Jobs, "and I have serious doubts whether this company would be able to remain competitive selling pedal-operated computers running software off vinyl LPs."
post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by winterspan View Post

... When you apply for a patent, it gets initially reviewed by a screener for basic validity, correct filing, etc. If given the go-ahead it gets review by a 3-person panel of experts that have experience in a similar/related field as that of the application. They would follow the basic rules we have now, EXCEPT that the filing would have to meet a *HIGH THRESHOLD* for originality and ingenuity, as the current system is supposed to now, but which is broken. People would not be granted patents for brain-dead common sense extensions of prior ideas.
The bar of acceptance would also be set much higher for "abstract" ideas and things such as software patents. One example being things like Amazon's "one click" shopping would NOT be patentable. ....

That is similar to an idea for improving the patent system. In my version, this panel would decide on the originality and ingenuity of the invention and, rather than a high bar with a "yes" or "no" choice, the length of a patent would be proportionally awarded. Cheesy, marginally original inventions might get a year or two of patent protection, whereas a really great one gets the full 20 year term.

Damn, I should have patented that idea! Now that I've publicly disclosed it, I'm screwed!
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