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Apple sued for promoting iPhone as eBook reader

post #1 of 85
Thread Starter 
An overseas communications firm is suing Apple for promoting its iPhone handset as a touchscreen digital book reader, a concept it claims to have patented over seven years ago.

In a 7-page complaint filed with a Virginia district court Monday, Berne, Switzerland-based MONEC Holding Ltd accuses the iPhone maker of patent infringement, unfair trade practices, monopolization, and tortious interference for allegedly treading on its January 2002 patent No. 6,335,678 titled "Electronic device, preferably an electronic book."

A self-described "leading innovator for mobile, globally usable communication solutions," MONEC claims to be in the business of "developing and marketing equipment for the transmission of data to mobile electronics communication systems, managing and utilizing patents in this area and awarding licenses."

In its lawsuit, the firm takes issue with Apple's move to distribute digital book reading applications through the App Store, which it subsequently sees as an endorsement by the Cupertino-based company that its touchscreen handset can serve as a capable eBook reader.

MONEC believes those advances directly violate its patent, which describes a "light-weight" electronic device with a "touch-screen" LCD-display having the "dimensions such that [...] approximately one page of a book can be illustrated at normal size, this display being integrated in a flat, frame-like housing."

The Swiss firm maintains that Apple is "well aware" of its patent and claims the ongoing infringement has caused injury to its property and business in an amount to be determined as damages at trial. It's also seeking attorney's fees and an injunction to preventing Apple from further infringement.

Although MONEC does not identify the specific eBook reading applications that prompted its lawsuit, the complaint was filed just weeks after Apple began distributing Amazon.com's Kindle eBook reader software through the App Store. Another eBook application called Classics has been available since last year.
post #2 of 85
I'm all for protecting the specific implementation of a software idea through copyright, but granting "intellectual property" for an idea is madness. The fact that Amazon has a patent on one-click shopping is absolutely insane.
post #3 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by JavaCowboy View Post

I'm all for protecting the specific implementation of a software idea through copyright, but granting "intellectual property" for an idea is madness. The fact that Amazon has a patent on one-click shopping is absolutely insane.

I believe one-click was reexamined and rejected by the USPO in 2007. I agree with you about patenting an idea, especially one as silly and obvious as this.
post #4 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Morky View Post

I believe one-click was reexamined and rejected by the USPO in 2007. I agree with you about patenting an idea, especially one as silly and obvious as this.

Actually, Amazon is tying up the process with endless appeals. They won't ever actually lose their patent.
post #5 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Morky View Post

I believe one-click was reexamined and rejected by the USPO in 2007. I agree with you about patenting an idea, especially one as silly and obvious as this.

Then why does Apple continue to pay licensing fees to Amazon for the use of one-click purchasing through iTunes? Do "About iTunes" and read the list of licenses, with Amazon included.
post #6 of 85
In US law at least, this description:
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

... describes a "light-weight" electronic device with a "touch-screen" LCD-display having the "dimensions such that [...] approximately one page of a book can be illustrated at normal size, this display being integrated in a flat, frame-like housing."...

Would seem to fail the "non obvious" clause as well as being far too generalised of a description.

It also doesn't describe the iPhone as you cannot describe a 2x3 screen as displaying "one page of a book ... at normal size."
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In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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post #7 of 85
I swear, I think sometimes these people just do it for the publicity.

Also, why haven't they sued Amazon for the Kindle? Twice?
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post #8 of 85
Just curious... In general, how does it work when any illegal content appears on the app store? Maybe an eBook reader that violates a patent, maybe some copyrighted photography or art or music that was stolen, maybe a pirated app re-sold by someone else... whatever the case may be. If Apple were sued over the matter and lost (ridiculous though it might be) would Apple then seek to collect in turn from the individual app maker?

I assume this must have come up by now (maybe in relation to stolen music for a game or something) but I've never heard of any instances.
post #9 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

Then why does Apple continue to pay licensing fees to Amazon for the use of one-click purchasing through iTunes? Do "About iTunes" and read the list of licenses, with Amazon included.

...not defending anoyone, but that license could have nothing to do with one click. it might have to do with audible content in iTMS. amazon owns audible, no?
post #10 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc OSX View Post

I swear, I think sometimes these people just do it for the publicity.

Also, why haven't they sued Amazon for the Kindle? Twice?

Exactly. Kindle is sold specifically as a book-reading device, the iPhone is not.

Sounds like a load of arse to me.
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post #11 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc OSX View Post

Also, why haven't they sued Amazon for the Kindle? Twice?

No LCD screen, they use e-paper.
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post #12 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc OSX View Post

I swear, I think sometimes these people just do it for the publicity.

Also, why haven't they sued Amazon for the Kindle? Twice?

They can't sue the Kindle as it is not a "touch screen" device, whereas the iPhone/iPod Touch is.

Seriously, these Patent trolls should all be rounded up a shot. Come on, the mentality of thinking up any kind of software idea and patenting it is ridiculous. Only physical hardware and (perhaps) processes should be patentable, software, art (images and audio) should only have copyright.
post #13 of 85
Rats, e1618978 beat me to it...
post #14 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc OSX View Post

I swear, I think sometimes these people just do it for the publicity.

Also, why haven't they sued Amazon for the Kindle? Twice?

It looks like the patent is for a touch screen ebook device, which the Kindle does not have!
post #15 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

Just curious... In general, how does it work when any illegal content appears on the app store? Maybe an eBook reader that violates a patent, maybe some copyrighted photography or art or music that was stolen, maybe a pirated app re-sold by someone else... whatever the case may be. If Apple were sued over the matter and lost (ridiculous though it might be) would Apple then seek to collect in turn from the individual app maker?

I assume this must have come up by now (maybe in relation to stolen music for a game or something) but I've never heard of any instances.

...well, the RIAA hasn't filed suit against MS or Apple because there are bit torrent clients available for those platforms. in other words, in this situation, you can't go after the hardware manufacturer because someone wrote software that violates a patent or copyright. at the most, Apple would get a C and D to remove the offending app (i think there was an unoffical version of Tetris out there for a while, Nintendo went after them for Duck Hunt, and Namco for an unofficial PacMan)
post #16 of 85
I'm going to patent something called "click and confirm", its much better and saves the consumer from making unnecesary buys.
post #17 of 85
Prior art kills this claim, which was filed in 1999.

Apple made a series of movies about "Knowledge Navigator" in the 1980s that exactly fit this description. In most of the movies, the navigator is a book-sized device that folds open (like two hinged Kindles) with voice and touch navigation, a camera, scanner and telephone connectivity. In one of the movies the user is shown reading a newspaper (or book, can't recall exactly) using the device and interacting with it via touch and voice. This is a direct demonstration of the concepts in this patent, over a decade earlier.

Note also that the patent specifically states "approximately one page of a book can be illustrated at normal size". The iPhone/iTouch clearly does not fit this bill.

Maury
post #18 of 85
Patents are just insanely stupid these days. It started with patents for software. Patent law should be rewritten so that only innovations embodied in a physical device (e.g. a new type of touch screen) or substance (e.g. chemical compounds, etc.) can be patented. Innovations that result from cobbling together existing component technologies (such as an e-book reader) should not be patentable.
post #19 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by kerryn View Post

They can't sue the Kindle as it is not a "touch screen" device, whereas the iPhone/iPod Touch is.

Seriously, these Patent trolls should all be rounded up a shot. Come on, the mentality of thinking up any kind of software idea and patenting it is ridiculous. Only physical hardware and (perhaps) processes should be patentable, software, art (images and audio) should only have copyright.

So are they going to sue Sony as well since the new Sony reader has touch-screen capabilities? Jeez.
post #20 of 85
I am sure Sony tried to sell eBook readers over 7 years ago and my old HandSpring Visor had an eBook application.
post #21 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post

Patents are just insanely stupid these days. It started with patents for software. Patent law should be rewritten so that only innovations embodied in a physical device (e.g. a new type of touch screen) or substance (e.g. chemical compounds, etc.) can be patented. Innovations that result from cobbling together existing component technologies (such as an e-book reader) should not be patentable.

I agree - you should be able to patent a specific device or even a particular implementation - but a general concept?
post #22 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by milkmage View Post

...well, the RIAA hasn't filed suit against MS or Apple because there are bit torrent clients available for those platforms. in other words, in this situation, you can't go after the hardware manufacturer because someone wrote software that violates a patent or copyright. at the most, Apple would get a C and D to remove the offending app (i think there was an unoffical version of Tetris out there for a while, Nintendo went after them for Duck Hunt, and Namco for an unofficial PacMan)

That's because Apple and Microsoft don't distribute those applications. However, in the case of the iPhone App Store, Apple is distributing the application and can in fact be held liable, which is why Apple has to keep the approval process as strict as it is (well, a strict as some think it is).
Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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post #23 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

In a 7-page complaint filed with a Virginia district court Monday, Berne, Switzerland-based MONEC Holding Ltd accuses the iPhone maker of patent infringement, unfair trade practices, monopolization, and tortious interference for allegedly treading on its January 2002 patent No. 6,335,678 titled "Electronic device, preferably an electronic book."

These guys are obviously amateurs at this.
post #24 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by spacevator View Post

It looks like the patent is for a touch screen ebook device, which the Kindle does not have!

Almost all Tablet PCs have touch screens in away and they are all able to be used as ebook readers. They have LCD touch screen but they did not sue them!

As said before, these people just look for publicity.
post #25 of 85
It has gone to far at this point. im all for protecting someones individual design, however, something like this is just too far.

but none of us should pretend that apple isnt hugely guilty of the same kind of practices, they often say "we have a patent on that" to scare competitors out of using one of their own ideas.

if something as basic as an ebook reader that is small with a touch screen, then it should not be granted a patent, the problem is the people issuing the patents often dont fully understand what they are dealing with.
post #26 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post

No LCD screen, they use e-paper.

Of the actual claims in the patent, only the last one of them (number 13) specifically mentions an LCD as the type of display technology used.

Even if an allegedly infringing device was not using an LCD, it could still be held to be in violation of claims 1 through 12.

On the other hand, the claims in this patent are all vague and flirting with obviousness IMO, even by 1999 standards.
post #27 of 85
]I'm going to patent something called "click and sue", patent trolls who pay me royalties will be able to just go to my web site and sue anyone for anything with just one click.... now that's a money maker right thar!
post #28 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post

I agree - you should be able to patent a specific device or even a particular implementation - but a general concept?

Once upon a time there was a patent granted that effectively covered every instance of the general concept of transmitting a voice electronically over a wire.

The distinguishing feature, I think, was that back when that patent was granted, it was for a truly innovative and non-obvious concept.

The general concept of using a computer to store and display text (a book) is obvious.
The general concept of using a touchscreen to control a computer is patented separately, and thus a well-known concept and not innovative.
The general concept of using GSM to allow a computer to communicate over the telephone system wirelessly is patented separately, and thus not an innovative.
The general concept of miniaturizing a computer to a hand-held form factor has been an ongoing process for decades is also not innovative.
In my opinion, putting all of these concepts together is also obvious and not innovative.
post #29 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by milkmage View Post

...not defending anoyone, but that license could have nothing to do with one click. it might have to do with audible content in iTMS. amazon owns audible, no?

It specifically does say 1-Click(R) is a registered service mark of Amazon.com, Inc. in the About iTunes window.
post #30 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by lfmorrison View Post

Once upon a time there was a patent granted that effectively covered every instance of the general concept of transmitting a voice electronically over a wire.

The distinguishing feature, I think, was that back when that patent was granted, it was for a truly innovative and non-obvious concept.

You know that Alexander Graham Bell bribed the patent examined to get his patent application processed before Elisha Gray patent, which was submitted the earlier the same day! There was even testimonies that Graham Bell looked at Gray's patent application before he submitted his.

I agree with you that patents was for innovations. I think they patents should be tied to actual production and not just ink on paper. For example, if you patent something then you have to produce it within specific time frame or your patent will be revoked.
post #31 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maury Markowitz View Post

Prior art kills this claim, which was filed in 1999.

Apple made a series of movies about "Knowledge Navigator" in the 1980s that exactly fit this description. In most of the movies, the navigator is a book-sized device that folds open (like two hinged Kindles) with voice and touch navigation, a camera, scanner and telephone connectivity. In one of the movies the user is shown reading a newspaper (or book, can't recall exactly) using the device and interacting with it via touch and voice. This is a direct demonstration of the concepts in this patent, over a decade earlier.

Note also that the patent specifically states "approximately one page of a book can be illustrated at normal size". The iPhone/iTouch clearly does not fit this bill.

Maury

How about the Newton? it do seem to remember reading books on it and Motorola's version of it - the Marco (if my memory doesn't fail me) was a cell phone as well...

The fact that the patent is filed a decade later is explained by the location of the company - Berne, Switzerland is said to be a little on the slow side...
post #32 of 85
Where is their ereader? You shouldn't be able to just patent a vague idea and wait for someone to do it so you can sue them. You should either have a working model or be working on it. In the case of software, you should have some code to show.

Someone said Apple does this too. I know they sit on patents sometimes for several years, but they do actually produce working models of things. These people obviously never plan on producing anything, so how has it harmed them? They are simply leaches going for the deep pockets. The case should be thrown out.
post #33 of 85
A patent on reading text on a computer screen. Very nice.
But it's the innovation of the patent that sets me aquiver. Specifying a screen size. That's like... wow. Just wow. What school of engineering and design can I go to, to learn that? And touching the screen. Well worthy of a patent.

Seriously, though, I agree with the other posters that this will fail the non-obviousness clause. It's a cobbling together of ideas, and not too clever at that.
post #34 of 85
...sue my browser...NOW!
post #35 of 85
Quote:
jlebrech

Posts: 5
I'm going to patent something called "click and confirm", its much better and saves the consumer from making unnecesary buys.


i'm suing for mentioning this concept.

you'll hear from my lawyers!

post #36 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

You know that Alexander Graham Bell bribed the patent examined to get his patent application processed before Elisha Gray patent, which was submitted the earlier the same day! There was even testimonies that Graham Bill looked at Gray's patent application before he submitted his..

There's this great source called the Wikipedia that's completely free, maybe you should try using it before spreading obvious misinformation.

Gray's "caveat", essentially a notice to file, was entered on the morning of 14 February 1876. Bell had been working on his filing for months, but he refused to file in the US until it was filed in England. At the time, England would refuse any patent that had been filed elsewhere, and there was no international grace period like there is today (if I file in Canada, I am protected in the US for one year).

That weekend Bell's lawyer heard that Gray was planning to file, and quickly rushed together a full patent application. He had it hand delivered on Monday, and made sure that his was hand-entered into the register so it would appear first. There doesn't seem to be anything "wrong" here, his lawyer was smarter than Gray's.

Did Bell's submission include information from Gray's filing? That is highly likely, because he had seen it in person, and added something similar to his own filing. Did Bell steal Gray's invention? No, clearly he was working on the idea throughout the year. Did Bell steal Gray's liquid microphone idea? Yes, but only to abandon it almost immediately. Did Gray do anything with his patent? No.

By most definitions it is Gray that is the patent troll. He had a purely theoretical device that he never built. Bell, on the other hand, not only built a Gray-like device, but numerous other ones that were actually practical. All of this is well recorded in the many lawsuits between the two.

The accusations of bribery are highly unlikely. They come from a single affidavit by Wilber, the patent examiner, who also has several affidavits that say he wasn't bribed. So you have to choose to believe this one claim, ignore the other three, and ignore all the other affidavits that also state there was no bribery. This matter has been looked into in depth, and has little to support it except for one historian.

Maury
post #37 of 85
As others have said, this falls over at claim 1
- the iPhone doesn't have a book-sized screen

(which the 'inventors' think is important to the 'invention', or they wouldn't mention it in claim 1)
post #38 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by spacevator View Post

It looks like the patent is for a touch screen ebook device, which the Kindle does not have!

But the patent also says the screen should be about the same size as a real book and dispaly the same amount of text. If not having the right type of screen means they can't sue Amazon, then not having the right size of screen should also exclude Apple from getting sued!

The patent itself is oddly worded. They are vague in saying the device is "preferrably" a book reader, but then get very specific about size, buttons, etc. Strange. They also specifically point out prior art in a device that uses a floppy drive and lots of buttons. So their "innovation" is to use solid state memory and a touch screen. But since those technologies have been around for quite sometime, wouldn't that just be the obvious evolution of mobile devices, as opposed to a unique (ie, patentable) invention? Touchscreens have been around far longer than their patent, the only new thing is that they are now cheap and power efficient enough to include in mobile devices. That isn't invention, that's just using someone else's technology to make your device.
post #39 of 85
7 years ago...and I've never heard of this product before. I guess I can understand their motivation for suing Apple. How else is that product patent going to generate any money?

/
post #40 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maury Markowitz View Post

There's this great source called the Wikipedia that's completely free, maybe you should try using it before spreading obvious misinformation.

Gray's "caveat", essentially a notice to file, was entered on the morning of 14 February 1876. Bell had been working on his filing for months, but he refused to file in the US until it was filed in England. At the time, England would refuse any patent that had been filed elsewhere, and there was no international grace period like there is today (if I file in Canada, I am protected in the US for one year).

That weekend Bell's lawyer heard that Gray was planning to file, and quickly rushed together a full patent application. He had it hand delivered on Monday, and made sure that his was hand-entered into the register so it would appear first. There doesn't seem to be anything "wrong" here, his lawyer was smarter than Gray's.

Did Bell's submission include information from Gray's filing? That is highly likely, because he had seen it in person, and added something similar to his own filing. Did Bell steal Gray's invention? No, clearly he was working on the idea throughout the year. Did Bell steal Gray's liquid microphone idea? Yes, but only to abandon it almost immediately. Did Gray do anything with his patent? No.

By most definitions it is Gray that is the patent troll. He had a purely theoretical device that he never built. Bell, on the other hand, not only built a Gray-like device, but numerous other ones that were actually practical. All of this is well recorded in the many lawsuits between the two.

The accusations of bribery are highly unlikely. They come from a single affidavit by Wilber, the patent examiner, who also has several affidavits that say he wasn't bribed. So you have to choose to believe this one claim, ignore the other three, and ignore all the other affidavits that also state there was no bribery. This matter has been looked into in depth, and has little to support it except for one historian.

Maury

Maybe you should read the news from their source. Don't rely too much on Wikipedia. I did not say Bell stole anything, read my post again and read news from the source next time. Here is the update to the original Washington Post article that reported this back in the 1886.
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