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Lawsuit claims iPhone infringes call display patent

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
A new Massachusetts complaint accuses Apple of violating a patent for a basic call display system.

The five-page complaint by Romek Figa, who does business in the eastern US state as Abraham & Son, claims that "certain Apple telephones" use technology at the heart of a 1990 patent that describes a system which displays both the phone number of an inbound call. The technique matches up phone numbers with a contact list stored on the phone, allowing the device to associate a name with any incoming calls.

At least superficially, Apple's iPhone recalls the patent through its software database of contacts. Inbound calls to an iPhone from a number associated with a contact display the caller's name. However, the patent also references 1990s-era technologies, including a two-line LCD as well as a separate receiver.

Figa, who created and continues to own the patent, says that he has contacted Apple about licensing the patent. The California company, however, has reportedly declined the request "on the terms offered," though these are not mentioned in the lawsuit.

The complaint demands a jury trial and, if victorious, would seek an injunction against Apple barring it from selling the iPhone and infringing on the patent. It also seeks triple damages for knowing infringement.

Apple has not commented on the suit, which was filed late last week in a Massachusetts district court.
post #2 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

describes a system which displays both the phone number of an inbound call. The technique matches up phone numbers with a contact list stored on the phone, allowing the device to associate a name with any incoming calls.

Don't all phones do that?
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post #3 of 51
Another greedy person trying to squeeze some bucks out.

I though patents expire 20 years from application date (14 years for designs)! Please correct me if I am wrong.
post #4 of 51
I'm just happy they didn't file it in Texas. It's begun to seem as though <A Certain Unnamed Texas Town, Yeah YOU Know Which One> has become the obligatory location for all lunatic patent lawsuits over the past few years. As a Texan myself, I'm ready to bulldoze the damned place. Preferably without evacuating the lawyers first.
post #5 of 51
I hate patents.. only because I never think of things first.
post #6 of 51
So is this guy gonna sue every cordless phone manufacturer too since my last 10 home phones have had caller ID and display the name of the caller of an inbound call? Where do people come up with this crap? I wish I had a nickel for every company that sued Apple. I'd be rich by now.
post #7 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronbo View Post

I'm just happy they didn't file it in Texas. It's begun to seem as though <A Certain Unnamed Texas Town, Yeah YOU Know Which One> has become the obligatory location for all lunatic patent lawsuits over the past few years. As a Texan myself, I'm ready to bulldoze the damned place. Preferably without evacuating the lawyers first.

What's really needed is stronger jurisdiction rules. It seems as if all was necessary was a PO Box in the district for a while and you're in. Maybe that's what has been done because I haven't heard of suits filed from there in a while.
post #8 of 51
He better sue motorola too,,, My razor does that, so did my blackberry and my wife's phone as well
post #9 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronbo View Post

I'm just happy they didn't file it in Texas. It's begun to seem as though <A Certain Unnamed Texas Town, Yeah YOU Know Which One> has become the obligatory location for all lunatic patent lawsuits over the past few years. As a Texan myself, I'm ready to bulldoze the damned place. Preferably without evacuating the lawyers first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

What's really needed is stronger jurisdiction rules. It seems as if all was necessary was a PO Box in the district for a while and you're in. Maybe that's what has been done because I haven't heard of suits filed from there in a while.

Well, okay....

I still like my idea better, though
post #10 of 51
Hahahaha!!! So, this guy is suing Apple for having the incoming call phone number displayed on the phone?!?!?!

Where has he been for the last decade!!??
post #11 of 51
I just patented life everyone, so you all owe me 5 bucks.

Yeesh... why does this sort of buffoonery happen only in the USA? Has no one got even a stitch of commonsense there or something?
post #12 of 51
This is not a Caller ID feature which receives the caller's name and number from the phone company, this patent uses only the number from an incoming call and compares it with the phone's database to bring-up the name of the caller. It's not really a Caller-ID. Furthermore, and unlike Apple, other phone-companies who used his patent, probably returned his calls and paid the royalty fees.

As mentioned before, Apple's assumed high profit margin of 50% on the iPhone (before the price drop) is not the actual profit margin, iPhone lawsuits will continue to pop-up in the future. Some companies will wait until the 'damage' is too great, some will settle, others will be dismissed.

The screwed-up patent office needs a SMACK across the head.
post #13 of 51
...what a sad sad thing software patents have become in the US Patent Office system.

Patents were supposed to push innovation, not harm it, which is pretty much what they are doing now.

HJP
post #14 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

Another greedy person trying to squeeze some bucks out.

I though patents expire 20 years from application date (14 years for designs)! Please correct me if I am wrong.

Correct. 20 years from the filing date, which in this case was May 1988 so the patent expires in a few months. In addition, a patent can be dated to before the filing date in certain circumstances so it may already be ineffective, but any infringement when the patent was valid is actionable.
post #15 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsNly View Post

Don't all phones do that?

idiot
post #16 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules View Post

I just patented life everyone, so you all owe me 5 bucks.

Yeesh... why does this sort of buffoonery happen only in the USA? Has no one got even a stitch of commonsense there or something?

Dude, I patented the process of oxygen intake through a cavity, or cavities or opening, in the home sapien cranium. Otherwise known as breathing. I did this several years ago, so you are in violation of my patent, punk. You owe ME.
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post #17 of 51
Also, does this company actually make a cell phone which uses their patent? I thought so. So how can a company be entitled to compensatory damages on a patent which they don't even use?
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post #18 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by His Dudeness View Post

Dude, I patented the process of oxygen intake through a cavity, or cavities or opening, in the home sapien cranium. Otherwise known as breathing. I did this several years ago, so you are in violation of my patent, punk. You owe ME.

And its a perpetual one. Its known as taxes. You breath 10.5 million times a year. If you paid $10,500 in annual taxes. Then you are paying the govt $0.001 cents per breath you take for that year.

They've been doing it for years, and for many more years yet. Its a perpetual patent, doesn't ever expire. Your too late.
post #19 of 51
But...but...but... someone HAS to be violating my patent! That's it. I'm suing the US Patent Office for violating my patent rights! I'm entitled to patents! Maybe I'll patent the process of applying for a patent, that way people will still owe me.
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post #20 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by His Dudeness View Post

Dude, I patented the process of oxygen intake through a cavity, or cavities or opening, in the home sapien cranium. Otherwise known as breathing. I did this several years ago, so you are in violation of my patent, punk. You owe ME.

Dude, I just patented the concept of beating to death a weak joke that had already been done several times earlier in the thread -- not to mention in every thread ever about people suing Apple. You owe all of us.
post #21 of 51
Oh yeah? Take a chill pill, which I patented as well.
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post #22 of 51
This guy's name is really FIGA? Honestly? Does anyone else here know what that means in Italian?
post #23 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsNly View Post

Don't all phones do that?

They do now. I don't believe they did in 1990. This patent might actually be valid (I just don't remember when this technology was introduced).
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post #24 of 51
So... This guy patented "looking up something in a database and displaying it"???
post #25 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

Another greedy person trying to squeeze some bucks out.

I though patents expire 20 years from application date (14 years for designs)! Please correct me if I am wrong.

Close. See below

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlashmanBurgess View Post

So is this guy gonna sue every cordless phone manufacturer too since my last 10 home phones have had caller ID and display the name of the caller of an inbound call? Where do people come up with this crap? I wish I had a nickel for every company that sued Apple. I'd be rich by now.

The fact that this was common today is irrelevant. Was it being done in 1988 when he filed the patent? I don't think so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubert View Post

Hahahaha!!! So, this guy is suing Apple for having the incoming call phone number displayed on the phone?!?!?!

Where has he been for the last decade!!??

Who cares? He filed the patent in 1988. What does the past decade have to do with it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by flydoggie View Post

Correct. 20 years from the filing date, which in this case was May 1988 so the patent expires in a few months. In addition, a patent can be dated to before the filing date in certain circumstances so it may already be ineffective, but any infringement when the patent was valid is actionable.

That is true today, but the patent system changed during the 1990s. It USED to be 17 years from the date the patent was issued - which means it would have expired last year. He can still sue for infringement that occurred during the patent term, but he has to file before the statute of limitations has expired (I don't know what that is for patent cases).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cavallo View Post

This guy's name is really FIGA? Honestly? Does anyone else here know what that means in Italian?

There doesn't appear to be a direct translation on the translation sites I checked.
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post #26 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

There doesn't appear to be a direct translation on the translation sites I checked.

Perhaps because it's fairly blunt slang. In fact, it rhymes with blunt.
post #27 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by suhail View Post

This is not a Caller ID feature which receives the caller's name and number from the phone company, this patent uses only the number from an incoming call and compares it with the phone's database to bring-up the name of the caller. It's not really a Caller-ID. Furthermore, and unlike Apple, other phone-companies who used his patent, probably returned his calls and paid the royalty fees.

Ha ha! Good one. Every cell phone and every cordless phone does this. They take the number, look it up in their built-in phonebook, and use the name if there is a match. Do you think every phone vendor is paying this guy?
post #28 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

The fact that this was common today is irrelevant. Was it being done in 1988 when he filed the patent? I don't think so.

There doesn't appear to be a direct translation on the translation sites I checked.

I think they mean: why hasn't he sued everybody else that has used it?

and I found Figa as meaning:

to be cool, sexy
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post #29 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsNly View Post

and I found Figa as meaning:

to be cool, sexy

That's actually the common usage. Like we use 'cool' to describe something good, and not necessarily cold. Figa, in Italian is vulgar slang for female gentialia, but is used the way we would use 'cool.' I guess that's an interesting insight into the Italian psyche...
post #30 of 51
So, if I want to make something as simple as a called ID I have to pay someone setting on his butt for the last 20 years? and if it is not a hit product then I have to take the whole lose alone?

The courts should also force the patent holders to share losses manufacturers suffer when using their ideas, may be then we won't see them filling lawsuit. But this won't happen I guess.
post #31 of 51
You know what, i patent the motion of resting the body on the bed, a.k.a known as sleep. So if you dont want to get sued by me, you guys better not sleep!!!

ahhahaahhaha
post #32 of 51
i also like to patent the act of showering, you guys better not shower either!!!
post #33 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimd View Post

So... This guy patented "looking up something in a database and displaying it"???

Exactly.

It seems that ever day I'm reminded of how screwed up our patent system is. Unfortunately, it is now accomplishing the exact opposite of the intended goal. Patents are stifling innovation, not fostering it. For every non-obvious concept for which patents would seem reasonable, there are a 100 patents on obvious concepts.

Unless the patent system is fixed, I would actually be in favor of abolishing it altogether. While patents can be a net good for our economy and society, they aren't working out that way in the here and now.
post #34 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

The courts should also force the patent holders to share losses manufacturers suffer when using their ideas, may be then we won't see them filling lawsuit.

I don't know where you get this bizarre kind of idea.
post #35 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

A new Massachusetts complaint accuses Apple of violating a patent for a basic call display system.
The five-page complaint by Romek Figa, who does business in the eastern US state as Abraham & Son, claims that "certain Apple telephones" use technology at the heart of a 1990 patent that describes a system which displays both the phone number of an inbound call. The technique matches up phone numbers with a contact list stored on the phone, allowing the device to associate a name with any incoming calls.

ok - gottah love those who wannah feed on successfull companies - typical - apple gets an awesome product, and someone come's w/ a lawsuit.
post #36 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by ros3ntan View Post

You know what, i patent the motion of resting the body on the bed, a.k.a known as sleep. So if you dont want to get sued by me, you guys better not sleep!!!

ahhahaahhaha

Quote:
Originally Posted by ros3ntan View Post

i also like to patent the act of showering, you guys better not shower either!!!

I just patented the act of making dumb jokes. Pay up people.
post #37 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by emoeric87 View Post

I just patented the act of making dumb jokes. Pay up people.

Yeah? Well I just patented female genitalia. Now who's Figa?
post #38 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsNly View Post

I think they mean: why hasn't he sued everybody else that has used it?

How do you know he HASN'T licensed everyone else out there?
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post #39 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by suhail View Post

This is not a Caller ID feature which receives the caller's name and number from the phone company, this patent uses only the number from an incoming call and compares it with the phone's database to bring-up the name of the caller. It's not really a Caller-ID. Furthermore, and unlike Apple, other phone-companies who used his patent, probably returned his calls and paid the royalty fees.

As mentioned before, Apple's assumed high profit margin of 50% on the iPhone (before the price drop) is not the actual profit margin, iPhone lawsuits will continue to pop-up in the future. Some companies will wait until the 'damage' is too great, some will settle, others will be dismissed.

The screwed-up patent office needs a SMACK across the head.

Ok, so he won't be suing cordless phone companies over this. However, he'll be suing Microsoft (since they own the makers of the Sidekick and software for phones), Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, LG, Kyocera, HTC, and many many others since that's how caller ID on cell phones works.

Can we say snowball's chance in an industrial fire?
post #40 of 51
Yeah, I think it might be too late in the ballgame to start suing people. If he knew these guys were doing this, he should have spoke up sooner, imho.
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