Apple's iPhone targeted by vaguely generic mobile patent

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
A company that filed a broad and extremely vague patent application for a mobile device with web features has filed suit against Apple, claiming the iPhone's general concept violates its intellectual property.



The patent, filed by NetArirus in 1999 and granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 2006, describes "a small light weight modular microcomputer based computer and communications systems, designed for both portability and desktop uses."



It includes an abstract description that defines the "use of a relative large flat panel display device assembly," "an expandable hinge device" that the iPhone lacks, a "battery power source," a "keyboard assembly" the iPhone does not have, "and wireless communications devices."



The patent describes the "invention" as systems "capable of bi-directional realtime communications of voice, audio, text, graphics and video data."



It also notes, "an objective of this invention is to provide for full Internet access on a wireless mobile platform, where the user can access the World Wide Web and execute most of the available Internet browser functions and plug-ins," although the iPhone OS does not support web plugins of any kind, including Flash, Silverlight, and Java.



"The computer system would be capable of performing most of the Internet data access, download, upload and conferencing functions," the abstract continues, despite the fact that the iPhone OS does not actually support file uploads or any conferencing features (at least not yet; iPhone OS 4 is expected to add iChat features).



The patent serves as an example of how the USPTO's approval process needs to be reformed to actually serve the needs of inventors and producers, rather than just entertaining the notion of granting broad rights to nebulous ideas.



Apple has a history of invalidating patents rather than paying to avoid lawsuits, making it odd that NetArirus chose to pick the company as its first target, rather than going after other smartphone and mobile device makers that may be more likely to simply settle out of court.



One example of this is Burst.com, which obtained a $60 million settlement from Microsoft in 2005 before targeting Apple with identical claims related to multimedia playback. While many observers anticipated Burst.com would get even more from Apple, the company fought the validity of Burst's patents and was able to nullify 14 of the 36 claims in 2007. Apple settled with Burst for just $10 million, of which Burst received about $4.6 million after its legal fees and expenses.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    christopher126christopher126 Posts: 4,267member
    defending these frivolous lawsuits does nothing except keep lawyers busy on both sides!



    In fact, it makes us all pay more for our Apple products.



    Freak'n attorneys have no shame!
  • Reply 2 of 33
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    The computer system would be capable of performing most of the Internet data access, download, upload and conferencing functions," the abstract continues, despite the fact that the iPhone OS does not actually support file uploads or any conferencing features (at least not yet; iPhone OS 4 is expected to add iChat features).



    You can upload a picture to mobileMe and conferencing doesn't have to mean video conference it does conference calls. I wish the iPhone did have a filesystem to keep other types of files which could be uploaded. Video chat is not something I would use except maybe to demonstrate something like a service procedure.
  • Reply 3 of 33
    foo2foo2 Posts: 1,077member
    This is the funniest story I've read all day!
  • Reply 4 of 33
    applecationapplecation Posts: 146member
    The patent sounds like it was targeted at laptops that doubled as tablets.
  • Reply 5 of 33
    djsherlydjsherly Posts: 1,016member
    Read the claims. They are a good fit for iPhone, although vague. Doesn't make any mention of the keyboard in the description.



    Actually, they could apply to any smart phone on the market, however you go after the company with the money. It's crass but my lecturer has a good phrase to keep in mind is "where's the money?"
  • Reply 6 of 33
    ktappektappe Posts: 759member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post


    Freak'n attorneys have no shame!



    They blush all the way to the bank.
  • Reply 7 of 33
    davegeedavegee Posts: 2,765member
    I'd usually make some mocking post about the 'WONDERFUL' state todays patent system has been transformed into but go figure, even I'm getting bored / tired of doing them. I could continue to rail against the 'patent system status quo' but nobody else seems to care so whatever.



    Now just to help people argue on the correct points...



    It __appears__ this patent somehow touches on the Apple iPhones going back and forth between 3G and WiFI as available while sending data.



    However the patent is so generically written it could also be used go after wifi technologies that have the ability to selectively choose either 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g and/or 802.11n but I think the basic premiss of 'on the fly' selection of various networks as they come into and out of range is prior art and could possibly used to dismiss the case but please don't take my word on it... I'm no expert.



    I don't think Apple has anything to worry about but what do I know, I'm no patent attorney or wireless data technology expert.
  • Reply 8 of 33
    sheffsheff Posts: 1,407member
    If the article portrays the whole issue I find it pretty interesting. Even though it is vague as hell it does show some imagination. Depending on when it was filed (if it was like 1990s) I would say there is some credit due for the vision. Other then that I don't think that this device is quite the iPhone, or that the phone will hold the patent. Maybe if they sued Moto for droid or HTC they would stand a better chance with the keaboard and cameras.
  • Reply 9 of 33
    aaarrrggghaaarrrgggh Posts: 1,572member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sheff View Post


    If the article portrays the whole issue I find it pretty interesting. Even though it is vague as hell it does show some imagination. Depending on when it was filed (if it was like 1990s) I would say there is some credit due for the vision. Other then that I don't think that this device is quite the iPhone, or that the phone will hold the patent. Maybe if they sued Moto for droid or HTC they would stand a better chance with the keaboard and cameras.



    No. The first Palm with wireless was in 1998 or so, as was WAP if I recall correctly; saying the full Internet would be better was quite obvious. Wireless solutions of the day such as Ricochet and the first two-way pagers left so much to be desired that the ability to dynamically switch between systems was also quite obvious.



    The uspto needs some serious reform!
  • Reply 10 of 33
    justflybobjustflybob Posts: 1,337member
    Riiiiiiiiight.



    You go, you shameless hacks!
  • Reply 11 of 33
    yuniverseyuniverse Posts: 104member
    This sort of things riles me up!





    Patent office should get punished for allowing such generic patents.



    It was filed in 1999
  • Reply 12 of 33
    themv21themv21 Posts: 7member
    I think every company is just suing apple because every want/has an iphone and not the others products.
  • Reply 13 of 33
    tawilsontawilson Posts: 484member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Yuniverse View Post


    This sort of things riles me up!





    Patent office should get punished for allowing such generic patents.



    It was filed in 1999



    The original linking patent (that serves no purpose but to allow them to backdate their "invention" by 7 years) was filed in 1999. This particular patent was filed in 2006!!!



    WTF?
  • Reply 14 of 33
    xamianxamian Posts: 37member
    Sounds like a NetBook I could've gotten from Verizon when I went to upgrade my phone...the hinge & keyboard assembly and all...



    Of course, it could be the enV Touch that I got too. It's got a hinge assembly, keyboard, internet communication, uploads & downloads...
  • Reply 15 of 33
    g3prog3pro Posts: 669member
    I guess this company is evil for filing patent lawsuits, but Apple is good for filing lawsuits.



    I guess Microsoft was evil for anticompetitive behavior, but Apple is good for anticompetitive behavior.
  • Reply 16 of 33
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by g3pro View Post


    I guess this company is evil for filing patent lawsuits, but Apple is good for filing lawsuits.



    I guess Microsoft was evil for anticompetitive behavior, but Apple is good for anticompetitive behavior.



    Apple has finally realised it NEEDS to play the same game to stop the dickheads from having more goes at them.



    As to anti-competitive behaviour please enlighten us to such behaviour because I'd really like to know. Are you thinking of the AppStore which is actually Apple's product for Apple's product therefore if people want to play on Apple's product and make some money they should play by their rules.



    Or are you talking about how Mac OS X won't run on anything other than Macs both of which are Apple's products and therefore legitimately it's up to Apple to define the rules of the use of THEIR product.



    Stop being a dick.
  • Reply 17 of 33
    ilovestuffilovestuff Posts: 143member
    I just filed a pantent for a "Thing that does stuff"

    Please contact my licensing department for a menu of fee options.
  • Reply 18 of 33
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,247member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iLoveStuff View Post


    I just filed a pantent for a "Thing that does stuff"

    Please contact my licensing department for a menu of fee options.



    I guess that nullifies my patent on a vehicle with an internal power source that protects passengers while it transports them to destinations outside Earth's atmosphere. Damn, I could have made billions someday in the future!
  • Reply 19 of 33
    g3prog3pro Posts: 669member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lowededwookie View Post


    Apple has finally realised it NEEDS to play the same game to stop the dickheads from having more goes at them.



    As to anti-competitive behaviour please enlighten us to such behaviour because I'd really like to know. Are you thinking of the AppStore which is actually Apple's product for Apple's product therefore if people want to play on Apple's product and make some money they should play by their rules.



    Or are you talking about how Mac OS X won't run on anything other than Macs both of which are Apple's products and therefore legitimately it's up to Apple to define the rules of the use of THEIR product.



    Stop being a dick.



    I think if Microsoft did what Apple is doing right now with the Apps store, you would be up in arms.



    Imagine what would happen if Microsoft decided not to "approve" iTunes for Windows....



    There is so much hypocrisy here it is nauseating.
  • Reply 20 of 33
    oldmacguyoldmacguy Posts: 151member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by g3pro View Post




    Imagine what would happen if Microsoft decided not to "approve" iTunes for Windows....




    O.K. I'm imagining.... there would be a whole lot more switchers to the Mac, right??? You betcha!
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