Lawsuit accuses Apple's Mac OS X Disk Utility of patent infringement

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
A new lawsuit takes aim at Apple, alleging that its Mac OS X operating system and its Disk Utility feature infringes on a patent related to peer-to-peer networking workgroups.



Software Restore Solutions filed the suit against Apple this week in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Apple is accused of violating U.S. Patent No. 5,832,511, entitled "Workgroup Network Manager for Controlling the Operation of Workstations Within the Computer Network."



Specifically, Apple has been accused of violating claim 32 in the invention, which describes "a method of computer management automatically resetting a computer to a preferred configuration by executing system configuration instructions." In this way, a system would compare a previous computer status to the current condition of the computer.



The lawsuit notes that Apple's Disk Utility feature has been available in all versions of Mac OS X since its first release. It notes that the feature can "repair functionality for automatically resetting a software application to a preferred configuration."



Found in Mac OS X, Disk Utility offers users the ability to accomplish a number of tasks, including erasing, formatting and partitioning of hard drives. it also includes Run First Aid, which can repair damaged file systems.



The original patent, granted to Robert Earl Beck and Ronald L. Schoenberger in 1998, describes a library of programs maintained on a host workstation. That workstation keeps track of activity occurring on individual workstations within a networked workgroup.







The invention also includes a file maintenance and inventory system that compares the attributes of files, directories and software located on the workstation to identify discrepancies or locate missing items throughout the workgroup.



Software Restore Solutions has asked that the court bar Apple from selling products it believes are infringing. The company also seeks damages "not less than a reasonable royalty."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    Do these clowns even realize that Disk Utility is not "sold" but comes with the OS? What do they expect courts to do, ban the whole Operating System for some 13 year old Patent?



    What a joke.



    Software Patents are a joke. Further evidence of it. US Patent System needs a serious make-over, but nobody cares, so money is constantly wasted on Court Fees instead. Ridiculous.
  • Reply 2 of 37
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,274member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Implied View Post


    Do these clowns even realize that Disk Utility is not "sold" but comes with the OS? What do they expect courts to do, ban the whole Operating System for some 13 year old Patent?.



    That's what it reads like. It's not uncommon for "old" patents to be used in infringement claims. Apple has done so itself.



    And yes, I agree with you that the current aggressive posture taken by several in the mobile playground is completely ridiculous.
  • Reply 3 of 37
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,077member
    They patented going to a backup?
  • Reply 4 of 37
    I can't believe how the law system has degraded. This is getting out of hand. What's next, the finger is patented and well all must pay or get amputations?
  • Reply 5 of 37
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    That's what it reads like. It's not uncommon for "old" patents to be used in infringement claims. Apple has done so itself.



    And yes, I agree with you that the current aggressive posture taken by several in the mobile playground is completely ridiculous.



    Someone should check and see if these guys are somehow related to Samsung. Might be their payback for the Galaxy stuff happening in the EU.



    Besides that, who waits 10 years to cite Patent Infringement? Someone who wants cash. Duh. Should be rather obvious to the Courts, hopefully they won't waste too much time on this.
  • Reply 6 of 37
    Sorry but weren't these features in OS 6, 7, 8 and 9?

    These all were earlier than 1998.

    Is the patent office on drugs???
  • Reply 7 of 37
    habihabi Posts: 317member
    I dont get it! Is the patent for compareing a stored configuration to see if there has been any changes in the GUI for the need to do something???? Can someone give it in PLAIN english?
  • Reply 8 of 37
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post


    They patented going to a backup?



    It sounds like they patented the unix command rdist. According to the man page, it first appeared in 4.3BSD, so I'd say there's prior art.
  • Reply 9 of 37
    sorry, but at Dartmouth in 1990, networked mac plus computers performed this same functionality over a campus wide network. AND at Middlebury in the computer labs, the prefs would all be reset centrally using this method every day. What a dumb patent.
  • Reply 10 of 37
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fh-ace View Post


    Sorry but weren't these features in OS 6, 7, 8 and 9?

    These all were earlier than 1998.

    Is the patent office on drugs???



    They go way back before that. I was backing up my system and restoring from a backup in the 80's. That's what this patent seems to cover.
  • Reply 11 of 37
    jrg_ukjrg_uk Posts: 37member
    On reading the headline I first thought of 'cfengine', which existed long before 1998.



    But there is the 'mtree' tool, similar to the "Repair permissions" feature of Disk Utility, which existed in the BSD variants prior to Mac OS X anyway: it uses a configuration file or files that are read and used to reset file ownerships and permissions of system files.
  • Reply 12 of 37
    poochpooch Posts: 768member
    didn't microsoft patent 1s and 0s a long while ago? apple must be infringing on that, too.
  • Reply 13 of 37
    There should be something that says you have "X" amount of time to sue someone infringing on your patent. That aside I am sure this lawsuit can be, if you dig deep, traced back to Intellecutal Ventures I am sure !!
  • Reply 14 of 37
    b9botb9bot Posts: 238member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    A new lawsuit takes aim at Apple, alleging that its Mac OS X operating system and its Disk Utility feature infringes on a patent related to peer-to-peer networking workgroups.



    Software Restore Solutions filed the suit against Apple this week in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Apple is accused of violating U.S. Patent No. 5,832,511, entitled "Workgroup Network Manager for Controlling the Operation of Workstations Within the Computer Network."



    Specifically, Apple has been accused of violating claim 32 in the invention, which describes "a method of computer management automatically resetting a computer to a preferred configuration by executing system configuration instructions." In this way, a system would compare a previous computer status to the current condition of the computer.



    The lawsuit notes that Apple's Disk Utility feature has been available in all versions of Mac OS X since its first release. It notes that the feature can "repair functionality for automatically resetting a software application to a preferred configuration."



    Found in Mac OS X, Disk Utility offers users the ability to accomplish a number of tasks, including erasing, formatting and partitioning of hard drives. it also includes Run First Aid, which can repair damaged file systems.



    The original patent, granted to Robert Earl Beck and Ronald L. Schoenberger in 1998, describes a library of programs maintained on a host workstation. That workstation keeps track of activity occurring on individual workstations within a networked workgroup.







    The invention also includes a file maintenance and inventory system that compares the attributes of files, directories and software located on the workstation to identify discrepancies or locate missing items throughout the workgroup.



    Software Restore Solutions has asked that the court bar Apple from selling products it believes are infringing. The company also seeks damages "not less than a reasonable royalty."



    I find that 11 years to figure out that there was some Patent infringement is just a little to long and any Judge with common sense should throw this case out as being just to long to file it. They waited until Apple had a huge bank account that they could prey on. That's why they waited and don't really care about the patent. If they did and were actually using the technology they would not have waited this long. This is a clear case of a Patent Troll out to make a quick buck, and that's all it is.
  • Reply 15 of 37
    As other have pointed out, Disk Utility has had these features long before the patent inception and here we have another patent suit headed for the trash bin. What a waste of time.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Pooch View Post


    didn't microsoft patent 1s and 0s a long while ago? apple must be infringing on that, too.



    I was actually surprised it was satire.
  • Reply 16 of 37
    gromitgromit Posts: 37member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mplaisance View Post


    There should be something that says you have "X" amount of time to sue someone infringing on your patent. That aside I am sure this lawsuit can be, if you dig deep, traced back to Intellecutal Ventures I am sure !!





    X is of course a cpoyrighted trademark of Apple Corp Inc.
  • Reply 17 of 37
    jukesjukes Posts: 213member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mplaisance View Post


    There should be something that says you have "X" amount of time to sue someone infringing on your patent.



    there is: X=20
  • Reply 18 of 37
    Read the patent. If you know what disk utility does, you can see that it is not infringing upon this patent.



    Disk utility does not repair programs or their files, and it especially doesn't do this over a network or in logically organized workgroups from a single workstation. All it does is repair file system errors and permissions for files installed by the OS X 'Installer' program (which it does by using a portion of the installer, not by keeping some integrity check.



    At most, the only thing that can be construed as infringing is that might be returning the 'configuration' to an original known good state, which is a far stretch. The problem with that is that it doesn't do that... It only fixes access permissions, not the configuration, which would be plists.



    The most important thing is that even if you could convince a judge that it was fixing 'configuration', it still isn't using the method that is listed, and the method is what is patented. You can't patent 'fixing something' (otherwise a lot of technicians would be about of work), you can patent the method used.
  • Reply 19 of 37
    Sound like they need to go after MS with their Restore points.



    Disc Utilities came on the floppy in 1991 or before my time on the Mac.



    Who owns the patent for fire?
  • Reply 20 of 37
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by uuwalnut View Post


    Sound like they need to go after MS with their Restore points.



    Disc Utilities came on the floppy in 1991 or before my time on the Mac.



    Who owns the patent for fire?



    Someone got the Patent for the Toaster in 1999. The joke that approved of that patent should have gotten fired on the spot. Someone even has a Patent on the Lawn Mower.
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